Keith Jackson was born April 19, 1965 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He began playing football at the age of 9 with the Sunset Tigers in his hometown. His love of the game continued throughout junior high school on into high school at Little Rock Parkview, where he was Parade All-American and three-sport letterman. While in high school, Keith played the cello in the orchestra.
Upon graduating from Parkview, Keith attended the University of Oklahoma (1984-1987) on a football scholarship as a tight end. During his college career, he assisted the Sooners to a 42-5-1 record and a national championship in 1985. He recorded a total of 62 receptions for 1,407 yards, an average of 23.7 yards per catch and was selected three times to the All Big Eight team and named two-time Athletic All-American. Keith graduated with academic honors and a BA in Communications in 3 ½ years.
In 1988, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Keith as the thirteenth pick of the first round in the National Football League draft. Keith made an immediate impact on the Eagles’ team and the NFL during his rookie season. Keith recorded 81 receptions for 869 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first season, along with seven catches for 142 yards in the Eagles only playoff game that year, and was the NFC offensive rookie of the year and the only first-year player to be selected by the NFL for the Pro Bowl. In his nine seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Dolphins, and Green Bay, Keith was selected to the Pro Bowl 6 times (1988-1990, 1992, 1994 - selected but did not attend, 1996) and 3-time All-Pro. In his final season, Keith recorded 40 receptions for 505 yards and career high 10 touchdowns, assisting the Packers to a 16-3 record and a win in Super Bowl XXXI.
Keith finished his career with 441 receptions for 5,283 yards and 49 touchdowns. Keith Jackson has also combined his college degree in communications and his professional playing experience to become a broadcast analyst with TNT television for one year, the Oklahoma Sooner football radio network in 1998, Fox Sports Network in 1999 and the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network from 2000 - 2017. He has become one of the most dynamic and inspirational speakers in the country. His speaking engagements include churches, civic groups, corporations and schools.
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Keith Jackson - pro-football-reference.com
Parkview Arts Science Magnet. High School
College Athletics Recruiting - Wikipedia
CTE in Former College Football Players
1986 Orange Bowl - OK Sooners and the Penn State Nittany Lions
FOOTBALL; Four N.F.L. Players Get Five Days of Freedom - NYTimes Archives
Superbowl 1996 - Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids (P.A.R.K.)
Concussions in Youth - Cordisco and Saile
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[0:00:11.5] G: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider’s view into the commonalities of successful people and the ups and downs of risk-taking. Connect with Kerry through her candid, funny informative and always encouraging weekly blog.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:34.7] KM: I’m excited to talk about the business of football with my guest today, Mr. Keith Jackson. From 1988 through 1996, Mr. Jackson played professional football as the tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers. Mr. Keith Jackson finished his career with 441 receptions for 5,283 yards and 49 touchdowns. Divide his receptions by his eight-year career and you get over 50 regular season. That seems a lot to me, although I'm not sure.
[0:01:11.8] KJ: Well, they’re catching more than a 100 now.
[0:01:14.6] KM: Is that right?
[0:01:15.4] KJ: Well some guys.
[0:01:17.3] KM: Many of you may remember Mr. Jackson as the color commentary for Arkansas Razorback Football. Did you recognize that voice? Though Keith is known for by many as an award-winning football player, he is known by the kids in southwest Little Rock, Arkansas as a savior. In 1992, Keith paid his good fortune, faith and experience forward by founding PARK, an acronym for Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, a non-profit organization and an outreach program for inner-city youths in Little Rock, Arkansas.
It is a pleasure to welcome to the table the talented, faith-filled and generous, retired professional NFL athlete, Mr. Keith Jackson.
[0:01:57.3] KJ: That's a long list of words to explain who I am, but I sure do appreciate it though.
[0:02:02.5] KM: You are a lot.
[0:02:03.7] KJ: I mean, can you read that again? The long faith-filled. That was pretty good.
[0:02:07.9] KM: Talented, faith-filled and generous retired professional NFL athlete, Mr. Keith Jackson.
[0:02:14.9] KJ: See, I like that. I like that. I like that. That's great. We would have an audience, but and maybe they probably will be clapping right now. Social distances caused us not to have an audience tonight.
[0:02:25.2] KM: That’s right. We have bumped elbows today, but no high-fiving.
[0:02:28.8] KJ: No high-fiving.
[0:02:30.8] KM: Many people listening to the show want to talk about the business of football today, versus the business of football when you played, like head injuries and salaries and social issues. Before we do any of that, let's talk about your college football career. It was spectacular. Many young men dream of a career such as yours. Did you always know you wanted to play football professionally?
[0:02:54.3] KJ: Well, I did. As a little kid, you walk around your neighborhood and try to stay out of trouble and you dream about the day of doing something big. Some people may want to run a business and some people may want to become a artist, or a singer. I actually want to be a football player. I would walk around with an old football, throwing it up in the air, imagining myself catching that big pass on that bad day that you need the last second of the game, quarterback throws you the ball, you've got to come up with a big play and the crowd goes wild. I mean, yeah, you can go back to probably about six-years-old me trying to do that and just working from that point on trying to get to the NFL.
[0:03:32.0] KM: You're so lucky that you had a passion at an early age. For someone who has a passion for football, you went to high school not really a football school. Parkview is an arts and science school.
[0:03:42.0] KJ: Yeah. Back in those days, I tell people I go to Parkview, I was a cello playing football player.
[0:03:47.9] KM: That’s right.
[0:03:48.6] KJ: You know, that's right. I played the cello. To be at Parkview and my mother was big on academics and she was big on music, and so all her kids played instruments. My sister played the piano, my brother played the violin and I played the cello. She felt there was a study that came out that said that kids who play instruments learn faster. She was making sure that we learned as fast as we could. All the football stuff, I had to figure out on my own and she didn't know much about football.
[0:04:15.1] KM: She didn't care about that.
[0:04:15.9] KJ: Well, she did. She act like she didn't care, along with my grandmother. They were both the same. Once I got older and started talking to their friends, their friends will say, “Your mother and grandmother used to call us down. “You got to watch the game. The game's coming on. You got to watch Keith.”” They faked it around us, try to act – make me believe that they weren’t watching the game, but they were really watching.
[0:04:33.3] KM: Was your mother a school teacher?
[0:04:34.6] KJ: My mother's a nurse. She worked at Baptist Health for 29 years.
[0:04:38.3] KM: Education was important to her.
[0:04:39.5] KJ: Yeah, yeah. She worked their way up to become a nurse, single-parent mom who was out there and she realized education was important to get her where she was, where she could take us out of the inner city where we grew up and into a nice little –
[0:04:51.8] KM: She grew up in Southwest Little Rock?
[0:04:53.0] KJ: No, I grew up in [inaudible 0:04:55.1] Chester and in High Street. That's a little south.
[0:04:58.0] KM: Oh, Downtown Little Rock.
[0:04:59.2] KJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s the area I grew up in.
[0:05:01.6] KM: You had an unbelievable college career, but not for the Arkansas Razorbacks, which I think people that don't know you'd be surprised to know that. Instead, you were a Sooner and you played for the University of Oklahoma. Why not the Razorbacks?
