Catching Up with Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson


When the Vikings drafted little known quarterback Tarvaris Jackson out of Alabama State in the 2nd round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Brad Childress was a rookie head coach, Brad Johnson was the team’s incumbent starting quarterback and Brett Favre was more popular than beer in the state of Wisconsin.

Since then Jackson has been the Vikings quarterback of future, opening day starter, benched in favor of journeyman Gus Frerotte and twice staged a sham battle with Sage Rosenfels for the starting job before Favre came in at the end of training camp and took over. Yes, a lot has happened during T-Jack’s tenure with the Vikings and to his credit, he remains.

The 5-year veteran took some time out to chat with me about his career, head coach, former teammates and future after finishing a game of dominoes with defensive tackle Fred Evans on Thursday at Winter Park.

DZ: This season isn’t playing out the way you guys had hoped, but it’s Packer week this week, is that always kind of special?

JACKSON: Yeah, you always want to beat those guys. They are in our division and we play them a lot, so we are familiar with them and hopefully we can get a victory against those guys because they beat us last time.

DZ: You’ve been on the team for five years and have been around this rivalry, what stands out about it?

JACKSON: From being up here - there are just as many Packer fans as there are Minnesota fans. People from Wisconsin love the Packers and people from Minnesota love their Vikings. The thing that stands out is that they really hate the other team.

DZ: Since you’ve been here there have been quite a few quarterbacks who have come and gone, do you stay in touch with any of those guys?

JACKSON: Every now and then. I am not saying we are best friends and talk all of the time, but I still keep in touch with most of the guys.

DZ: When Sage (Rosenfels) was here that must have been kind of an awkward relationship because you were both going for the same job and then Brett comes in and you’re both back-ups again. What was all of that like?

JACKSON: It was different, it was a different situation but we had one thing in common and that was the situation with Brett. We’d been through it two years, so we became closer. I am not going to say we are best friends, but we hung out a little bit. We had a great relationship.

DZ: Have you talked to him at all since he’s left?

JACKSON: Yeah, I’ve talked to him.

DZ: I want to ask you about Joe Webb too. He’s a guy who is similar to you in a lot of ways and in some ways different. He came from a small school, you are both from Alabama. What can you tell me about his game, what have you seen in him so far?

JACKSON: He is very talented. Everyone knows he’s athletic, he is a big guy, he can run, throw the football. He just has to learn. Like you said, we are from the same area. I remember when I was coming out of college, my coach was actually trying to get him to come to school (at Alabama State) and I was trying to aid in that. Like you said, we have a lot in common, we kind of clicked from day one.

DZ: He said you’ve kind of helped him out as a mentor, has that been kind of a new role for you?

JACKSON: Yeah, I just try to help him out and try to show him the ropes, try to make sure that he understands the NFL, how it works, what is good or bad, how to prepare and all of that stuff. I am just trying to help him out as much as possible.

DZ: You guys are different in a way too because he comes in as the 3rd string guy - not a whole lot of question about that - and at the end of your rookie year, you were starting. Do wish you had more time to observe things? Which way do you think is better?

JACKSON: It was fine. Unfortunately I got in because guys got injured. Like you said, our situation is different so far, but you never know - we’ve got seven more games left. Whenever you can get in there and get a chance to play, regardless of how much you learn (on the sidelines), you’ve got to get the game experience.

DZ: Your relationship with the fans - they’ve been kind of hard on you at times - but there was a poll after the last Green Bay game in the Star Tribune asking who should be the starting quarterback and you won it pretty easily. Did you hear about that at all?

JACKSON: Nah, I didn’t.

DZ: You are on a one-year contract right now, is this a place where you want to come back to and try and make it happen?

JACKSON: Right now, man you are just trying to finish out these seven games. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to all of that with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and that stuff. I am really just trying to take it one day at a time, being here right now and trying to win games.

DZ: You come into the New England game - first action of the year - and you throw a touchdown pass, that had to be pretty cool.

JACKSON: Yeah, it was the first time I played in a meaningful game since 2008. Most of the games I played in last year were pretty much over - they were already over. It felt good to get into a game where it kind of meant something, but unfortunately it came when Brett got hurt, but it felt good to get out there and play.

DZ: You guys didn’t get the stop there (after the touchdown made it 21-18), but if things had worked out a little differently, you guys could have had a chance to tie or win the game too.

JACKSON: I felt very good about our chances to go down the field and score. I was hoping our defense could get a stop - stop those guys and at least give ourselves a chance, but unfortunately it didn’t work like that.

DZ: A lot has been made about your head coach, Brad Childress. He’s the guy who brought you in here and you guys have been tied together in a lot of ways throughout your career. He’s always stuck with you - at least on some level. What is your relationship with him like?

JACKSON: It’s cool. It’s a working relationship. We’ve been here going on five years now - it’s my 5th year here and his 5th year here - so we’ve kind of been through a lot here together, but I don’t think it’s any different than any of the other quarterback/coach relationships. Like you said, I am still here so they think something about me I guess. It’s been a rocky road these past five years and we’ve been through similar things.

DZ: What is the No. 1 thing you think you’ve learned through all of these up and downs?

JACKSON: Off the field stuff really. You’ve got to prioritize things right and make sure you understand what’s most important.

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Vikings players:

November 18: Husain Abdullah
November 12: Joe Webb

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