TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 30: Fred Jackson #22 of the Buffalo Bills runs by LaRon Landry #30 of the Washington Redskins at Rogers Centre on October 30, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
"I think that Fred Jackson guy that they have there... he's a tremendous player. The reason I say that is this guy can do everything. He can run and he can block and he can catch. There aren't many of those guys left. That guy's a football player... When you see him, you tell him there's a dinosaur coach that thinks a lot of him. I like him a lot. A whole lot." - Bill Parcells in June 2012
Every year here at Buffalo Rumblings, we run a summer series in which we talk about the ten most important Buffalo Bills players entering a given season. Where in past seasons we've focused the series on guys that needed to perform if the team was going to succeed, this year's focus will just be on the team's ten players most likely to directly influence the team's successes or failures in 2012.
Next up on the list: running back Fred Jackson, the team's best and most consistent player.
I could write an entire book's worth of praise for Jackson, who in my opinion is one of the greatest stories in sports. I could talk at length about just how good he is as a football player, what a rare teammate he is, and how his consistent play provides Chan Gailey's offense a heartbeat.
The thing is, you've all seen Jackson play, and you know his story. You already know all of these things. His importance to the team is well-established, and aside from a very obvious player that's yet to be listed in this series (but soon will be), Jackson is easily the most important player on offense for Buffalo.
As much as we talk about how Jackson isn't slowing down at age 31, however, the presence of teammate C.J. Spiller may actually be a boon to his career. Jackson's the better back, but Spiller's upside is considerable, and as we've talked about all off-season, Gailey needs to find a way to utilize both backs effectively in his offense. If he's able to accomplish that, not only will Buffalo's offense improve, but Jackson's shelf life could be extended. That's a win-win.