September 11th, 2016 | Jessica Baeza
I am going to start this off by saying that I am a die-hard New York Giants fan, so this interview was definitely an honor and one for the books. I may even be a little creepy, print it out, and hang it on my fridge like I’m a toddler who drew a flower in school. No, but really, this was one of my favorite interviews. If you have not heard of Bennett Jackson, then please continue to read as he will be taking over your televisions come September 11th when they beat (sorry, Mom), I mean “take on” The Dallas Cowboys. At the age of only 24, Bennett is really becoming quite the success story. He is nothing short of motivated in his sport. Check out our interview below:
JT: Where are you originally from? Tell me about your family life, your hometown, best friends growing up, childhood hobbies/heroes, etc.
BJ: I am originally from Hazlet, NJ. I grew up with my mother, sister, and grandmother, with my dad and all his family in the town next to us, Matawan. I had a ton of friends, especially since I was able to meet so many people through sports. I played soccer, football, basketball, and baseball growing up, and then picked up track in high school and played basketball and football. My only hero is my mother because I don’t know where I would be without her doing everything for me.
JT: At what age did you begin playing football? Was this something you were always passionate about? As a child, did you dream about going to the NFL one day?
BJ: I began playing football around age 6. My father pushed the situation and motivated me a lot during my younger years. I was always passionate about football because it gave me a different feeling of excitement no other sport gave me. Growing up, I always tried to imagine playing in the NFL and really pushed myself to get there. The day I was drafted into the NFL to the New York Giants was an unreal feeling and really a dream come true.
JT: Did you endure any struggles to get to where you are today? How did you overcome them?
BJ: I went through many struggles that I had to overcome throughout my career. I’ve had several surgeries, a left knee microfracture, right knee ACL reconstruction, and a right shoulder labrum repair. All these surgeries cause a massive amount of time and patience with physical therapists and trainers. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to bounce back every time without the amazing relationships I had and support system around me.
JT: How did you like playing for Notre Dame? Was it difficult for you to juggle both football and school?
BJ: Playing football at Notre Dame was one of the best experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to make lifelong relationships with phenomenal people. Juggling school and football was definitely a challenge, but the support system at Notre Dame does a great job at keeping the athletes on track.
JT: What did you learn while playing under Brian Kelly?
BJ: I learned to play defense at a high level, something that was new for me coming in as a wide receiver and switching to defensive back. I also learned how to manage my time and be sufficient with everything I do. Coach Kelly and Coach Diaco helped me become a better man on and off the football field.
JT: How was the transition from playing college ball to the NFL?
BJ: Transitioning from the NCAA to the NFL definitely is a change, but it’s something I felt I prepared for my whole life. The guys are a little stronger, a little faster, and a little smarter. Every day in the NFL is a challenge and definitely brings out the competitor in you.
JT: Did having a defensive coordinator with NFL coaching experience at Notre Dame help you to adjust to the NFL?
BJ: I believe having a coach with so much experience in football alone helped me adjust to the NFL. College is a little different than the NFL. You’re working with grown men who play football to support their families.
JT: How does it feel to be playing for the New York Giants?
BJ: If feels absolutely amazing to be able to call myself a New York Giant. It’s one of the biggest achievements in my life.
JT: How do you think the team will do this year?
BJ: I think we will have a very good season. OTAs are going well and we are moving at a good tempo. I’m excited to see how we perform and play together as a team.
JT: What position do you play now?
BJ: I play safety and a little nickel back, which is third corner a lot.
JT: Do you have a special routine that you follow before every game?
BJ: I always go out before every game by myself and warm up, feel the field, and look around. Even though sometimes you’re playing in the same stadium again, there is always a different feeling every game. Going out and soaking it all in helps me relax and focus.
JT: Do any past athletes motivate you during your games?
BJ: I don’t have a specific athlete that motivates me, but I like to watch highlights of the best plays made in the NFL or short highlights on certain players just to get my mind right. I visualize making these plays so that I can see myself making them in the game.
JT: If you could give a young kid just starting out any advice, what would it be?
BJ: To the young and upcoming players, the best advice I could give is be who you are. Push your limits and know in your mind anything in life is possible if you work for it.