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A Conversation with (Fake) Steven Jackson

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Steven Jackson, you have vexed me for long enough. Yeah, you heard that right. He’s made me second-guess myself one too many times. If he was a woman and we’d been on a first date, I don’t think he would’ve given me reason enough to ask him on a second, you know? That’s how mixed his signals are.

Are you aware of that scene in “Hitch” when Will Smith tells the men of America they’re supposed to lean in 90 percent for a kiss and let the women meet them the other 10 percent? Well, Jackson is 3-percent short. Not for a kiss. Let’s not take this analogy too far. I mean for me to have the guts to lean in and take you at the start of the second round in this year’s draft.

So here’s what he’s going to do for me: he’s going to have a conversation with me. Help me work through my commitment issues. I really want to take him at the start of the second round; I do. Especially if I get someone like Calvin Johnson at the first-round turn and I need a sure-thing runner heading into the third. But he’s going to have to talk me into it. Can he do that? He can? Great. Thanks.

DG: I have some issues with drafting you as early as the start of the second round this year, holographic Jackson of my mind. I know a lot of experts who are that high on you this year, but I have my doubts.

SJ: Doubts? Doubts?! What kind of doubts are we talking about here, little man?

DG: Well, and I don’t want to put this the wrong way … you’re a great guy and all, and I really dig the whole dreadlocks thing – you manage to pull it off without looking like Ricky Williams’ Rastafarian little brother – but you’re kind of old. Not for life, I mean. But you’re old for a running back. Thirty is the new 40 for backs, man.

SJ: Thirty’s not old at all. Guess you don’t know much about football history. You mentioned Ricky Williams, before. My dude rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2009, and he was over 30.

DG: That’s fair, but I’m looking for more than just 1,000 yards out of you if I’m taking you in the early second round. And since you’re bringing up history, ever hear of Shaun Alexander? In 2005, his 28-year-old season, he rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns. At 30 – same team, same dude – Alexander rushed for 716 yards and four touchdowns.

SJ: Whatever, man. I’m no Alexander. What about Marcus Allen? Or Fred Taylor? Or Tiki Barber? Or Barry Sanders? Or Walter Payton?

DG: Yeah, but what about Ahman Green? Or Thurman Thomas? Or Edgerrin James? Or Earl Campbell? Or Eric Dickerson? Or Marshall Faulk? Even if some 30-year-old backs beat the odds and are still great, how can I gamble on you so early in the draft and feel good about it?

SJ: Listen, bro, and you might learn something. I take great care of my body. I get acupuncture. Bet you didn’t know that. But you won’t believe me that I’m still ready to go, so I’ll just give you the straight truth: I don’t have to be great this year. I’m going to be great, but I don’t have to be.

DG: What do you mean you don’t have to be great?

SJ: Open your eyes! Look at my offense! I have Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. You think my boy Ryan isn’t going to move us down the field? You think I’m not going to be at the 2-yard-line 30 times next year with the ball against my belly?

DG: I’m listening …

SJ: I’m not the 25-year-old me anymore, but I don’t need to be, man. Defenses are going to be playing off of me. You know what defenses did to me in St. Louis? I was the whole team. I had nowhere to go, but I still made yards for years. Let’s say I lost a step – I haven’t, just so you know, but let’s just play it your way. You don’t think playing in Atlanta’s offense will make up for that?

DG: It didn’t for Michael Turner last year.

SJ: Man, Turner was done before last year. Watch the tape. I still have burst. I still have something in the tank. And I’m getting at least 12 touchdowns this year – you can put that in the bank.

DG: Okay. But what about Jacquizz Rodgers?

SJ: What about him?

DG: Won’t he take carries from you? He’s pretty good, you know.

SJ: You think they gave me a payday to sit me on the bench? Rodgers has game, but I do what he did when Turner was there, and I do it better than he ever has. I have some of the best hands in football. I’m a phenomenal pass blocker. He’s there to spell me, man, not to eat 40-percent of my touches.

DG: You may have me convinced. Did anyone ever tell you you’re a persuasive man? 

SJ: Did anyone ever tell you that you should consider growing dreadlocks? They’re low maintenance.

DG: You may have me convinced. Did anyone ever tell you you’re a persuasive man? 

SJ: Whatever, bro.