Pro Football Player | Class of 1997
Keith Jackson is a former college and professional football player and current radio broadcast color analyst for University of Arkansas (U of A) at Fayetteville football. Jackson began working with the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network in 2000. Jackson is the founder of P.A.R.K. (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a nonprofit recreational and educational program designed to provide “high-risk” students the opportunity to further their education by completing high school so they can attend college.
Keith Jerome Jackson was born on April 19, 1965, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and grew up in a single-parent home with his mother, Gladys Jackson. He went on to become a successful high school athlete, earning letters in football, basketball, and track at Little Rock Parkview High School.
A highly recruited football player, Jackson chose to play for head coach Barry Switzer at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Due to his phenomenal blocking skills in Oklahoma’s wishbone offense, he was named by consensus All-American as a tight end in 1986 and 1987. He was named to the Big Eight All-Conference team three times. Despite playing in the run-heavy offense, Jackson finished his collegiate career with sixty-two pass receptions for 1,470 yards and fourteen touchdowns, averaging 23.7 yards per catch. He helped the Sooners to a 42–5–1 record and the 1985 national championship. Jackson also was named a Big Eight All-Academic four times, earning his bachelor’s degree in communications in just three and a half years.
Jackson was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the thirteenth pick of the 1988 National Football League (NFL) draft as a 6’2”, 250-pound tight end. Head coach Buddy Ryan named Jackson his starting tight end upon drafting the rookie, placing him ahead of two veteran players. Despite playing in a run-heavy offense in college, he set a new team receptions record for the Eagles in his first season and finished with eighty-one catches for 869 yards and six touchdowns. He was named Sporting News Rookie of the Year and National Football Conference (NFC) Rookie of the Year. He became the only rookie selected on the NFC Pro Bowl team. Jackson went on to be selected to play in six Pro Bowls (1988–90, 1992–93, 1996).
Jackson played nine seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, Miami Dolphins, and Green Bay Packers, winning Super Bowl XXXI with the Packers in January 1997. Considered to be one of greatest tight ends to play football, Jackson finished his career with 441 catches for 5,283 yards and forty-nine touchdowns.
Upon retirement, Jackson began working with the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network in 2000 after three years of television and radio experience. Jackson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. He serves as an inspirational speaker at churches, civic groups, businesses, and schools.
In 1993, Jackson founded P.A.R.K. in his hometown of Little Rock. It is an after-school program for 8th-12th grade students with low grade-point averages who are at-risk of dropping out of school. P.A.R.K. offers five years of tutoring, recreation, community service, and summer programs for its participants to help boost their self-esteem, to teach them how to foster long-term relationships, and to direct their focus to attending and graduating from college.
Jackson has received numerous awards over the years, such as being named “Outstanding Young Arkansan” by the Jaycees in 1994 and receiving the National Conference for Community and Justice Humanitarian Award in 2005.
Jackson resides in Little Rock with his wife, Melanie. The couple married on February 5, 1994, and they have three children.