Nathan Ross "Nate" Jackson (born June 4, 1979) is a writer and former American football player. Undrafted out of Menlo College in 2002, he spent most of his professional career with the Denver Broncos from 2003 to 2008 before injury problems brought an end to his career in 2009. After retirement Jackson began writing football-related commentary for the New York Times and various online publications, frequently drawing upon his experiences as a player. His memoir Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile was published in 2013.
A graduate of Pioneer High School in San Jose, California, Jackson played at NAIA school Menlo College from 1999–2001, and was a key factor in helping the school get attention for its athletics programs. During those seasons he set many records as a wide receiver. He was named first-team All-American during every season he was enrolled, and won the NCAA D-III Offensive Player of the Year after his senior year in 2001. Jackson was inducted into the Menlo College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
San Francisco 49ers
After going unselected in the 2002 NFL Draft, Jackson was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers on the recommendation of former 49ers coach Bill Walsh, whose son was the athletic director at Menlo College. After suffering a shoulder injury during training camp he was cut by the 49ers, but was re-signed when the 2002 season ended.
Jackson was traded to the Denver Broncos prior to the 2003 NFL season. He spent most of 2003 on the practice squad before appearing in his first NFL game on December 28, 2003.
Jackson was allocated to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe for the spring of 2004. During Jackson's 2004 season with the Broncos he emerged as an option at receiver, catching 8 passes for 73 yards, and also recorded 7 special teams tackles.
Jackson was converted from wide receiver to tight end prior to the start of the 2005 season.
Jackson made his first career start during the 2007 season but later tore a groin muscle.
Jackson's last season with the Broncos was in 2008, during which he set career highs with 11 receptions for 84 yards, while also scoring a touchdown. He was released by the Broncos in February 2009, following the hiring of new head coach Josh McDaniels one month earlier.
Jackson signed with the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2009 season but was released before the season began.
Las Vegas Locomotives
Jackson signed with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL but never played in any games. His football career came to an end after suffering a hamstring injury in training camp.
Life after football
Beginning in 2010, Jackson contributed articles to various popular websites and newspapers on a freelance basis. His writing about the NFL has appeared in Slate, Deadspin, The Daily Beast, The New York Times The Wall Street Journal, and BuzzFeed. His memoir Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile was released by HarperCollins on September 17, 2013. It received favorable reviews including from the New York Times which said of Jackson, "He's that unicornlike rarity among former football players: He can write."
On August 7, 2013 an excerpt from Jackson's memoir was published in the alternative weekly newspaper Cleveland Scene. Focusing on his brief stint on the Browns practice squad just prior to the 2009 season, Jackson describes the Browns players as having been "deep in despair" with "no fight left in them." He attributed the poor state of affairs to Browns then-head coach Eric Mangini, of whom he was highly critical. According to Jackson, the Browns' players were already beaten down because Mangini didn't treat them with respect, unlike Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. Soon to see a new book released.
Criticism of NFL marijuana policy
Jackson has called on the NFL to remove marijuana from its list of banned substances, citing the pain relieving capabilities of the drug as well as its neuroprotective properties. During his NFL career Jackson used marijuana as a preferred alternative to opioid painkillers which he sought to avoid as much as possible. Jackson is a member of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, a group that advocates for changing the NFL's policy on marijuana. He has spoken out on the league's policy in various media including the New York Times opinion page, CBS This Morning, and an episode of HBO's Real Sports examining marijuana use in the NFL.