Tanard Jackson thanks Bucs for welcoming him back
TAMPA — Two hours after being reinstated by the NFL, safety Tanard Jackson ended a 56-week suspension by thanking the organization that welcomed him back after two dismissals and at least three violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Looking fit while wearing a Bucs hat and red long sleeve shirt, Jackson said he had completed a stint at an undisclosed drug treatment facility as required by the league for reinstatement but provided no details.
The Bucs have a two-week roster exemption for Jackson, who can practice with the team and be activated at any time during that period.
“Good to be back,” Jackson said. “Fifty-six weeks. Wow. “I’m anxious, very excited and just willing to do whatever it is at this point to help this team.”
Jackson was suspended four games in 2009 for violating the terms of his drug treatment program and was suspended indefinitely by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after playing two games in 2010.
Jackson, who was not permitted to have any contact with coaches or teammates during most of his suspension, said the isolation was difficult. Because of the NFL lockout, Jackson was able to attend a minicamp organized by Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman in Bradenton last June. He said that was beneficial in convincing him how much he missed the game.
“That’s tough. You build a lot of relationships, from your teammates on up,”” Jackson said. “Being away from those guys and not being able to be in contact with them was difficult. There was a long period there when I couldn’t, besides the Freeman camp I was able to attend, which was very beneficial to me and allowed me to see how much I missed it.””
The timing of Jackson’s reinstatement could not be better for the Bucs, who lost starting free safety Cody Grimm to a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago and play division rival New Orleans twice in the next three games.
Dominik said it will be up to coach Raheem Morris and his staff to determine when Jackson is ready to be activated based on his performance in practice beginning Wednesday.
“Tanard has not played football in 56 weeks,” Dominik said. “Hasn’t practiced very much also in terms of real football drills. It’s going to be an opportunity to go out there and show that muscle memory hasn’t been lost and show what he can do to help this football team has to be significant enough for us to want to activate him.”
Despite his inability to avoid suspension on two previous occassions, Dominik said he was confident in the Bucs decision to welcome Jackson back Tuesday because of the work he had done in a rehab center.
“For me, again, the substance abuse policy is very private and Tanard is going to talk about it. But the fact that I know he’s been in treatment, and that’s a big step in terms of recovery, and the NFL Commissioner and the league office has gotten to this stage where they feel he can be reinstated, gave us the confidence obviously, to welcome him back to this football team.”
-- RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer