By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
Malik Jackson didn’t arrive in Jacksonville in 2016 as an unrestricted free agent from Denver with just a Super Bowl 50 ring. He also brought a strong desire to help others.
The defensive tackle who is in his second season with the Jaguars after spending four years with the Broncos, started a foundation, Malik’s Gifts, which supports military families, at-risk youths, and pet adoption.
“I wanted to start a foundation in Denver, but I didn’t have the capital. Once I got my second contract I was able to get a little capital,” Jackson said with a laugh. “I decided where I wanted to help. Out in Colorado, I was able to do football camps for some families that had lost a family member in the war. That touched me so much that I had to help the military. And Denver being a military town, and Jacksonville being a military town, it was a no-brainer.”
The 2017 Jaguars Community Leadership Award winner, earlier this year, Jackson contributed money to Jacksonville’s Five Star Veterans Center, which provides safe housing for veterans who are facing homelessness and unemployment. He also funded Gold Star Wives Day, which honored 50 widows of servicemen who lost their lives while serving in the military.
“You do things for people,” Jackson said. “I do it to just kind of connect myself. I realize that hey, Malik, whatever you’ve got going on with this football stuff, look what they’re going through. Look how they’re persevering through it. So, it’s cool when you see people and you do things for them, but at that time I’m just thinking wow, they’re really teaching me something with what they’re going through.”
Nominated by the Jaguars for the league’s annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA, the NFL’s official military appreciation sponsor, Jackson is one of 32 nominees, one from each team, who are being recognized for demonstrating an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community.
“It’s not something I work for or I’m going to do so I can win this award,” Jackson said. “It’s just being recognized for the things that I’m doing and the things that my teammates are helping me do. It’s awesome. It’s a blessing and I’m just very thankful that I can continue to serve the Jags and the NFL in the right way and be a great role model and just go out here and keep winning games for this team.”
Finalists for the award will be announced in January, and this year’s winner will be recognized during NFL Honors, the primetime awards show which will be televised on NBC on February 3, 2018 the evening before Super Bowl LII.