Former NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson died in a single-car crash in Alabama on Sunday night, a police spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Monday. He was 36.
Jackson was driving on a road a few miles south of Montgomery, Alabama, at around 8:50 p.m. Sunday when his 2012 Chevrolet Camaro left the road, hit a tree and flipped, according to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency trooper Michael Carswell. Jackson was transported to a local hospital and later pronounced dead.
“Nothing further is available as ALEA State Troopers continue to investigate,” Carswell said.
Born and raised in Montgomery, Jackson began his collegiate career at Arkansas before transferring to Football Championship Subdivision school Alabama State, where he became a force and caught the attention of NFL scouts.
Projected as a mid- to late-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder was instead selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round, at No. 64 overall. He earned the starting job there a little more than a year later.
All told, Jackson played parts of nine seasons in the NFL with the Vikings and Seattle Seahawks. (He also spent the 2012 season with the Buffalo Bills, but did not play.) He started 34 games and threw for more than 7,200 yards with 39 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.
The Vikings said in a statement Monday that Jackson was “taken from us too soon.”
“One of Tarvaris’ greatest attributes was his positive outlook and approach,” the team said. “He genuinely cared about others, was a good friend and will be missed by family, teammates and Vikings fans everywhere. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”
Jackson started 14 games for the Seahawks in 2011, replacing Matt Hasslebeck in what was coach Pete Carroll’s second season as head coach. He was traded to Buffalo the following year, then released and promptly picked back up by Seattle. He won a Super Bowl ring as Russell Wilson’s backup in 2014.
“TJack… you will be missed. Praying for your family…Love you man,” Wilson wrote on Twitter on Monday morning.
Jackson brought a valuable presence to the quarterback room, even when he wasn’t playing. Former Seahawks quarterback B.J. Daniels wrote on Twitter on Monday that when his family was unable to travel to Seattle for the holidays one year, it was Jackson who invited Daniels to his house, to celebrate with his family.
“I will ALWAYS respect and admire the way the QB room accepted me and supported me. Especially Tarvaris Jackson who didn’t have a single bone in his body of jealousy or animosity,” Daniels wrote.
Jackson became a free agent after the 2015 season, during which he attempted just six passes. He was arrested in Florida in 2016 for allegedly pulling a gun on his wife. Though he denied the allegations and the charges were later dropped, he told The St. Paul Pioneer Press that he believes the incident led to the premature end of his NFL career.
In the years since, Jackson decided to remain involved in football but switch to coaching. He spent the 2018 season as a quality control assistant at his alma mater before joining Tennessee State as its quarterbacks coach in 2019.
“I am definitely comfortable with the NFL career I had, but, of course, there are things you wish you could have back to do again that you would do differently,” Jackson told The Tennessean last summer. “A lot of the things I wish that I could have back, I try to teach these guys so that they won’t go through the same thing.”
Tennessee State coach Rod Reed said the program was “devastated” by the news of Jackson’s death.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Jackson family in this time of bereavement,” Reed said in a statement. “He was an awesome young man and he will be missed by our players, our staff and the TSU family.”
Jackson is survived by his wife, Lakitta, and three children.
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