[0:05:16.2] KJ: I get that question. I still get that question. You know along those who’d been, it’s been about 30, 35.
[0:05:21.1] KM: 87, I think. 1985 to 87 or something.
[0:05:24.8] KJ: A long time ago and I still get the question. It's really interesting, because as a 19-year-old kid, I was turning 19. You have all these choices in front of you, these different school, people telling you the different things pulling on you. Recruiting is tough. It's not only tough on you, but it's tough on your family, because you have everybody walking in the door and promising you the world and you got to filter through that information.
When I filtered through all the information, I thought that they – of course, I mean, the Razorbacks were one of the teams I grew up watching, but here's Lou Holtz, he's leaving out the door and Hatfield is coming in. That they haven't established that this is the first year that happening. The consistency of Barry Switzer over and his ability to recruit was one of them. The idea that they had just signed this quarterback out of Henry at Oklahoma and had Matt Brown who became the Texas coach and now that North Carolina's office coordinator and as well as you got to see people Marcus Dupree, who was that running back. Made some great stories of guys you thought you could play with, especially Tilman.
Having Trachtman was a big deal to me. I mean, when you're a receiver, you want a quarterback that can get you the ball. Having the number one quarterback in the nation and Trape and at Oklahoma, going to Oklahoma, it was big on my decision-making.
[0:06:40.2] KM: Did your parents help you with that decision, or were you just out there with a piece of paper writing it down and going by your emotions? Or was your mother going, “No, no. Go do this.”
[0:06:47.1] KJ: Barry Switzer calls my mother the toughest woman he's ever met, because she had to endure the hardship of me going to Oklahoma. Now at a time of course, I told you I'm 18 turning 19, I really don't understand the magnitude of being one of the top players in the country ranked. I don't understand the magnitude of being a parade All-American and how small Arkansas is when it comes to having that talent. I just think the number of player that want to go play at the place I want to play.
She full well understanding the whole view and she stood up for me and fought for me to go to Oklahoma and in spite of the fact she could have lost her job, or just some other things bad would have happened to her.
[0:07:24.5] KM: Lost her job, because her son didn't play for the Razorbacks?
[0:07:26.6] KJ: A lot of threatenings. A lot of threatenings. Let me tell you something, I know the whole staff, the upper staff. As a matter of fact, I serve as a board member of Baptist Health. There is no way Baptist Health would do anything like that. They are very good Christian people –
[0:07:40.0] KM: Way to cover. Way to cover.
[0:07:42.0] KJ: - at Baptist Health. It was his thought process of the outside of people scaring and then the fact that you got rats in your mailbox. We got our house toilet paper. Oh, yeah. It was a bad ordeal and she just endured it all and supported me 100%.
[0:07:56.2] KM: How can you be such a draft by all these colleges wanting you when you played for Parkview? Who even looks at Parkview for football?
[0:08:02.6] KJ: Parkview is pretty good back in those days. Now when we're thinking about modern-day, Parkview has actually changed a little bit. Back in the late 70s and the early 80s, Parkview was a powerhouse. I mean, people like – you think of George Stewart who was a great offensive lineman and Daryl Mason. I mean, they sent several players to the University of Arkansas. In those days, Central High School would send a group of players up and Hall High would send a couple and Parkview would send several. That was the core and the nucleus of what would build the Razorback football team. Then they'd bring these guys in from Texas and other places to join them. Parkview was sending just as many kids up to play at the University of Arkansas at that time as any other school. They were pretty good in the late 70s and early 80s.
[0:08:43.9] KM: There's not a lot of kids being recruited today, because not a lot of kids want to play football anymore after all the bad press.
[0:08:50.0] KJ: I don't think so. I don't think so. I think that the NFL is taking their lumps. When you look at concussions, concussion and that's what we're talking about, mainly concussions, parents are saying, “Hey, I don't want my kids to play football because of concussions.” NFL realize that. They're taking their – there are less amount of people who are playing the sport.
What they're doing on the other side, they're building better helmets and they're putting in better rules to try to protect the players, so they're not going to have this physical side of the game that later on they would be having concussion issues. Now will concussion still happen? Yeah, because it's a tough game. They're limiting that. They're creating those rules to limit that.
The question I always ask people is this, if you have and I know what an energetic young man I was and I have the hours between after school and 8:00 to do whatever I want to. Is that going to cost more problems than the concussions down the line?
[0:09:47.5] KM: Absolutely. I’ve never thought of that.
[0:09:49.9] KJ: No question at all.
[0:09:50.6] KM: You are right on.
[0:09:51.6] KJ: You're going to have more deaths. You're going to have four more incidents.
[0:09:55.6] KM: Incidents.
[0:09:56.4] KJ: I would say incidents, than you would if you keep them on the field. I think people think – we make knee-jerk reaction to everything. I have three kids and they all play college football. I've got a grandson that's just this beautiful thing, he will play football. The rules are becoming that they're to protect them. If he wants to play football, he will play football, because I know what kids can do by running a program when they're not doing those latchkey hours.
[0:10:23.7] KM: You did it. We are going to talk about your program, PARK, and what you do for after-school kids. Boy, if anybody can speak to that, you just spoke to it. Let's talk about – let's go back and talk about, before we jump into all of that, let's talk about you winning the national championship for Oklahoma. You caught the winning, or a winning – for two touchdowns, but yours the winning touchdown?
[0:10:43.2] KJ: That was a big touchdown. That was a big touchdown. We kicked field goals. Other than that, two touchdown. It was a very important part of the game. People say, what is one of the most important place that you've ever made? It was a 73-yard touchdown against Penn State. The game was on the line. They would score, we played defense, we score, they played defense. It was a really close game, up into the point of this big play that takes over the game.
I remember the commentator at the time said, “Homerun ball. The tight end, Keith Jackson. He's out and open to catch the ball,” and then the rest is a touchdown. 73 yards later, I scored this big touchdown. Our defense shut them down. We kicked several field goals and then my old roommate, Lydell Cart goes for a touchdown too. We ended up winning the game 25 to actually to 10, I think the score was. First national championship in a long time for Barry Switzer added to him. The reason why I want to Oklahoma was to be able to compete and to play for a national championship and to be able to win one.
[0:11:40.9] KM: Well, you lived your dream.
[0:11:41.7] KJ: I did. I did. Actually, we played for the national championship three times. We just won one. We had a chance to win three of them.
[0:11:48.5] KM: How'd you get the name Boomer Sooner?
[0:11:50.6] KJ: It's really interesting is is that I've seen that ridden places. The Sooner crew have been yelling Boomer Sooner for quite some time. I think that there's just some times that I've scored some touchdown and they start yelling. Then it became synonymous with my name. Whether it's Sooner Magic, or Boomer Sooner, I just love the fact that being a part of OU football and having a great career over there.
[0:12:14.4] KM: It’s all about team play, ain’t it?
[0:12:16.2] KJ: It is. It is.
[0:12:17.3] KM: For everybody that's just listening, you played for University of Oklahoma and they are Sooners, because people are like, “What does Sooner mean? Boomer Sooner. They are Sooners.”
