Tom Jackson
Tom Jackson was born on April 4, 1951 in Cleveland Ohio. He attended college at the University of Louisville and entered the NFL in 1973 after being drafted with pick 88 of round four of the NFL Draft. “TJ” became a Denver Broncos’ linebacker. Jackson possessed excellent speed and always seemed to be in the right place on the football field. He was a key contributor to the Broncos defense from 1973 until 1986 when he retired from the National Football League and the Denver Broncos.

Tom Jackson Jersey #57

Player Info

Height 5' 11"
Weight 220 lbs
DOB: 4/4/1951


NFL Draft

1973/Round 4/Pick 88

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Career Highlights

Pro Bowls 1977, 1978, 1979

Team(s) As A Player

Denver Broncos 1973-1986

Tom Jackson and the Orange Crush Defense

Jackson was a well-rounded linebacker for the Denver Broncos. He had excellent speed that allowed him to both rush the quarterback from the Broncos 3-4 defense and drop into coverage. He was able to keep up with both running backs and tight ends and provided blanket coverage. When it came to the running game, his speed allowed him to slip blocks and make plays all over the football field. TJ was the Broncos’ defensive MVP in 1974, 1976, and 1977. Jackson made three consecutive pro bowls from 1977-1979. He was first team All Pro twice in 1977 and 1978. He finished his career with 20 interceptions for 340 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 44 career sacks.

Big Play Tom Jackson

During the 1976 NFL season, Tom Jackson got the attention of the National Football League, especially quarterbacks. Not only did he pressure the other team’s signal caller on a weekly basis, he also had a career best seven interceptions returned for 136 yards and a touchdown. During a September 26 game against the Cleveland Browns, Tom Jackson intercepted Brian Sipe twice to help key a 44-13 victory for the Broncos. (1)

Tom Jackson’s Magical 1977 Season

During a November 20, 1977 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Jackson would once again shine. After rookie linebacker Raymond Burks carried a fake punt 51 yards to the Denver one-yard line with 1:29 left in the game, the middle of the Denver line stopped Kansas City running backs Ed Podolak and Mark Bailey on successive plunges. This set up Jackson's play of the game — a third down tackle of tight end Walter White for a 6-yard loss on a reverse. Confronted with a suddenly distant fourth-and-six, Kansas City quarterback Mike Livingston threw an incomplete pass in the end zone with 30 seconds remaining to preserve the Denver victory. "It was a great call by Coach Collier," said Jackson. "We had an inside charge on the first two plays and the coach called for an outside charge on the third one. It was a guessing game — we guessed they'd be going outside and we won. All I did was stay home. I was just sort of hanging out over there and he run right into me. No one blocked me ... no one was supposed to. That play is designed to trick you; they try to get the defense to flow with the ball so that the guy coming back can catch you off guard and stroll in. They fooled me earlier on about a 40-yard reverse and they weren't going to do it again." (2)


It was Sunday, November 27, 1977 against the Baltimore Colts. The Denver Broncos led the Colts 14-13 and the Colts had the football and were driving for the go ahead score. With less than four minutes to play, TJ stepped in front of a Bert Jones pass and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown, setting a club record for the longest interception return and giving the Broncos control of the game. The Broncos defeated the Colts 27-13. (3)


On Christmas Day, 1977 the Denver Broncos hosted the team of the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Broncos had just had their best season with a 12-2 record, but the Steelers were seasoned playoff veterans and the Broncos were in their first rodeo. Tom Jackson had a game for the ages. In the first quarter he recovered a fumble and returned it 30 yards. Then in the fourth quarter of the playoff game, Jackson intercepted Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw twice, returning one of them 32 yards to the 9-yard line. TJ’s turnovers led to 17 Denver points and the Broncos defeated the Steelers 34-21. After the game, Denver Head Coach Red Miller said of Jackson, "Isn't he remarkable? I think he's the best linebacker in the game." Jackson, the fifth-year pro who has been selected to play in next month's Pro Bowl, was asked about Miller's assessment. "I think I'm among the top 10," he said "If you judge line-backing on big plays, then I think I'm right there at the top." 

Tom Jackson is Honored

On March 17, 1989 Tom Jackson was elected to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame during its 25th  anniversary induction banquet. Jackson was presented his induction plaque by Joe Collier, Denver's defensive coordinator for 20 years. "Randy Gradishar was the heart of our defense for all those years, but Tom Jackson was our soul," said Collier. "If I thought I was deserving of this, then I wouldn't be deserving," said Jackson, who helped the Broncos to Super Bowls nine years apart, after the 1977 and 1986 seasons. "I wish I could cut this award up and chip it into little pieces, so I could share it with everyone who helped make it possible." (5)

Tom Jackson we elected into the Ring of Fame for the Denver Broncos in 1992.

Tom Jackson on ESPN

After his retirement following the 1986 season from the Denver Broncos, Tom Jackson joined ESPN and has been the right hand man to Chris Berman on NFL Countdown, NFL Primetime, and Monday NFL Countdown.

By A. Goodin,
March 30, 2008

Tom Jackson Biography Sources:

(1) Offense takes day off but Broncos win anyway (1976, September 27) The Greely Tribune, pg. 21
Goal Line Stand Fires Broncos Past Chiefs, 14-7 (1977, November 21) The Salina Sentinal, pg. 12
Broncos Become the Best in NFL (1977, November 28) Nevada State Journal
Big-Play Jackson Lifts Broncos (1977, December 26) Idaho State Journal, pg.16
Ex-Bronco Jackson joins Hall of Fame / Douglass, Darden, Buck also inducted at banquet in Denver (1989, March 18) Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph

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