On The Line: Tyree Jackson
The DC Defenders ended the truncated 2020 XFL regular season with a 15-6 victory over the St. Louis BattleHawks in Week 5, which saw the emergence of two stars: the Audi Field Beer Snake, and quarterback Tyree Jackson.
The former University of Buffalo star and 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year replaced starting quarterback Cardale Jones in the first half, and would go on the lead the Defenders to victory. The skyscraping Jackson finished the game 9-of-14 for 39 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball seven times for 32 yards.
We caught up with Jackson to get his thoughts on the season and to see what he's been up to.
Here is the transcript of our chat with Jackson.
ON THE LINE: TYREE JACKSON
How have things been going? Have you found yourself getting bored at home yet?
Jackson: Really just the same as everyone else, you know, working out, running, trying to stay in shape as much as possible. But really just staying inside and trying to go with the flow of whats going on day-to-day.
Have you picked up any hobbies or are you binging anything on NetFlix?
Jackson: I watched 'Tiger King' on Netflix with my girlfriend. That was a really good one. I have been playing a ton of video games. I've been playing a lot of Madden, sometimes with some of my teammates, and playing a lot of 2K.
Who is the worst on the team in Madden?
Jackson: Hah. Hmm, you know I don't know who the worst is, but the best is probably 'Pump' [RB Donnel Pumphrey]. I hate to say it, but yeah, he's probably the best, he's definitely got the best of me most times we've played. He's beat a lot of the guys.
How's your dog been during this all? Has it been different with you being home all the time now?
Jackson: I've been seeing a ton of funny memes about dogs getting tired of going on walks and I'm starting to feel like that's how my dog feels. He's been going on four or five walks a day and I think he's probably tired of the same thing.
How did the cancellation of the season impact your offseason plans? Did you have anything already set up for the offseason?
Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. I had several places lined up to train at, but all the facilities are closed now, so I'm figuring it out on the fly, getting back to the basics of pushups, situps, those types of things. Plus, once I got back to Buffalo, I was able to workout in my girlfriends' dad's gym in their garage so that has been nice to get back into traditional lifting. But this is definitely been a lot different than anything I've ever done.
I don't think we've ever asked you think before, but, when you were drafted by there Defenders, you had some opportunities in the NFL on practice squads, camps, competing for backup jobs. What was the primary reason for choosing the XFL?
Jackson: The opportunity to grow was just huge. With the modernities that coach [Pep] Hamilton has and where he's been in the NFL, I just felt like that would be a great opportunity to learn and to play football. You know, I hadn't played football since preseason and I really wanted to get back out there and play live football and get live reps. I definitely got to accomplish that in our short season and I learned a lot from Pep and the rest of the coaches, coach [Ted] White included. It was a great decision and I am happy I made it.
Was there anything, in particular, you took away from learning from coach Hamilton and coach White, guys who so much offensive experience?
Jackson: Yeah. The knowledge of the game. There is so much more you can learn at each level. You know, it's crazy. You think you know a good amount about football, and then you meet someone like coach Pep who has been around for so long and he could remember a third-and-5 from when he was with the Colts however many years ago. I was awesome to learn from him and pick his brain about stuff. I feel like there's not one specific thing I learned because I learned so much on the field and off the field. He could cut a play up and watch, maybe, not even a second of it, and tell you what coverage it's going to be, and other intricate stuff based on footwork, just really interesting details not everyone can see.
What was it like to play with your former college teammate James O'Hagan again?
Jackson: Oh that was awesome. He's probably one of my best friends, you know, him being my center my whole career in college and now to go and get another chance to play together was just awesome. I really enjoyed it. it was nice to have someone you're familiar with.
What was your mindset going into Week 5 against the BattleHawks? Coach Hamilton has said you were designed to go in after the first two series. Those were your first regular-season snaps as a pro. What was your mentality leading into that game?
Jackson: I was prepared the whole week and I understood the game plan and what coach wanted to get done.I knew that my chance was going to be available and that I could make the most of it. I was just excited to get out there and, kinda light a spark and get it going. But I wasn't too nervous or anything like that. I was just ready to play.
How did it feel to go out there and make some moves on guys like Will Hill? You surprise any of your teammates?
Jackson: Hah. Yeah they were all messing with me, all the running backs clowning me saying I did it by accident, hah. But it was funny I didn't realize until after the game because in the moment I was just trying to get a first down. It was third-and-6, so I was just trying to get the first down. After the game, I saw the clip and didn't know he fell like that, then I started seeing all the TikTok and Instagram posts you did. It was awesome.
Defenders: Do you have a favorite memory from this season?
Jackson: Honestly, anytime we were playing at home was awesome. You know, before we started the season, we had little bets, like 'How many people will show up' and things like that. Then we go out there for Week 1 and to see just how many people were there, and how into the game they all were was really cool.