[0:12:27.9] KJ: Right. They are Sooners.
[0:12:28.9] KM: You all won the 19 – was it ’85 or ’86 that you won?
[0:12:31.2] KJ: ’85.
[0:12:31.7] KM: Then you played in the Orange Bowl.
[0:12:33.3] KJ: Right. It was the championship.
[0:12:34.0] KM: Against Penn State.
[0:12:35.1] KJ: Yeah. ’85 was the season. We played the game in ’86 for the national championship and beat Penn State and won it. Boy that was just – it was just an exciting time. Every kid grows up and they want to win championships. I mean, that's just what – no sense in playing the game, unless you're going to want some championships. I've been able to play at every level and play for the championship at every level.
The one that got away was high school. Still want to go back to Parkview. We lost to South Side in the championship game. Didn't have our quarterback. Yes, I'm making excuses after so many years. If our quarterback would have played, he wouldn't have been hurt. I'm not going to say his name on the radio and get in trouble.
[0:13:12.3] KM: That would make a difference though.
[0:13:12.7] KJ: We would’ve won that game by 30 points. They wouldn't even be close.
[0:13:15.2] KM: I mean, look at the basketball guy that's been playing for the – that came back and that hurt his ankle. Was it Jones or Joe? Joe.
[0:13:21.2] KJ: Yeah. Joe.
[0:13:22.2] KM: Yeah. I mean, he comes back in and makes a difference.
[0:13:24.2] KJ: Makes a huge difference.
[0:13:25.4] KM: You can't help it. All right, this is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Boomer Sooner, Mr. Keith Jackson, retired NFL tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers. We’ll follow along in Mr. Jackson's illustrious life story as a professional football player. At the end of the show, we'll talk about his current accomplishments at PARK, his non-profit that helps inner-city and at-risk children of Little Rock, Arkansas. Stay tuned. Much more to come.
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[0:14:42.8] KM: You're listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with the NFL retired tight end, Mr. Keith Jackson, and Founder of the non-profit PARK in Southwest Little Rock, Arkansas.
Before the break we talked about Keith's career at University of Oklahoma, championships, competing. It's a good life, a boy's dream. He's lucky that he always knew he wanted to play football he got to live that dream. It's a great story. Tell us about the day you got drafted by the Philadelphia Eagle. First of all, did you only go to three years of college?
[0:15:12.8] KJ: I graduated in three and a half years.
[0:15:15.4] KM: I thought those years –
[0:15:16.5] KJ: Yeah, I just graduated. I graduated early. I had a philosophy that I didn't like school that much. I said, graduate early.
[0:15:24.5] KM: How can you do that and have all that stuff that you're doing?
[0:15:27.9] KJ: It's really interesting now.
[0:15:28.8] KM: Are you really smart?
[0:15:30.0] KJ: Well, I wouldn't say that.
[0:15:31.4] KM: What’s your degree in?
[0:15:32.2] KJ: I've worked hard. Communications. Actually in communications.
[0:15:34.3] KM: No wonder you’re so good on the radio.
[0:15:35.5] KJ: I worked harder than everybody else. I mean, my whole thing is I'm going to work hard and I'm going to get finished and I was very competitive. My mother's a key to my life. I mean, there's no question. The mere fact that she told me I couldn't play football, unless I made good grades, it made me realize how smart I was. At first, I was just acting around making decent grades. She goes, “No more football, unless I see good grades.” Then that just changed everything for me.
Then I started getting having good grades, get pat on the back for good grades, positive affirmations. Then I started saying, “Okay, they’re patting me on the back for being a good football player, Now they're patting me on the back for being a good student.” I want to be an All-American academically and I want to be an All-American athletically and I achieved that at Oklahoma also too. I graduated three and a half years and being All-American was something I was shooting for and wanted to be one of those individuals that could be able to say I was a total, whole kid at the University of Oklahoma.
[0:16:33.2] KM: I think it was in 2012. I'm not sure. They awarded you the player – the University of Oklahoma awarded you the player of the century.
[0:16:42.2] KJ: Yeah. I got to tell you –
[0:16:43.0] KM: The century.
[0:16:44.1] KJ: Kerry, I got to tell you a funny story. I called Barry Switzer up, because I don't hear about it till a month later. I called the coach Switzer and I said, “Coach, I heard I won the offensive player of the century.” He said, “Yeah. Who did you pay off to get that done? I had Joe Washington and I had – he went through Billy Sims and I had Greg Bird and I had JC.” He went through all these players that he thought was a little bit better than I was. I said, “I love you too coach and he just started laughing.” There was a lot of great talent. When you look at Oklahoma –
[0:17:15.6] KM: It may have been the whole package. You made good grades along with –
[0:17:18.5] KJ: That’s true. That’s true.
[0:17:19.7] KM: It may not have just been the scores, or the statistics. It may have been the whole package.
[0:17:24.1] KJ: Well, it does pay off if you really participate wholly in athletics.
[0:17:30.1] KM: All right, let's talk about the day you got drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, right?
[0:17:34.1] KJ: Yes.
[0:17:34.6] KM: What number?
[0:17:36.2] KJ: 13.
[0:17:36.8] KM: That’s pretty damn good.
[0:17:37.4] KJ: First round, 13th pick.
[0:17:38.6] KM: That’s pretty darn good.
[0:17:39.4] KJ: Yeah, it was pretty good. You know what’s really interesting, the money's changed since then.
[0:17:43.0] KM: We’re going to talk about that. What about that money?
[0:17:44.6] KJ: Okay. It was exciting. It was exciting time. I tell you one thing about it, when I got drafted, I heard somebody say, “We rich.” I was like, “Are we French, with the we side of that thing?” I don’t know. It was exciting. It's just something that you always want to do as a kid. Playing at Oklahoma and making plays in the big games against Texas and against Nebraska and against Miami, I knew I was as good as any other kids out there, so I knew I'd get drafted.
I didn't know exactly when and where I was going to get drafted. Getting drafted by Philadelphia in the first round, 13th pick, that was the highest ever a tight end had been at that time. It was exciting. It really was exciting.
[0:18:23.0] KM: Were they a good team at that time?
[0:18:24.1] KJ: Philadelphia had a great defense and they were really – one of the upper level teams still needed to take one more step to get to the Super Bowl, or get to the playoffs, but they were getting there very fast. Had some great players.
[0:18:35.8] KM: What was the most glaring difference between playing college ball and playing pro ball?
[0:18:39.9] KJ: Everybody's good in pro football. I mean, just everybody. I mean, there's nobody who doesn't have talent. When you're out there, you’re playing against some of the best in the world at all times. In order to make plays, you've got to be pretty good to make those plays. In college, you'll have a guy who's not as good. He's a position guy. He's out there to try to help his team win, but they're putting him in the right position to do that. In the NFL they expose that. You got to be good at every position, or they will come after you. It was so surprising how fast the linebackers were, how big and fast the defensive linemen were. I mean, every position was just physical, fast, I mean, just athletic.
[0:19:22.9] KM: You're 6”3’.
