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The OSC Interview: New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger "Spiderman" Jackson

by Fran Stuchbury
August 27, 2015 - Arena Football League (AFL) - New Orleans VooDoo

New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger
New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger "Spiderman" Jackson
(New Orleans VooDoo)

OurSports Central contributor Fran Stuchbury recently interviewed New Orleans VooDoo wide receiver Roger "Spiderman" Jackson. Jackson, playing his first season in the AFL for the VooDoo, caught 74 passes for a rookie team record 924 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jackson was playing in his second season with the Trenton Freedom of the Professional Indoor Football League prior to New Orleans signing him. In 2014 Jackson topped the Freedom with 59 catches for 730 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named the PIFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Fran Stuchbury: How did you end up playing for the New Orleans VooDoo? Were they the only AFL team interested in signing you? How did you like playing for VooDoo head coach Dean Cokinos?

Roger "Spiderman" Jackson: I don't know how I ended up playing for the Voodoo. I want to thank Trenton Freedom coach Keivin O'Hanlon for helping me become a better player. I was told a couple of teams were interested. I definitely appreciate the opportunity when it felt like no one else would let me in. I loved playing for VooDoo coach Cokinos; he challenged me in ways I hadn't been challenged to this point. He helped me grow as a player and a person. He had an intense personality that made you excited to play the game. I definitely appreciate all he did. Voodoo assistant coach Cosmo Dematteo helped me out a great deal. The rest of the VooDoo coaching staff was also outstanding.

FS: Did your VooDoo teammates like your nickname "Spiderman"?

RJ: At this point it's the only name some people know me by. I never really hear Roger a lot. It's almost reverse to what you'd think. I've been "Spiderman" since 2006. I've had people be around for years and only know me as that. So of course it carried on as normal. It was cool to see the fans' reactions at some games.

FS: Talk about the first AFL game you ever played in at home against the Spokane Shock where you caught six passes for 45 yards and one touchdown reception in a 66-63 victory. How was that experience?

RJ: It was very special. Playing in a building in which I grew up attending New Orleans Hornets games; being back in the city able to perform in front of people who watched me grow up; and getting to see Shock quarterback, and my former teammate with the Trenton Freedom, Warren Smith, who I also couldn't say enough about, it was a good day.

FS: The following week during a home 47-39 loss to the Arizona Rattlers, you had a breakout game with 10 receptions for 143 yards and three touchdowns. How was that feeling to put up a big game against the three-time defending ArenaBowl champs?

RJ: That was definitely a fun game, especially to have a game like that at home. I don't really get caught up in the titles. Of course you admire what teams and players have done. You look to do and accomplish those things also. But I'm going to play my game to the best of my ability regardless of the opponent.

FS: How did you like playing with VooDoo quarterbacks Adam Kennedy and Brian Reader?

RJ: Adam Kennedy! What a talent. You never get tired of a quarterback with NFL size running in with the plays. He has a cannon for an arm and is not afraid to try to make something happen, overall just a fun guy to play with.

Can't say enough about Brian Reader who has been as big an influence on my career as anyone. He was with the Iowa Barnstormers last season when they played in the AFL while I was there during camp. He helped me, then took me to watch film. He helped me see the game and what it should look like. When I saw he was going to New Orleans, I wished him the best, not knowing I'd be his teammate again. When I joined the VooDoo once again, he had me watching film learning how to see the game, telling me what to expect. He knows the game and is a student of the game. He knows what's coming, so of course when we got to play together, he knew what I was capable of. But not only that. I knew what to expect because of him, so it is a blessing to have played with such great quarterbacks in Kennedy and Reader.

FS: How was your experience dealing with the New Orleans VooDoo fans?

RJ: You know I love to interact with the fans no matter where I am. But it was especially fun being at home. So it was the usual antics with me: high fives and handshakes to everyone, but definitely emotional being from here. It was something I'd never forget. New Orleans deserves Arena football. We had some of the most passionate fans in the AFL, Pope Clown for instance. They can support anything if it was run right.

FS: What road trip did you enjoy the most when you played for the New Orleans VooDoo?

