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Nate Jackson's comments to the media

May 6, 2004 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Hawaiian Islanders News Release

HONOLULU - Nate Jackson's entry into the arenafootball2 brings new life to the Hawaiian Islanders. The former University of Hawaii star was nervous but honest during his 30-minute press conference with the media on Thursday.

Below is an excerpt of the press conference.

NATE JACKSON STATEMENT TO THE MEDIA:

First of all I’d like to say thank you to the Hawaiian Islanders and Coach (Cal) Lee for giving me this opportunity to do what I love to do, which is play football. I’ve always wanted to play football and this opportunity gives me the chance to continue my career in football. So I am very thankful for that.

I also got clearance from my primary doctor and my surgeon. So everything’s a full go and I’m excited and ready to go at it already.

ON COMING OFF THE SURGERY:

I got cleared over a year ago to play football again and I was able to try to further my career in Europe with the Scottish Claymores but that came to a stop. Now I’m actually happier because I get to come home and play in front of my home crowd again. I’m back in Hawaii and get to run around and have fun. All my family, friends and supporters get to come out and watch me play football again. I’m just excited and kind of nervous because it’s been quite a while.

ON BEING SCARED TO PLAYING FOOTBALL AGAIN:

No. To answer your question, very honestly, I’m not scared at all. With the type of surgery I had or the issues that could come up, I was cleared by my doctors. They did their research and looked into it. They are totally happy with the prognosis and my physical ability and they see nothing wrong.

ON HIS PROGRESS TO BE IN PLAYING SHAPE:

I would say that I’m at about 90 percent. Through my surgeries I lost about 40 pounds but I’ve gained all my weight back plus 20 pounds. The 20 additional pounds is going to slow me down a step. But we call it “game-time speed,” when the lights are down and its live football, who knows how fast I’m going to be.

(Note: Nate Jackson played at UH weighing 165 pounds. He currently weighs 186 pounds).

ON LEARNING THE ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE RULES

I’ve been practicing for a while. It’s just that there were some paper work that I had to take care of. I’m very familiar with the system. I know the system as far as defense. I’m still trying to learn the offense since I haven’t played offense since Pop Warner. So it’s a whole different game and you’re on a different side of the ball. Its something I’m willing to learn and work at.

For me it will probably be the speed. When I was in Florida with the NFL-Europe training camp we had a few live scrimmages, where it was full contact, full speed. So I do have recent live scrimmage type of atmosphere. But it was at a park, on a field, a hundred people, no lights. So when the lights come on and its show time, it’s a different story.

ON LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FIRST HIT

Oh, I am. Hopefully I’ll give it and not take it.

ON PLAYING FOOTBALL AGAIN AND HIS FAMILY

Just playing football is still a goal. And by me playing with the Islanders, it does give me the opportunity to try and further my career whether its the NFL or AFL. There are a few guys from the Islanders that are playing on a higher level. It’s always a goal. I might have to walk off the field on crutches. I might be 50 years old but I’m still trying to play football. That’s just the way I am and that’s what I love to do. I just hope that I can keep playing as long as I can.

My family has supported me through what ever I want to do. It’s because of them that I have this chance to actually play again. That’s the guys that’s keeping me going is family. My kids, wife, cousins, everybody.

ON BEING UNITED WITH SEVERAL OF HIS FORMER UH TEAMMATES

It’s fun. A lot of us are on the field and its like we never left (the game). We are wearing a different color helmet and a different jersey but we all talk the same talk, we all walk the same walk. We’re just a little bit older and a little bit fatter. Hopefully this doesn’t change.

ON CAL LEE AND HIS COACHING STAFF

They’re awesome. Professional. I get out there and it reminds me of Coach Jones or the NFL. Everything is right on, one drill after another. It’s just a business atmosphere on the field and that’s the way it has to be.

ON THE LONG WAIT TO ACTUALLY PLAYING

At some points I’d be questioning myself like, ‘should I even be going to practice?’ Because I know I’m not going to play. My wife would tell me that if I’m going to play, I will play, and that’s kind of what I lived through. If you are going to do something, do it 100 percent. Don’t cut it short because something is not going your way. There was a point where I was thinking, ‘should I or shouldn’t I.’ Then I just went back to my natural self and said you know what if you are going to play, you better go practice. It’s that simple. So there was some doubt there but its not going to happen.

ON MAKING THE 19 MAN PLAYING SQUAD EACH WEEK

Nothing is given in this world. So if you think you’re going to have a guaranteed spot every week, that’s something that I’ve never taken for granted. Eddie Klaneski is one of my idols and he went down with a knee injury. That’s the guy I wanted to play with and I know the guy he is and I know that he was going full speed when he got hurt. It’s no given. It’s a week-to-week thing.

I’ve been watching him (Klaneski) since high school and I wanted to play with him but our timing was a year off.

It’s a big difference. A lot of guys say that arena ball is easy. Until you step on the field and play arena football, it’s not easy. I first said, “the field is smaller, its half this, half that, you get walls.” It’s smaller but you have to be much quicker in this league. Things happen so quick, and your reaction has to be that much quicker. If you come in here with the mentality and technique for the big field, when you step into the arena you won’t be the player you was on the big field. So you have to play and you have to learn.

I’ll play any position they want me to play. I’ll play wedge breaker if I have to. It’s just the love of the game. If I have to play O-line or D-line, I’ll do it just because. Anything to get between the white lines.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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