[0:19:24.1] KJ: Yeah.
[0:19:24.5] KM: Would you be big enough now?
[0:19:25.8] KJ: Yeah, still. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’d still be the same. Tight ends hadn’t changed much in size. They do have bigger blocking tight ends, but really the tight ends that are really taking the world by storm, you take Hunter Henry who's from here who was great – Hunter’s 6”3’, 6”4’, about 245, 250. He's not going to let himself getting big.
[0:19:43.8] KM: That’s huge.
[0:19:44.9] KJ: Right. He’s not going to let himself get big, because he wants to be able to run against those little small defensive in the backs that are chasing them and have a chance to catch passes against him. You have some guys like Gronkowski who’s 265 and can run. Most tight ends are around 250.
[0:20:03.2] KM: You were at the Eagles from ’88 to ’91. Why did you leave? Or did you get traded or what?
[0:20:06.7] KJ: No. Off of a free agency. That was a great deal. One of my friends came to me and say, “Every time they talk about free [inaudible 0:20:11.0] for you.”
[0:20:11.2] KM: You fought for free agency?
[0:20:12.2] KJ: Yeah, I did.
[0:20:13.0] KM: Oh, you did.
[0:20:13.6] KJ: I was one of the – a matter of fact, the case was called the Jackson 5, believe it or not.
[0:20:17.7] KM: Really?
[0:20:18.9] KJ: It was me and four other guys and we fought for free. We were four-year guys and there was a debate going on with the NFL and NFL Players Association about five-year guys getting – five-year players getting a free agency. We were caught in the middle. I mean, I just said, “Oh, I'll be willing to use my name to fight for this.” I thought it was unfair that our owner could tell me, “This is all you're going to get. I don't care how well you play and what a good player. I can't test the market to see how much money I can make. That's it and you either play or don't play.” I mean, I just didn't think that was fair. I was a good enough player at the time that I could actually say, “Okay. Well, we're going to see how this work.” I was willing take the chance.
[0:21:01.0] KM: What did happen?
[0:21:01.5] KJ: Well, happened is the judge gave us five days, or something like that to find a team, or a week to find a team and the Miami Dolphins called.
[0:21:11.2] KM: Why would you want to leave the Eagles?
[0:21:12.6] KJ: Well, I didn’t want to leave.
[0:21:14.1] KM: For increase in pay?
[0:21:14.5] KJ: Yeah. I didn't want to leave the Eagles, but I didn't think it was fair for someone to put me in a box. Literally, I mean, I'm here I am. I'm an all-pro. Almost every year, I'm there. Then I hold out and I didn't make it that year, but I'm there. The owner tells me, “You're a tight end, so you fit in this category and this is all the money you got.” All the books that were being written and talked about, I was the big play player, even though I was at a position that didn't make a lot of money.
[0:21:40.5] KM: Oh, I see.
[0:21:41.5] KJ: I'm going, “Well, this is not fair. It's not fair for me. It's not fair for – I just felt like sometimes, you've got to be the one who shoulders some of the some of the weight. If it’s not me, who? If not now, when?
[0:21:53.8] KM: You’re later. You’re later. There’s no –
[0:21:54.9] KJ: Yeah. I was going to take that chance.
[0:21:57.1] KM: You left, you went to Miami Dolphins, right?
[0:21:58.6] KJ: Yes. Had a great career at the Miami Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins call, I go down there, I get a chance to play with the great Dan Marino. A great story about faith is this, is that I was sitting there and I was watching TV with my agent in Malibu. Miami is playing against Seattle. I'm there in Seattle and Dan Marino gets knocked out, first concussion, and he goes to the sideline. They don't take his helmet. He comes back in the game, he throws a touchdown and he doesn't know he threw the touchdown. I looked at my agent and I said, “I want to play with Dan Marino.” The next day they call.
[0:22:28.7] KM: Oh. I’m so with you. If we could high-five, we’d high-five right now.
[0:22:31.9] KJ: I know. The next day they called. Not only that, I told my agent how much money I thought I was worth a year, the next day they offered that amount, without us talking to him. That's some faith believe in God stuff right there. It worked and it was –
[0:22:45.2] KM: Power of prayer.
[0:22:45.9] KJ: It is. It was exciting to be able to see that at work on any way.
[0:22:52.9] KM: You were there two years, ’92 to ’94.
[0:22:55.6] KJ: Three years. Three years. ’92, ’93 and ’94. Yeah.
[0:22:57.6] KM: Oh, three years. You’re right. Was there something that happened that made you decide to go to the Green Bay Packers?
[0:23:02.9] KJ: I love Don Shula. His wife, Mary Ann, is from here at Arkansas and I love them both. Coach Shula said, every player who plays on his team can't go home. He said, “You've got to work out.” At that time, players used to go home and come back during the offseason. The Dallas Cowboys were having very much success and wants some Super Bowl, because they never let their players go home. They made them stay there all year round and work out.
[0:23:25.8] KM: Was that Emmitt’s time?
[0:23:26.3] KJ: That’s Emmitt and that group. Yeah, it sure was. Coach Johnson. He was the coach at the time.
[0:23:31.3] KM: Wish you’d have played for them. I need to watch –
[0:23:34.1] KJ: You watch a lot more. You know what, when you get drafted by the Eagle, you learn how to not like the Cowboys pretty quickly. I love Jerry Jones. I always tell Jerry, did a hug and I love him. I love Steven. I love Jerry, Jr., I love Shirley. I love the family.
[0:23:47.4] KM: Done a great job. They’ve done a great job.
[0:23:48.9] KJ: Right there across the bridge in North Little Rock they’re from. I do love them. I just can't find myself cheering for the Cowboys, because I'm an Eagle. It’s tough.
[0:23:57.0] KM: Even today. Who do you root for when you watch football? If you paid for three teams, who do you root for?
[0:24:01.5] KJ: I root for the teams I played for.
[0:24:03.0] KM: Always.
[0:24:03.6] KJ: If they’re playing against the other, I root for the team that wins.
[0:24:07.8] KM: When Razorbacks are playing Oklahoma, who do you root for?
[0:24:10.6] KJ: Oh, that's a question I bet an answer. My son still plays for the team.
[0:24:13.8] KM: Oh, that's right.
[0:24:14.6] KJ: Yeah. Yeah. I've been and answer that phone. The one thing –
[0:24:18.2] KM: That means it’s Oklahoma.
[0:24:19.2] KJ: Well, the coach that coached up there – coaching up there now coached at Oklahoma too. When I first met Sam Pittman, he was an offensive line coach at Oklahoma. He's been there too. I tell you what, I've enjoyed my time in Oklahoma. I am so fortunate that I have two teams that I can root for.
[0:24:36.7] KM: That's fun.
[0:24:37.9] KJ: It was –
[0:24:39.1] KM: There’s always someone playing.
[0:24:39.9] KJ: That's right. The bad thing is that the Razorbacks hadn’t been playing well, but Oklahoma has. It's like, I'm just riding that. When Razorbacks play well, I jump back over on that side.
[0:24:50.1] KM: Why'd you leave the Green Bay Packers?
