NFL

Former Indianapolis Colts Linebacker Edwin Jackson Tragically Died After Having a Breakout Season

Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson sadly did not have a long NFL career. He had, however, just had a breakout season in Indianapolis, and it looked like his football career was on its way up. Jackson’s career and life tragically ended way too soon, though, when he died in February 2018 at just 26 years old. 

Edwin Jackson had a breakout season in 2016

Edwin Jackson had a breakout season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016. However, his career, and life, tragically ended way too soon.
Edwin Jackson of the Indianapolis Colts leaves the field after the game against the Buffalo Bills in 2016. | Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

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Jackson played college football at Georgia Southern and actually joined the program as a walk-on, according to the Indy Star. He played in 48 games, starting in 23, at Georgia Southern. He was ultimately the team’s leading tackler each of his last two seasons. Jackson also helped the program win one of the biggest games in its history when the team defeated Florida 26-20 in 2013.

He started his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015, according to the Indy Star. Jackson did not play in any games that season, though. The Indianapolis Colts then added him to the practice squad in December 2015. He then signed a reserve/future contract with the Colts in January 2016.

Jackson then had a breakout season with the Colts in 2016. He played in all 16 games, starting in eight of them. Jackson ultimately recorded 66 total tackles and two sacks that season with the Colts. He was ultimately the team’s third-leading tackler behind Pro Bowlers Mike Adams and D’Qwell Jackson. 

However, in 2017, a preseason injury put Edwin on injured reserve. He missed the entire 2017 season, according to the Indy Star.

Jackson was struck and killed by a car

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On the morning of Feb. 4, 2018, Jackson was riding with a ride-share operator, according to CNN. The driver pulled the car to the side of the interstate because Jackson had become ill, according to state police. It is believed that the driver stepped out of the car to help Jackson, police said, according to CNN. 

Then while both the driver and Jackson were standing outside the car, a black Ford F-150 pickup truck drove onto the emergency shoulder and struck them and the back of the car. One of the men went into the center lane, and a state trooper who spotted the wreckage struck the body as he slowed to stop for the crash, officials said, according to CNN.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene, CNN reported. The man accused of hitting Jackson and the driver later pleaded guilty to two counts of causing the death of a person while driving under the influence of alcohol, according to CNN. 

A scholarship was awarded to students in Jackson’s name

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After Jackson’s death, the Indianapolis Colts released a statement. 

“We were heartbroken to hear the news of Edwin Jackson’s passing. Edwin was loved by all in the Colts organization,” the statement read. “We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit and hard-working mentality. He was well-respected among all with whom he crossed paths, and he will be greatly missed in our locker room and throughout our entire organization. We also understand that another person lost his life in the accident, only adding to our sorrow on this day.”

Indianapolis Colts statement

Then almost a year later, during Super Bowl festivities, the Edwin Jackson 53 Foundation revealed 53 names of scholarship winners from Georgia, Indiana, and California, according to the Indy Star.

The announcement came at the “Big Game, Big Give,” which was a party hosted by Ludacris and headlined by the Black Eyed Peas, according to the Indy Star. The college students who earned the scholarship received $500 for books.

“We’re carrying out some of the goals Edwin had set,” Edwin’s brother, Adam Jackson, said, according to the Indy Star. “He wanted to reach a lot of people. … He wanted to share that story, his don’t-quit story, to motivate and inspire.”

From being a walk-on to becoming a college football star to then becoming a starting linebacker in the NFL, Edwin Jackson had an inspirational path to stardom before his story sadly ended way too soon.

NFL stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference