On May 7, 2012, Buffalo Bills' running back, Fred Jackson signed a three-year, $10.805 million deal. He received $3 million for picking up the pen and inking his name on the contract.
Let's pretend that Jackson didn't sit in that Bills' office, he didn't have a contract in front of him to sign, the pen wasn't in his hand, and he didn't negotiate a single term of the deal.
No. Fred Jackson wasn't in that NFL office. Instead, he was sitting in Lamar High School's locker room on a Friday night. It was his senior year—final game—and he still hadn't gotten the blessing from his head coach that he could be a starter, even for just his final high school game.
And let's pretend after his last high school game—ending the year as a third-string running back—Jackson got discouraged from the 0.08% chance he had to make it to the NFL and he felt dejected after hearing 13 of his high school teammates already signed to play college football.
Then pretend that Jackson had too much pride to go from Division I dreams, to enrolling in Division III's Coe College. Maybe having to pay for college was too much for Jackson because he felt he should've received a scholarship like his high school teammates. Pretend that Coe College would even offer Jackson a scholarship.
Now pretend that Jackson gave up after his junior year at Coe, when he rushed for 1,702 yards and 29 touchdowns and still couldn't make it into a big-named college. Pretend the All-American awards he earned meant something.
And after his senior year, maybe—just maybe—he would finally get recognition and drafted into the NFL. But Jackson failed to understand that he had just a tad over 1% chance to make it into the NFL after graduating from Coe.
Let's pretend that Jackson listened to those percentages and didn't accept a running back spot on the Sioux City Bandits roster. In fact, let's pretend that he gave up his football dreams well before the Bandits. He stopped pursing his NFL hopes after trying out for the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers and got rejected, thrice.
Pretend Jackson listened to those NFL teams when they told him he was too small to play running back. Or pretend that the $200 per week paycheck Jackson received from the Bandits was too humiliating to continue on his football path.
Pretend Jackson couldn't keep getting those checks for the next two years. And pretend that moving to Europe to play for NFL Europa was too far for Jackson. Because he had already turned 26 years old, which, in the NFL, would almost qualify him for AARP benefits.
So up to this point, Jackson was too small and too old to take the field, according to the NFL. And according to statistics, and his one-in-1,250 chance of playing professional football...he was never going to make it, especially after not being able to start in high school, or even make a Division I college football team.
Someone should've told Jackson. Well, they should've told him again. Because from the looks of things, he hasn't been listening this entire time.
Jackson's unmatched hustle and unbridled determination landed him in the Buffalo Bills' training camp in 2006. He began his NFL career in Marshawn Lynch's rearview mirror, but kept his eyes on the front seat. It took him three years to make it into the NFL after college, and it took him the same amount of time to rip the starting job from Lynch in 2009.
Now, back to reality, where we're back in the Bills' front offices and Fred Jackson has pen-to-paper, about to sign his $10.805 million deal.
Pretend you're not rooting for this young man.