[0:24:52.8] KJ: I retired. I go to the Green Bay Packers. I actually – I get traded to the Green Bay Packers, because I didn't – I didn't want to –
[0:24:59.5] KM: Oh, I missed that.
[0:25:00.8] KJ: Yeah. I didn’t want to come through the offseason. I said, “Hey, I've got this thing, this vision that God has given me called PARK.”
[0:25:07.0] KM: That happened while you were at the Miami Dolphins.
[0:25:09.5] KJ: Well, I started building it up at Philadelphia. I get to Miami and I'm really in, raising money with Walter Hussman. He’s helping me out at the Arkansas Democratic Gazette. I’m flying home a lot. I'm having meetings. We're actually having these offseason, or these things doing offseason while I'm still playing to raise money. It was one of those things where I go – I either listen to the coach, or I listen to God. I said, “Coach, I can't come to an offseason.” He said, “Well, I'm going to trade you,” and he did. He trades me with Green Bay.
Best thing that ever happened. I went to Super Bowl with Green Bay Packers. I actually had an opportunity to getting traded to Green Bay, meeting up with my old good friend Reggie White, who was an anchor in my life. We got a chance to play two more years together.
[0:25:53.2] KM: Did you say they won the Super Bowl the year you were there?
[0:25:54.7] KJ: When I was there. Two years. Yeah, one year I was there, we won the Super Bowl, ’96.
[0:25:59.6] KM: You are just on the winning team everywhere you go.
[0:26:02.8] KJ: Well, sometimes you think you're going to the desert, but when you get there you realize there's something there for you. Nobody ever wanted to go to Green Bay, because it was so cold. It was the place nobody wanted to go. When you look at guys like Mike Holmgren and who was the head coach, as well as Ron Wolf who was the general manager, Reggie White and Brett Favre, they’ve changed that place where players want to go and play at Green Bay.
[0:26:30.5] KM: Well, ain’t it the first football team ever, or something like that?
[0:26:33.5] KJ: Well, they won the first championships. Yeah, they won World Championships. They had a guy, Layton Lombardi who was a pretty good coach. Yeah, Lombardi came along in the 60s and made them a good team.
[0:26:43.0] KM: You’ve got Vince Lombardi?
[0:26:43.8] KJ: Vince Lombardi. With guys like Bart Starr and all those big ass. They had some pretty good players.
[0:26:51.2] KM: Well, I can't believe you didn't want to go there, but it is cold.
[0:26:53.1] KJ: No, I went there for two years.
[0:26:53.8] KM: I know, but I can’t believe you were like –
[0:26:55.3] KJ: No. Nobody’s wants to go. An African-American that says a lot, right? You don't like cold weather.
[0:27:00.5] KM: You know you don’t.
[0:27:01.7] KJ: I just did not like cold weather. Miami was my place.
[0:27:04.9] KM: Is there anything you would have done different?
[0:27:06.9] KJ: No.
[0:27:07.7] KM: When you look back through all of that career?
[0:27:09.6] KJ: No. No, I don't think so. I think that even the bad stuff happened for a reason. I love it when the Apostle Paul said, “I rejoice in tribulation, because tribulation creates patience and patience experience hope and hope maketh us not a shame.” I think that all those stuff, the bad things that happen to being traded, the bad games, the drop passes, I think it all works together for some good in your life. It just teaches you something. It makes you a whole person.
[0:27:38.4] KM: It does. It teaches you something. Everyone asked me to ask you about the game today. How does it compare now from when you played, things like what is better, what do you think is better? I think you just said safety is better. They have enacted changes that you may not like, or you may like. Do they hit as hard now?
[0:27:56.0] KJ: The old players never like the nude – That's just the way it is. You can't find an old player that says, “Oh, I love what they're doing now.” We called it modified 707 that you tackle every now and then, which means basically 707 is when you play without a helmet and shoulder pads and nobody tackles anybody. We just called it modified 707. We understand the importance of making the game safe and we want the game to be safe, because we want our kids and our grandkids to play. All the old players complain in front of everybody going, “Oh, if the game was safe like this, I ought to play 10 years or 20 years.”
[0:28:30.5] KM: Well, some of the guys are these days.
[0:28:31.7] KJ: They are playing 20 years. Yeah. If you think about it, just not the same physical game. Guys are faster and guys are bigger and there's more money to be made. It's really been interesting the change of how physical the game is. The game is still physical. It's just they protect players from getting those knockout hits.
[0:28:50.6] KM: I wasn’t going to ask you this question, but you made me think about this. I saw this guy on 60 minutes who's had a concussion and he's coming and going, but he said he used to get in the dog piles and he used to reach down to find fingers and break them.
[0:29:04.4] KJ: That was before me. There's always been these guys who've been tough in the piles. There’s these stories about you get hit and poked in the eye and fingers bend. I've been in the pile before, but I think there came a time around the time when I got there, people start realizing these people are trying to make more money and then go home with their families. You saw a change in play.
Back in the 70s when you saw the Raiders and then Cleveland Brown, the mistake by the lake and a dog pound, I mean, those things. You had the purple people eaters, the steel curtains. I mean, they would was just knock you out. They’ll try to take you out. That's just the way it was. It was a physical football game. Then it became more business. They said, Joe named wants to get this leg broken and they said, “Okay, we got to start protecting players.”
That's why when you look at the fact that you see somebody like a Tom Brady who playing 20 years, how could he last that long and stay healthy? Their football, the quarterbacks are protected a lot more than they used to be. You can tackle them, but they are very well-protected. It's better for the game.
The players start realizing this themselves. They start making deals, “Hey, man. We're not going to go after each other. We're not going to try to hurt each other. What we're going to try to do is make sure we get through this game. We're going to play physical, because we got to keep our job, but we're not going to intentionally try to hurt guys.”
[0:30:20.0] KM: Do you think the targeting rule of ejecting you after from for targeting is too strict?
[0:30:25.4] KJ: Yes, I think it is too strict. I think that –
[0:30:27.9] KM: Because some people don't look like they mean it.
[0:30:29.4] KJ: Well, I think that what you have do say is if it's an intentional, or if it's a non-intentional. I hope they’d go back and look at that rule and say after two, if you had two in a game, you get kicked out. I mean, you started thinking about the national championship game, when you had Clemson versus LSU. Clemson’s middle linebackers are one of the best players in the country. I mean, he's as good as any other middle linebacker. When he leaves the game, the game's over. I mean, I think LSU still wins that game, but I think it’s harder when they had their linebacker. Because of a targeting call, he's gone.
[0:30:58.0] KM: I know. That doesn’t seem right.
[0:31:00.2] KJ: Even if you do two targeting in the playoffs, so players stay longer. I mean, so basically, doing a season one targeting, you’re out for half. That's the rule. You’re out for a whole half and then come back.
[0:31:11.3] KM: Maybe the first of the next game.
[0:31:12.8] KJ: Right. That’s what I’m saying. You get out for a half. Whatever that half is, you’re out for half. I think that when you start seeing this is so detrimental that one of your key player who didn't try to target somebody get caught for targeting and they're gone, the game's over.
