Football Gave Marlin Jackson A Choice And A Voice

It was a full house at the Colts complex on Wednesday morning as Marlin Jackson was introduced as the guest speaker for the Blue Breakfast to benefit Coburn Place.

As the former Colts cornerback took the stage, a video played in the background. He was on the field at the RCA Dome, laid out on his back, one arm in the air, the other cradling the football he had just intercepted off of Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game.

It was “The Catch” that sent the Colts on to Super Bowl victory and changed the course of team history.

For Jackson, it was a moment he had been preparing for his entire life.

“You have to get ready, you have to prepare, you have to study your tape, you have to do your research, you have to get amped up,” he said. “This is game day for Coburn Place. I call myself a free agent. I was picked up today off of waivers. They brought me in to bring a little bit of value to the team, a little bit of value because of what I experienced growing up.”

He refers to it as generational dysfunction brought on by buried pain.

“When people try to lock that inside of them, battered women, battered men, they lose a piece of themselves. And when they’re parents, it shows up in no parental guidance. When we talk about the root causes of crime and the things that happen in the street, it starts at home.”

For Jackson and his siblings, home was not a safe haven. It wasn’t someplace they could go to shut out the dangers of the world. Rather, it was a place where their mother invited them in.

“She never dealt with the trauma of growing up not being emotionally tended to. And instead of turning to the right people and places and things, she turned to drugs, alcohol, abusive men.”

A downward spiral that repeated itself in his siblings, Jackson found a way out.

“Football taught me processes. Through God’s grace on my life, he had already laid out the tools that I needed,” he said. “In sports, key people at the right time, those people were my Coburn Place – stepping in, being taken in by family members when I was 12.”

He moved again at 15. And at 17, he moved in with his football coach.

“It meant new friends. It meant new sleepovers. And with those sleepovers, my friends that had two parents – I saw two adults in one household in a peaceful, productive manner.”

His reaction?

“Oh, that’s what it looks like.”

Eventually, normal became his new normal.

“Being exposed to different ways of thinking, different ways of being, different people changed my perspective and my view of life. And in that happening, I chose to take a different route, a different path than those around me. And now through my organization, Fight for Life Foundation, we do the same thing. We help underserved youth fight for a better life through social emotional learning.”

And that’s what the Blue Breakfast is all about.

“Every mother, every child deserves to develop a voice. They just need help realizing that they have a choice.”