Former Ravens wide receiver Michael Jackson tragically passed away in a motorcycle accident Friday morning in his hometown of Tangipahoa, La. He was just 48 years old.
Jackson played eight seasons in the NFL, and his final three were spent with the Ravens. He moved with the franchise from Cleveland in 1996.
“Today, our hearts are saddened by the awful news involving Michael,” Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
“He was a vibrant person who became one of the first Ravens heroes and a popular player among Baltimore fans. Well known for his big smile and welcoming nature, it was easy to feel a special connection with Michael.”
Jackson still holds the Ravens’ record for most receiving yards in a single season. He posted 1,201 yards on 76 catches in 1996 – the franchise’s first year in Baltimore.
Jackson’s 14 touchdowns were tied for the league lead that season. He finished sixth in yardage. Jackson had an equal or better season than some NFL greats such as Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Isaac Bruce, Herman Moore and Irving Fryar.
Jackson, fellow wide receiver Derrick Alexander and quarterback Vinny Testaverde combined to give the Ravens one of the league’s best passing duos in 1996. Jackson and Alexander both topped 1,000 yards, an accomplishment no Ravens wide receivers have accomplished since.
Injuries ended Jackson’s playing days with 353 catches, 5,393 yards and 46 touchdowns. It was a stellar career for a sixth-round pick (1991) out of Southern Mississippi.
“One of my most rewarding achievements after retiring as a player was watching Michael Jackson develop as a wide receiver,” said Newsome, who also moved with Jackson from Cleveland to Baltimore.
Newsome recalled that while with the Browns’ scouting department, his first opportunity to work out receivers was with a group including Jackson. There were about six players and Jackson stood out because of his speed and range.
Jackson went on to have a successful post-NFL career. He turned to politics and became the mayor of Tangipahoa in 2009. He served in that role until 2013.
But just like his NFL career, Jackson’s life was cut far too short.
“Michael was also a community leader who inspired many people, not only during his time in the NFL, but afterwards when he became the mayor of his hometown in Louisiana,” Newsome said.“As we remember Michael fondly, we extend our condolences to everyone who knew him and those families affected by this tragedy.”