[0:31:27.9] KM: Is football ever crooked?
[0:31:30.0] KJ: No. Not that I know of. It’s hard to point shame.
[0:31:32.6] KM: Inflate gate and all that stuff.
[0:31:34.3] KJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. They're trying to get every angle they can to win, whether it's reading, pitching signs, or looking and trying to read people. That's why guys when they send to play in, they put the playbook over their mouth, so you can't read their lips.
[0:31:47.8] KM: No lip readers.
[0:31:48.3] KJ: They will find some lip readers. Hey, whatever it takes to get an angle to win the game.
[0:31:52.6] KM: It’s a lot of money gray.
[0:31:53.4] KJ: Some people would do. They want to win, because if you don't win, you lose your job, you lose your job, you don't make money. They're going to get every edge they can.
[0:32:01.4] KM: Would you like to play today?
[0:32:02.9] KJ: Love to play today. Let me explain this out. There's a tight end that just played for the Atlanta Falcons. Anyway, I mean a pretty good player. Not a bad player. Just went to the Cleveland Brown for 44 million dollars. A 4-year deal for 44 million dollars. Now at the max, my best contract I made 1.6.
[0:32:23.9] KM: Just think what you could do for the kids at Parkview if you made that –
[0:32:26.2] KJ: Oh, if I made more money, you can make more money, you could do more things. Because of the money, I love the play. Not anything than that, because of the longevity of career. The fact that they're protecting players, so players can play longer.
[0:32:36.7] KM: You have two sons. Is one of them still playing in the NFL?
[0:32:39.1] KJ: No, no, no. One played, he's done. I had one that's a senior.
[0:32:41.5] KM: He got drafted?
[0:32:42.4] KJ: Yeah. He's got drafted by St. Louis and played a couple years and then went to San Diego and played a year and now he's done. Keith Jr. Kenyon was a senior this year at University of Illinois. Had a great career under Lovie Smith, who was the head coach up there. They finally made it to a bowl game this year, made it to the Red Box Bowl in California. He's done.
[0:33:01.4] KM: There’s so many Bowls.
[0:33:02.9] KJ: Then Cole’s at Redshirt Junior at the University of Arkansas.
[0:33:05.6] KM: Oh, I’m going to watch him. I didn’t know that.
[0:33:06.2] KJ: Yeah, he’s pretty good.
[0:33:07.5] KM: What’s his name?
[0:33:08.6] KJ: Colin Jackson.
[0:33:09.0] KM: I’m going to watch for him.
[0:33:10.0] KJ: Yeah, yeah. Number 3.
[0:33:10.7] KM: What position –
[0:33:11.4] KJ: He’s the wide receiver. He plays the wide receiver.
[0:33:13.1] KM: Oh, yes.
[0:33:13.6] KJ: Yeah, he catches the ball down the field.
[0:33:14.9] KM: Runs. So he’s fast.
[0:33:15.8] KJ: Yeah, he’s fast. He’s fast. I would love to race him at the same age though. We talk about that all the time. I go, “I was your age and we race, I think I beat you.”
[0:33:23.9] KM: Competitive till the day he dies.
[0:33:25.5] KJ: He weighs 200 and about 10. I weighed 245.
[0:33:28.8] KM: What do you think about the social statements that they're making at the football game, like who was that? Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem. Should social influence be a part of football?
[0:33:39.0] KJ: Social influence has always been a part of sports.
[0:33:41.2] KM: It really has been.
[0:33:41.9] KJ: It always been at playing and always be. Yeah, I remember being – I remember just seeing the two guys at the Olympics, a whole lot of the black fist saying that –
[0:33:52.5] KM: That’s right.
[0:33:53.8] KJ: It was a stage and an opportunity to say that we've been treated wrong. I'm at a point where I can magnify that. I think that you got to be really careful how you do it, right? I think that –
[0:34:06.0] KM: Well, his was a silent protest, which I thought was – if you're going to protest, I thought it was nice, because he was silent. For people who don't know –
[0:34:14.7] KJ: Where he took a knee.
[0:34:15.5] KM: He took a knee during the national anthem.
[0:34:16.4] KJ: Right. During the national anthem. There's still some people who take seats during the national anthem. I think that to some people when you look at Kaepernick, he's a guy who just was bringing out information and letting the world know, “Hey, here's what's happening with the police force that’s happen to be there.”
[0:34:32.4] KM: In our community that you may not know.
[0:34:34.5] KJ: We want to bring out attention. This is my way of doing it. America takes that flag seriously. There's a lot of things you can do.
[0:34:41.2] KM: Oh, really. I didn’t know that.
[0:34:43.5] KJ: Hey, I don’t know. I don’t know a place like Flag and Banner. They probably bought more flags during that time. America takes that flag seriously.
[0:34:49.8] KM: I did sell a lot of flags when that was going on.
[0:34:52.6] KJ: To think about it and I do too. I mean, I'm going to tell you, I'm a guy who says I love the fact that a player has that much control, whether it's LeBron James, or Colin Kaepernick. How they use that is different. You got to be very careful how you use it, because it [inaudible 0:35:10.5].
[0:35:11.0] KM: Did it cost him his career? I don't know.
[0:35:13.5] KJ: He actually hadn't played again.
[0:35:14.9] KM: Oh, so he did.
[0:35:16.2] KJ: He hadn't played again. He tried to get on a team. Kaepernick played, had a great season.
[0:35:21.9] KM: He is a quarterback.
[0:35:22.4] KJ: Out of San Francisco. They made it all the way up to the end. I mean, he played great. They and the rules changed a little bit and he wasn't successful. Yeah, the question is should he get an opportunity to play again or not? That's up for the team to make a decision.
[0:35:38.7] KM: Yeah. What do you think about college athletes should receive pay endorsements?
[0:35:44.3] KJ: I actually believe that all college athletes should receive pay. I don't think it should be from an endorsement situation. I am smart enough to realize the issue is there's just not enough money to go around. Title 9 is not going to allow that to happen for every athlete to get paid.
[0:36:01.5] KM: What’s Title 9?
[0:36:02.5] KJ: Basically, when you – the female side gets everything the male side get. Even though there's not as many people going to see some of the female sports, they still get the same thing. If you decide to play a player over here something, you got to pay –
[0:36:17.3] KM: They don't sell their seat. They don't sell the tickets sales.
[0:36:19.2] KJ: Right. Still, you got – everything is equal. Everything has to be equal and that's good. We need to be forced –
[0:36:23.3] KM: For college.
[0:36:24.6] KJ: We need to be forced to do the right thing. I love the fact of doing that. My philosophy was and nobody's asked me, but I've had this conversation is a needs basis. Not by the fact you play a sport, just by the fact you have needs. Whether I'm the girl on the track team, or the guy on the track team, if I come from a situation where my parents don't make a certain amount of money, which they get that with Pell grants and different things at school. I think there should be a little more emphasis put on that.
[0:36:51.6] KM: I saw the athletic director, Hunter – I cannot say his last name.
[0:36:54.1] KJ: Yurachek.
