One of the most productive linebackers in National Football League history, Rickey Jackson served as the linchpin of one of the most dominant linebacker corps the league has ever seen. Jackson will be inducted today into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Saints Owner Tom Benson will be the presenter at Jackson's Hall of Fame induction. He is the first Saint to have spent the majority of his career with New Orleans to receive this honor, the sixth overall. His induction is part of a class that also includes Redskins guard Russ Grimm, Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau, Broncos running back Floyd Little, Vikings defensive tackle John Randle, 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice and Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith.
Jackson appeared in 227 regular season games, starting 225, during 15 NFL seasons, 13, which were spent with the Saints. His 195 appearances as a Saint are the second-highest total in franchise history. He missed only two games, out of a possible 229 regular season games in his career.
The Pahokee, Fla. Native finished his career with 128 sacks (his eight sacks in his rookie season of 1981 are not included since sacks did not become an official statistic until 1982) ranked tenth all-time in NFL history. With 115 as a Saint, he is the club's all-time leader and he led the club in takedowns six times. He is also the franchise's all-time leader in fumble recoveries with 26.
As a show of respect by opposing coaches and players for his dominating pass rush abilities and sideline to sideline play, Jackson was named to the Pro Bowl six times (1983-86, 1992-93) in his career, tied for the second-most by a Saint. He was an All-Pro selection six times (1984-87, 1992-93). After failing to post a winning season in the franchise's first 18 seasons, Jackson's Saints did not have a losing season in his final seven campaigns with the club from 1987-93, qualifying for the playoffs four times during this period.
Jackson was drafted in the second round (51st) overall by the Saints in the 1981NFL Draft out of the Pittsburgh. He made an immediate impact in the Black and Gold defense, as he led the team with 125 tackles and eight sacks. In his second season, he recorded 4.5 sacks in a nine-game strike shortened campaign as the saints narrowly missed the postseason.
In 1983, Jackson earned a Pro Bowl trip for the first time as he established himself as one of the NFL's top pass rushers, leading the team with 12 sacks, while defending a career-high 21 passes. This would be the first of four consecutive seasons where he would be selected to the Pro Bowl. In 1984, he led NFC linebackers with 12 sacks, while forcing four fumbles and recovering four, as he was named an Associated Press All-Pro selection for the first time. In the next three seasons, Jackson would post successive sacks totals of 12, 11 and nine as he was named to the Pro Bowl each time. In a contest at Atlanta on December 24, 1986, he set the club record with four sacks.
1987 saw the Saints qualify for the postseason for the first time with a 12-3 record. Jackson played a pivotal role, recording 74 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. In what was then the biggest comeback in franchise history, in a 41-24 win over Cincinnati on December 20, 1987, Jackson was dominant in the fight back from a 24-3 deficit, recording three sacks and forcing two fumbles.
In 1988, the Saints enjoyed their second straight winning season as Jackson recorded 92 tackles and tied for the club lead with seven sacks, four takedowns coming in one contest to tie his career-high and club record.
In 1989, Jackson suffered a broken cheekbone in an auto accident following the season opener. Expected by doctors to miss a month to six weeks, the two games he missed were the only ones of his career as he still managed to post 7.5 sacks.
In 1990, Jackson shattered the club record with seven fumble recoveries, still tied for the third-highest total in NFL history, to go with four forced fumbles and six sacks.
In 1991, the Saints captured the NFC West for their first division title in franchise history as he turned in 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. New Orleans would go to the playoff back to back for the first time the following year and he was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 1986, as he led the Saints with 13.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.
Jackson closed out his Saints playing career in 1993, as he was voted to the Pro Bowl and logged 11.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three recoveries. He would close out his career with San Francisco from 1994-95, earning a championship ring as part of the Super Bowl XXIX winners. Jackson retired as a Saint in 1996 and his number 57 jersey was raised to the rafters of the Louisiana Superdome.