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Name: Michael JacksonTeam: Baltimore Ravens
Position: Wide receiver
Years Played in Baltimore: 1996 – 1998
After your playing career in Baltimore was complete, what did you do?
Well, I moved back down south to Louisiana upon which time I decided to seek a candidate for the position of mayor and/or state representative in my area that has gone long deprived.
Most people look at me as an individual and expect me to reach into my pocket and dig out a solution, and I say to them all the time that that is not possible for an individual to do. It would take someone with a genuine interest in bringing change about in an area and I couldn't find that individual.
So the first thing I did when I moved back down here was enter the state representatives race, which I was unsuccessful for at obtaining that position at that time, and thereafter, I decided to just downsize and go in the district and start my political career off in my own little hometown of Tangipahoa [as mayor]. I pitched a successful bid in 2008 for that position and took office in January 2009, so I'm at the later stages of the first year of my term as mayor of the village of Tangipahoa.
Can you describe your city of Tangipahoa, Mississippi?
It's an Indian name, and it's the name of the county which we are parishes of here in Louisiana. That's the name of the town, that's the name of the school district, rivers, everything – it's Tangipahoa.
It is very small – it's a family town, probably slightly under 1,500 people within the municipal limits. The town is only about a little over a mile in width or so. It's where I grew up, and everyone is kin to everyone. Everyone knew everyone when I was living here prior to leaving to go to off to college.
Then since I've come back it's not that way. It's more like a metropolitan neighborhood that is overcrowded. We're still dealing with the same amount of land mass, but we've increased as far as the people are concerned.
Where do you see yourself 20 years from now – still in the political arena?
I don't think so, but I don't know! I think I'll stay involved, but I don't know what I want to do as far as the political aspect of things go.
Right now, I want to set a standard. I want to have that standard high enough so that whomever decides to run for this position they will feel obligated to do at least what I have done and far better - so that's what I want to do. I want to set a concrete floor, so we can erect a house here in my hometown.
Can you talk about the move in 1996 from Cleveland to Baltimore?
Personally, I'd have to go back to the days before I knew anything about Baltimore in order to accurately depict how it was. If I'm able to do that, I would say that it wasn't a move I was interested in because of the fact that I personally had just began to establish a base there.
Cleveland was the team and town that gave me the opportunity to come there and establish myself as a receiver in the NFL. Coming from Southern Mississippi I had been a quarterback out of high school, went to Southern Miss as a quarterback, Brett Favre just so happens to become the quarterback at Southern Miss, and I decided to move to receiver. So the duration I had in Cleveland kind of was a learning experience into becoming a receiver, and once I was getting to that point and felt as if I was arriving, that's when the move was happening.
Upon that happening I was like, "Man, I'm just getting ready to prove myself to all of these naysayers here in Cleveland." I was in the process of proving myself to one city when the announcement came we were moving to another city. With that happening, I kind of looked at myself as a rookie all over again for the new city.
Mentally, I put together a business plan. I said, "Okay, Baltimore hasn't had a team in thirteen years, and now its fertile ground for whomever it is that comes in there to establish themselves as that person. I have to find a way to be that person." I immediately got on the bandwagon of what Mr. Modell was doing and moved to Baltimore in the off-season in order to jump into the city and get to know people on an individual level.
I knew that my skills at the position had improved over the four, five year period I had spent in Cleveland, and that I was getting a fresh start. Everybody here [in Baltimore] was a rookie to this town because this town had been starving for football for so long that they hadn't had a team they could follow. You're given a fresh chance and that was my opportunity and to this day was the blessing in disguise for me.
Which team do you root for a few weeks ago when the Ravens played the Browns on Monday Night Football?
I didn't even watch the game! Can you believe that? I didn't even watch the game. More so, I would say I'm pretty neutral pretty much, and that's the way I've been since I moved back here. I just stopped watching football. If I watch football, it will be at home alone or something to that effect.
What teammate you were closest with during your playing days in Baltimore? Do you still keep in contact with him today?
That would have been Derrick Alexander [Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver: 1996 – 1997]. He and I established a really, really close relationship, and now I can't even say where the guy is. We haven't kept in contact with one another. I think he went on and got married, but I don't know what happened.
Can you talk about your experience playing college football with Brett Favre at Southern Mississippi?
That was an exciting time! I've known Brett since we went to Southern Miss in July of 1987 and had a pretty good relationship. We did some things college students do together – all the college students out there you'll understand what I'm saying, especially you athletes!
Do you have any advice for kids today who want to be professional football players?
The first thing that I'd like to say to them is that in order to be the person that you're reading about is you have to understand that the thing you are doing right now, looking into that computer and having the ability to read and read fluently, is going to be a key to your success at getting to this level because of the fact that without education there is no athletics.
You start out your life going outside and playing ball, but every time you're able to play organized sports, you had to be a part of some education system. So I would like for them to put that educational factor first and foremost, and your talent will take you the rest of the way, as far as the sports are concerned.
Do you have anything you would like to say to the fans who are reading this?
I'd like to thank them for their support over the years. I'd like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to become the person I was able to become in Baltimore, however they want to view me – but I would say I was one of the better, if not the best, wide receiver to come through Baltimore since the Colts.
I enjoyed the opportunity, and they should cherish the opportunity to get out and meet and greet and talk with all of the old Colts players. It is a warm feeling you receive being received by those that were there before and have longed for what we were doing at that time. The Tom Matte's and Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore, all those guys there, were so welcoming. They were so open – their arms were open when we came in. I couldn't thank those guys more than I am today – and this isn't even enough. I always tell them when I walk up to them, "Man, you just don't even know how much I appreciate you!" I always tell them that, and I think the fans of Baltimore should always make them feel like they are special, because they truly, truly are special!
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