[0:36:55.2] KM: Thank you. Thank you, Keith Jackson. At a luncheon. I saw him speak and somebody in the crowd when they did the Q&A asked him that very question and he said he didn't have a problem if they wanted to get endorsements, but he said they cannot use the mascot. How many of these kids and I never thought of it like that. He said, “How many of these kids are going to want to go – how many companies are going to want to advertise with a kid who can't say, “I play for the Razorbacks, or where near the mascots.”
[0:37:21.7] KJ: Where it's highway robbery is when you see a guy like Zion Williamson at Duke University. I'm a Duke fan and I go to Duke games. I'm sitting there going, and I'm looking at every night Duke University's on TV. His following is huge. I mean, and they're selling the number 1 jersey. I started thinking to myself. I mean, here's a guy who should be participating in some financial way. Michael Jordan when he played in college, he was so good that he changed the game. There are certain guys who changed the college game, where they're going to show them on TV more, everybody's going to be at the crowd, they’re going to buy the jersey.
[0:37:58.3] KM: But if they can’t say it’s from Duke.
[0:37:59.7] KJ: Yeah. Well, that don’t make – I mean, Zion Williamson has a huge following. I think he would be a great –
[0:38:01.8] KM: You’re saying that he should be able to sell Duke and they get a cut of it.
[0:38:05.0] KJ: No. As long as he wears blue and white and he said, “I'm Zion Williams,” he's in good shape. He doesn’t have to wear the logo.
[0:38:11.7] KM: He has name recognition.
[0:38:13.0] KJ: That's the same thing. I mean, it’d be like Sidney Moncrief back in the day. I mean, who don't know that Sidney Moncrief is a Razorback basketball player. I mean, literally –they could've did a triplet, sell cars. I'm triplets, we're selling cars. We’re the triplets. They're only wearing red and white. There is a way to get it done. I just don't think that's fair for the other players. I just don't think it's fair for the other players.
[0:38:34.0] KM: Because it is a team sport.
[0:38:35.0] KJ: It's a team sport. I think that there's a situation where players know. They look at a guy and go, “He's really good.”
[0:38:44.4] KM: He’s the one.
[0:38:45.4] KJ: Okay. He's better than we are. I mean, you just come to include you. In that sense, he's making us money, he's given us more time. He deserve a new market share.
[0:38:54.0] KM: Yeah, we’re getting more airtime because of him. We’re going to get to go to tournaments because of him and all that stuff. Speaking of team sport, I love how the new basketball coach has all the coaches wearing the same color. Have you noticed that?
[0:39:04.7] KJ: I did not. I did not. But that’s good though.
[0:39:06.6] KM: Every time we play my basketball game, all the coaches on the sideline aren’t wearing the same shirt.
[0:39:12.0] KJ: I like that. Yeah, I like that. I like being uniform. It is what it is.
[0:39:14.7] KM: I love it.
[0:39:15.7] KJ: You know what’s really great is that he understands the importance of being a team player. After the game, he actually will wear the logo shirts of some of the investors, or whatever you call them. He's been great. Musselman has been great.
[0:39:31.4] KM: Musselman.
[0:39:32.4] KJ: Yeah, yeah. Eric Musselman. He's been great. He's bringing a lot of talent –
[0:39:35.3] KM: You know he’s only 5”6’.
[0:39:36.5] KJ: He’s not tall at all. I’ve been with him. I hung out with him. I tell you what, he's tall when it comes to picking players. He's got a great recruiting class coming in.
[0:39:43.6] KM: Well, it’s his wife who is the recruiter.
[0:39:46.2] KJ: No. If you see his wife, you know he's a good recruiter. She has family from Arkansas.
[0:39:53.2] KM: Oh, no kidding.
[0:39:54.0] KJ: Yeah, she did. I had a chat with her and she's talked about it over again, I want to say Magnolia, but I may be wrong. Yes, from Arkansas.
[0:40:00.2] KM: Well, we’ve got to talk about PARK before we get finished. I love talking to you Keith. I’m going to tell everybody that you've been listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy and I'm speaking today with the NFL retired tight end, Mr. Keith Jackson. He's also the founder of the non-profit PARK.
You said on PARK’s website, you had a vision from God about helping teenagers overcome the obstacles of violence and troubled lives. That as you got older, eventually graduating from the University of Oklahoma and retiring from the National Football League, you were able to develop your vision of creating a place that will give kids hope, strong values and confidence. Tell us about your vision. You started telling us a little bit about it and where this passion from this vision comes from.
[0:40:43.9] KJ: Well, the one thing about it is that I actually go to sleep. There's a verse that talks about old men dream dreams and young men have visions, right? I go, well, I'm young at the time, so I'm going, “This is a dream and not a vision.” I mean, “This is a vision, not a dream.” I have this vision and it's clear. I think that God speak to us through visions.
[0:41:06.8] KM: Describe a vision.
[0:41:08.1] KJ: A vision is is when God shows you the end of something and then he tells you to come back and create the beginning, just like he does. You can see the end of all the kids being at PARK and all of them graduating and all of them going to college and all of them having families and all of them having a nice house and driving nice cars and good jobs. You see the end of it, but then in 1995, you have to come back and start at the beginning. This is our 25th anniversary.
[0:41:34.3] KM: Is that what people mean when they say dream big?
[0:41:37.0] KJ: Well, dreaming is different. No, no. A dream is just something that you experience at one time that you know something big is going to happen in your life. A vision takes a little while to carry out.
[0:41:47.7] KM: When I talk to young people I say, “Dream big, as big as you can dream.”
[0:41:50.6] KJ: Yeah. Dream as big as you can dream.
[0:41:52.4] KM: You're saying they're not really the same way.
[0:41:54.2] KJ: Well, the vision – a dream and to me, specifically is something that is for you, right? You're having these dreams or something that is occur. A vision is more where you're leading people, where it’s more people oriented. We may have a biblical scholar call it with more and go. That's exactly wrong. Old men will dream dreams. When you say old men dream dreams, they're at the end of their age. They're having dreams of what's happening right now, what needs to happen. Young men have vision, because there's going to be a stretch of time.
[0:42:26.5] KM: I like it.
[0:42:27.9] KJ: Well, I didn't create it. It’s in a book.
[0:42:30.4] KM: Well, you explained it well. I like it.
[0:42:32.3] KJ: I have this vision of taking these kids who struggle academically, who will probably be the kids there that it will be the problems down the line. You bring them in from the 7th and 8th grade, rising 8th graders and you keep them for five years. You're able to create a holistic approach to change. All this is in the vision. I'm not smart enough to figure this out. I'm a communication major at the University of Oklahoma, but this vision is so strong and so clear about taking these kids, attacking their deficiencies, raising their GPAs and helping them go to college. When these kids started, they thought a D meant doing good. They didn't know it's something bad. Over the years and they thought the F, the flag was important too.
[0:43:17.7] KM: F’s for flag. D for doing good. All right.