RJ: Well even though the game didn't end like we wanted, the last trip to the Jacksonville Sharks was cool because we were on a sleeper bus. I've never been on a bus like that. So that was cool to be around the veterans for the last time.

FS: How does the talent level in the AFL compare to that in the Professional Indoor Football League?

RJ: I don't want to say it's the same. I don't want to say there's a big gap, but the depth of teams, it definitely shows, but every PIFL team has a more than a couple players that can compete. At what level I don't know, but competition is just that. Personally I feel that any football league out there, I could play in that league and compete. I'm sure every player in the PIFL feels the same, but don't get me wrong, there are some monsters in the AFL, more than some.

FS: You must have been happy your former Trenton Freedom teammate Warren Smith also played in the AFL, with the Spokane Shock?

RJ: Again, can't say enough about Warren, couldn't be more proud or happy for him. He's definitely a leader; a field general, an extra coach if needed. He just knows how to get it done. I can see him being one of the great quarterbacks in the AFL. He plays with a fearless passion and is a great friend and teammate.

FS: How do you feel about the Trenton Freedom announcing they have ceased operations?

RJ: I was very sad to hear that the Trenton Freedom team was folding. It was a great organization with great owners and staff. I know for a fact the community was proud of the team. It was something they could look to for positivity. I was going to keep up with them for the rest of their existence. I hope something happens to bring them back, but always #TF4LIFE. We had great players and we always left it all on the historical red turf!

FS: On the last ever VooDoo home game against the Tampa Bay Storm that the team won 66-53, the crowd was very passionate. Was that emotional for you and VooDoo players since that could possibly be the last AFL home game played in New Orleans until they can find a committed ownership group?

RJ: Definitely an emotional game for many reasons, but it was a prime example of what the AFL could and should look like in New Orleans. Of course I'm a rookie so I don't know what it takes to run an organization. The people in the front office did an amazing job as far as I could see. But the sky is the limit in New Orleans with anything, especially sports, if you can get the community involved.

FS: How disappointing was it for you and your teammates to have the July 25th road game at the Las Vegas Outlaws cancelled? Was the team paid for that game?

RJ: It was very disappointing for me. Being a rookie in cities we played at and I have never been to, was a first for me. That was definitely a trip I was excited to take. Anytime anything football related is cancelled, it's a disappointment, especially when you think about it being an entire game we didn't get to play. We were taken care of, though.

FS: What are your plans during the AFL off-season? What will you are doing?

RJ: I plan to stay in shape for NFL/CFL opportunities. Again, this is my first AFL offseason, and with the team ending like it did. I don't know what a typical offseason would be like, as far as being a free agent and waiting to hear from other teams.

FS: You are a free agent in the AFL next season? Have teams expressed an interest in signing you? Do you have any preference on where in the country you would like to play?

RJ: I've heard from a couple teams, but nothing to make me think about where I'll be. As of now, I don't know what the future holds or where I'll be. In a normal situation, I'm sure I'd be returning to the same team, but we obviously didn't end in a normal manner. Every Florida trip was amazing, I loved playing in the North when I was there, and the west coast was cool to see for the first time. So of course seeing the country is cool, but the best situation would be better. I'm excited to see what happens.

FS: What is your prediction on who will win ArenaBowl XXVIII Saturday night between the Jacksonville Sharks and San Jose SaberCats?

RJ: This is hard because although we played against both teams, I've only played against Jacksonville. But it's hard because I've been around San Jose SaberCats wide receiver Darius Reynolds when I was with the Iowa Barnstormers. I know what he's capable of. Everyone knows what San Jose WR Reggie Gray is capable of, but then again I know firsthand that Jacksonville is a great team. But I'll go SaberCats by one just because I can't pick against #7 in green Darius Reynolds.

Images from this story

New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger
New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger "Spiderman" Jackson

New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger
New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger "Spiderman" Jackson with Spokane Shock QB Warren Smith

New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger
New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger "Spiderman" Jackson

New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger
New Orleans VooDoo WR Roger "Spiderman" Jackson


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