TAMPA — After serving out his time for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, safety Tanard Jackson has been reinstated by the NFL and is eligible to play for the Buccaneers this Sunday against the Saints.
Jackson missed all of last season after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for the second time in his short career. He is one of many troubled BUcs trying to turn their lives around while on roster for the Bucs.
Aqib Talib was almost suspended for his actions this offseason and Mike Williams was charged with a DUI last season however he received no league discipline.
There is no word yet on whether or not Jackson will play on Sunday but he is able to return to practice and use team facilities again. Current safety Cody Grimm is out for the year and the general thinking is that Jackson will have a shot at being the Bucs go to safety once more.
“Good to be back,” Jackson said at a press conference today. “Fifty-six weeks. Wow. I’m anxious, very excited and just willing to do whatever it is at this point to help this team.”
Buccaneers GM Mark Doninik said that he looks forward to having Jackson back with the team and hopes he can stay on the right path this time for his coaches and teammates.
“‘My level of trust is actually very high.” Dominik said. “I had a chance to obviously be around Tanard since we drafted him as an organization back in 2007. … Knowing what he’s gone through, now that I’ve been up to date, as well, of what he’s done to get himself to this point, speaks volumes of how important it is for him both personally and professionally.”
Jackson was unable to have contact with coaches to teammates during most of his suspension and the alienation and isolation, Jackson said, showed him just how much he missed the game and loved his Bucs family.
“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.”
Tampa Bay has up to two weeks to decide whether or not they want to activate Jackson, meaning they’d have to trim a man off their 53-man roster to make room. It is unclear whether or not he will play this Sunday against the Saints but just being back is the first step to a brand new lease for Jackson and the first step towards repairing the damaged bridges between himself and his fellow Bucs family.
“It’s not going to be overnight,” he said. “It’s not going to be something done in a year. It’s going to be always a matter of being accountable to those who supported me through this.”