[0:43:19.1] KJ: F for flag. D for doing good. Over the years, what we've done is we've been able to attack those deficiencies and send hundreds of kids off to college. It's been really exciting. We’re almost at a 100 kids going to college. It's been really exciting to see that vision from the beginning of doing this deficiency attacking and then spirit, soul and body. There’s a holistic approach to change. You are a spirit. You have a soul and you live in the body. When you complete all that and get rid of all the negativity around all that, you create a really strong chain. I call them change agents. They are forces out there. They're the kids that I have to have jobs in the community that better changing lives also.
[0:44:00.6] KM: How do they get involved in your program?
[0:44:02.2] KJ: Basically, we work with the Little Rock School District in the [inaudible 0:44:05.1] School District.
[0:44:06.2] KM: You’re closed right now because of the coronavirus?
[0:44:07.7] KJ: Yes. We're shut down now, because of the virus. When the school district shut down, we shut down. It’s the same thing. The kids can't come there. We're also talking to them every day by phone, making sure they're getting on their laptops and doing their homework and all that stuff.
[0:44:19.3] KM: Then I saw that you’ve been posting to the website. The website is –
[0:44:21.9] KJ: Positivekids.org.
[0:44:23.5] KM: Positivekids –
[0:44:24.1] KJ: Kids.org.
[0:44:26.2] KM: I saw you have a graduation coming up.
[0:44:28.3] KJ: Yes, I do.
[0:44:29.2] KM: For who was that?
[0:44:29.9] KJ: Our 25th graduation. What we do is we take the students who've been in the program for five years and some drop out, but some stay in and those we have a graduation from. Our kids come from schools that are in the county and schools that are in the city, so it's a colorful graduation. You have the orange of hall and the green of meals. You have all the – They walk down. We have our own graduation.
[0:44:53.7] KM: Then you have reunions.
[0:44:55.0] KJ: Then we have a reunion that we had to cancel. That was going to be on April 18th. We're inviting all of our kids back at the end of the program. Over 1,300 kids have been in our program and we're talking about teachers. That's been a part of the program. It's what is the board members, staff, everybody.
[0:45:14.1] KM: Is it mostly an after-school program?
[0:45:15.4] KJ: It is an after-school program. Yeah.
[0:45:16.3] KM: Is it a weekend program?
[0:45:17.4] KJ: No.
[0:45:17.9] KM: It's only after school.
[0:45:18.7] KJ: After school and summertime.
[0:45:19.2] KM: It’s only helping kids with – it’s almost like tutors.
[0:45:21.6] KJ: Yeah. I mean, we have tutors and group leaders.
[0:45:22.6] KM: But you have a lot of facilities there. You have basketball, racquetball courts.
[0:45:27.3] KJ: We're competing against the outside world. We want to give them something just as good to do on the inside. I mean, we got a theater.
[0:45:33.1] KM: How do they get involved – how do they sign up?
[0:45:35.2] KJ: Basically, we go through the counselors at the school, different school district and we're looking for a kid who's struggling academically, has a lower GPA and we go through them and then we tell them to take this. They take this stuff on their parents. They bring it back. Then we call the parents and say, “Here's what we’re doing.”
[0:45:50.7] KM: What’s the number one reason that they have a low GPA?
[0:45:53.3] KJ: Well, I want to say my program does a great job of changing that. I will say that just the lack of awareness, the importance of education.
[0:46:01.4] KM: Structure and their home life possibly?
[0:46:03.0] KJ: No, some people. Yeah, some people. Some people you’ll say that. I think it’s an importance of understanding why it's important to have education. If you grew up where your family was a hard-working family, but they never talked about going to college.
[0:46:17.5] KM: I got you.
[0:46:18.1] KJ: To you, even though you work hard, the parents work hard, or the mother works hard and she goes to work every day and she puts food on the table, she's just not aware that this thing called education –
[0:46:27.6] KM: She can’t dedicate any time to you, because she's working so hard.
[0:46:30.4] KJ: That’s right. She’s working so hard. We become the second parent and we bring them in, we attack the deficiencies and help with their homework.
[0:46:37.7] KM: You find these kids through your own outreach program that goes to the school and says, “I want some at-risk kids that you think we could help.”
[0:46:44.7] KJ: We've been great partners with the school district, County Special School District, as well as Little Rock Public School District. We've been very good partners with them and we've enjoyed that. We say we change together, because we still use them along the way, and so we're having a conversation with the teachers and the counselors and all that along the way.
[0:47:03.1] KM: I'm just bowled over by your success and all the things you do and your vision. What do you see is going to happen to PARK going forward? You're just going to keep doing the same old same, or are you going to grow it some more, or how you – what’s your next dream?
[0:47:14.1] KJ: Well, This is 2020 as a year of vision.
[0:47:19.1] KM: Oh, 2020.
[0:47:20.6] KJ: Yeah. We're in this year vision on what's happening in it. I told I told my board members. I said, my vision is that we'd be better. We've done a great job up to this point. How do we become better for the next 25 years?
[0:47:33.7] KM: You’re still passionate about it?
[0:47:35.0] KJ: Oh, I love going to work every day. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting around the house staring at my fingers going, “What’s next? Let’s get back to work.”
[0:47:40.7] KM: You go every day.
[0:47:41.4] KJ: I’m at PARK every day. I'm not traveling to football games, or headed out of town.
[0:47:45.9] KM: Are you still doing radio?
[0:47:47.1] KJ: No, no, no. I'm not doing radio anymore. No. I gave that up, because I had one kid go to Illinois, one go to Arkansas.
[0:47:52.8] KM: Those are the games you’re going to?
[0:47:53.7] KJ: Yeah. Those are the games I’m traveling through.
[0:47:55.2] KM: Keith, thank you so much for sharing your story. I have a gift. Although, we can’t hardly touch, so I’ll just going to set it over here.
[0:48:00.3] KJ: Okay.
[0:48:01.1] KM: It’s Oklahoma and Arkansas.
[0:48:02.7] KJ: I got Oklahoma on there together, and the flag.
[0:48:06.3] KM: I know.
[0:48:06.4] KJ: A lot of people die for their flag. I really love that flag and I’ll fight for it for the rest of my life too.
[0:48:13.0] KM: Thanks. You’re so good. Who’s our – oh, what?
[0:48:14.9] KJ: Can I just say one thing before I go?
[0:48:16.6] KM: Sure. Yeah.
[0:48:16.6] KJ: You know that every school that we had a graduate from, we've had a lot of schools graduate from, we come to Flag and Banner to get a flag made of those schools. In front of PARK, there's 15 different flags of 15 different colleges and university. When you walk in, it is so impressive.
[0:48:33.5] KM: I haven't been at the PARK in a long time.
[0:48:34.4] KJ: You need to come see all those flags that you’ve created for us.
[0:48:37.6] KM: I didn’t need to. When you first built that place, I came out there and I heard you telling the story that you wanted to do that and I spoke with someone who wasn’t you. I think my salespeople have been helping you ever since. Thank you so much.
[0:48:48.9] KJ: They have. It’s awesome. Awesome.
[0:48:51.2] KM: Listen, I want to thank everybody for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening and that it, whatever it is will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:49:06.9] G: You've been listening to Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select Radio and choose today's guest.
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Kerry’s goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.