GREELEY, Colo. — You can easily make the case that Vincent Jackson is the best football player to ever play for the Northern Colorado Bears.
Jackson’s parents fondly remember their time going to Greeley for games.
"We would make that drive up, and watch him with just such pride and happiness,” said Sherry Jackson, Vincent’s mother.
Terence Jackson, Vincent’s father, echoed the same sentiment.
“Greeley became another part of our family," said Terence.
The Bears recognized Jackson’s greatness last weekend when they retired his No. 81 jersey, hanging up on the press box next to the jersey of legendary quarterback Corte McGuffey.
“I was really happy and proud for Vincent that UNC would do that for him,” said Sherry. “We knew that only one other person’s number had been retired. So we knew it was an extreme honor. As much as he loved playing, I don’t think he ever thought it would explode like it did.”
“I was so proud of the university for selecting Vincent’s jersey to be retired. He really loved the school,” said Terence.
Jackson soared up NFL draft boards after his All-American senior season in 2004. He is one of only two players in program history to have two 1,000 yards receiving seasons, holding the top-two single season spots.
His NFL career was special. After being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 2005 NFL Draft, he went on to a 12-year professional career. Jackson was selected to three Pro Bowls and racked up over 9,000 receiving yards and 57 touchdowns.
His philanthropy was selfless. Jackson helped so many people in the San Diego and Tampa Bay communities, capped off by his Jackson in Action 83 Foundation that provided support to military families, focusing on the educational, emotional and physical health of the children.
His death? Shocking.
“We take it one day at a time,” Sherry said. “And we’re very fortunate to have friends and family that support us.”
Terence Jackson was honest about the healing process.
“Healing is very hard (and) I’m not sure exactly what they mean by the word healing. There’s a hole in my heart that will never ever be filled. I know that," Terence said.
Jackson made his mark at UNC, no doubt about it. He is the Bears’ all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdowns, but his parents told 9NEWS that he wasn’t just passionate about athletics.
“His first sport was academics. Vincent was always into school and books,” said Terence.
“He was passionate about that in life and telling his kids your education comes first. He would tell any child. That’s why he started scholarship funds and different things for people,” said Sherry.
Jackson will surely be remembered for his work on and off the field. His legacy will be long lasting.
“We’re just going to try to keep his legacy alive. We’re going to try and go through this healing process together," said Terence.
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