Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Many Positions of Rich "Tombstone" Jackson

By John Turney
The late Paul Zimmerman was a big fan of Rich Jackson—he even advocated for Jackson's election to the Hall of Fame. However, interestingly, he never wrote about Jackson's penchant for being moved around in the Bronco front seven.

With the Raiders Jackson played linebacker but he arrived in Denver in 1967 and he was put at right defensive end. In 1968 he was moved to left defensive end as his usual position.

However, with four talented linemen, the Broncos would move their linemen around like chess pieces, putting Jackson at all four defensive line positions and at least two linebacker positions.
Jackson, in 1967 at right defensive end

At LDE, his usual position

At left defensive tackle

LDE, usual spot

Right defensive end, but goalline

at LDE, usual spot, but Alzado at RDT (usual RDE)

1967, at right end, his usual spot that season

In 1967, at right end

At left end, giving a strong head slap

1968 Jackson at linebacker just to the right and behind the nose tackle
1968 Jackson standing up over the left guard

1968 Jackson as a linebacker

Rich Jackson at LDT

Rich Jackson at RDT

Rich Jackson at Linebacker
Jackson dogging from LB spot
Jackson breaking free

Jackson, again at linebacker

Jackson at linebacker again
Jackson stepping back into coverage
Film study shows that Jackson moved around fairly often in 1968 playing most, if not all, line positions and most of the linebacker spots as well but not as much in 1969. However, from 1970-72 (until traded) he moved all along the line but if he played linebacker we didn't see it.

Still, we'd say he played his usual left defensive end 80% or so of the time with the rest at the right end or tackle with some snaps, as you see, as a linebacker who usually rushed, but did drop into coverage. he really was a  remarkable player.


  1. Jackson is a great example of an excellent player who succumbed to injuries. As fans, we wonder if there are more defensive players who were so good, they would have made the HOF without the injuries, or in Mike Reid's case with the Bengals, early retirement. Ken Easley might be the Gale Sayers standard for defensive players. Patrick Willis is the latest example, and maybe even Navarro Bowman his teammate; excellent players who retired too soon due to injuries, though many people feel Willis will be in the Hall.

    George Webster of the Oilers fits this group, though he hung on with the Steelers in later years, then there are players like Gene Brito of the Redskins, who was great on defence before being traded to the Rams. Jim Hudson of the Jets, John Offerdahl of the Dolphins, who might have been more talented than Zack Thomas. Andy Harmon for the Eagles, and the safeties for the 49ers, Carlton Williamson and Jeff Fuller, whose careers were shorted. I wonder who stood out out with PSI on defence, despite short careers ? Greg Lloyd might fit this group.

    1. Big Daddy Lipscomb died at 31.....imagine another 6-7 years to build that resume