This week's guest on The Fish Tank podcast is former Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl tight end, Keith Jackson. Here are a few "FishBites" from Keith's time in The Tank with with O.J. McDuffie and Seth Levit:
Jackson, who also played with Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre over the course of his career, explained what made Dan Marino so special:
"He's different from all quarterbacks. Typically, as a receiver, you look back at the quarterback trying to see the ball. When you play with Dan, the release is so fast you look back for the ball because if you're looking back at him, you're going to drop passes. My first day in camp, I dropped so many passes. I was like, 'can I still catch?' Marino was the best pure pocket passer. I don't think there is anybody else. He would put [the ball] somewhere where the other guy couldn't get it and you could get, and you'd go, 'I don't know how he does that.'"
In 1992, Jackson became a trailblazer in the NFL's Free Agency process:
"Sometimes you're caught up in history and don't know it. I was the guy that had the All Pros and Pro Bowls and so here I am in the midst of it going, 'you know, I'm willing to fight this. I think I'm a good enough player where, if I can't get signed with another team there had to be some collusion.'"
After signing with the Dolphins on September 29, 1992, Jackson had just five days to learn Miami's offense before facing the Buffalo Bills:
"I flew in on a Tuesday. Wednesday I was at practice and played on Sunday. "Gary Stevens said, 'we're going to break you in slowly; our playbook is very difficult.' And I said, 'I'll have it remembered by the end of the week. This is football. This is not Shakespeare!' And so I learned all the plays. They didn't put anything special in for me. I played on Sunday and caught my first touchdown as a Dolphin that game."
Jackson loved O.J. McDuffie's competitive fire as a rookie, but sometimes had to give him a veteran perspective:
"O.J. would get a punt return. He makes a move, he gets 10 yards, and he gets tripped up. He comes to the sidelines so angry; he's throwing stuff. I'm like, 'what's going on?' He says, 'I should've taken that one to the house!' I go, 'O.J., this is the NFL. Those guys over there get paid a lot of money to tackle you. So sometimes, you're gonna get tackled.'"
The rapport he developed with Dan Marino and former Dolphins offensive coordinator, Gary Stevens was very meaningful to Jackson:
"Gary Stevens called me Jack-Man. He'd say, 'if Jack-Man says it's going to work, it's going to work.' And he believed me. I'm sitting there and I'm doing these tendencies. I'm going, 'every third third-down they're going to this coverage and if they do that, we can get O.J. on that post.' And they said, 'OK.' Now, let me tell you something. There were some times that I was wrong. And Dan Marino, in his great Italian, would curse me out. I'd go, 'Dan, I'm right most of the time! But every now and then…hey, I'm not a computer, I'm just going by tendencies.'"
Jackson developed a unique weekly weight loss routine, and it required O.J.'s assistance:
"We found out this rookie not only had a hot tub, but he had a hot tub that had a covering. You could open it up and and look and the smoke would come out. And so we'd go, 'we could lose a lot more weight! O.J., we're coming to your house. We're not asking…we're coming to your house.' We get in this hot tub, I mean, you've never felt [so much] heat. I used to take people over there and they would repent for their sins it was so hot."
Don Shula had a lasting impression on Jackson's life:
"Coach Shula was a guy that demanded excellence. He wanted you to do things right, and he always harped on the things you did wrong. Now, fast forward, I think about all of the coaches I played for and my management style in business is way more like Coach Shula's than anybody else's. The way that I conduct my life today is Coach Shula's pattern of doing stuff. I loved my relationship with Coach Shula after football."
Following his tenure in Miami, Jackson made a major lifestyle change in signing with the Green Bay Packers:
"I'm driving past this bank and I look up there and it says time, 0:00, temperature, minus 20 degrees. So I go in to talk to Reggie White, because Reggie White was one of the guys who talked me into coming to Green Bay. I said, 'I just drove past the bank…' Reggie, with that raspy voice, said, 'What's that got to do with anything, K-Jack?' I said, 'Can't you see time had sense enough to leave town!'"
Listen to the entire Keith Jackson interview, as well as all episodes of The Fish Tank podcast on the Miami Dolphins Podcast Network, which can be found on all streaming platforms.
Miami Dolphins Podcast Network: https://www.miamidolphins.com/audio/the-fish-tank