After a decade of playing professional football, including the last six with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Jackson Jeffcoat is hanging up the cleats.
The bruising defensive end announced his retirement late last week at the age of 33. The news came as a shock to those who keep a close eye on the CFL, particularly fans in Winnipeg that hoped Jeffcoat would re-sign for another season in blue and gold.
Jeffcoat, who was on an expiring contract, set to hit the open market on Tuesday, didn’t have much communication with the Bombers over the off-season. The Bombers were preparing to move on from the Texas native, with money tight after signing several other players to lucrative extensions, including fellow defensive end Willie Jefferson.
Jeffcoat took advantage of the CFL’s negotiation window, which ran between Feb. 4-11 and allowed players to test interest from other teams. There wasn’t much of a commitment being offered from clubs across the league, with no team willing to sign him for fair market value.
While there were plenty of positives throughout Jeffcoat’s years in Winnipeg, one of the knocks against him was a penchant for sustaining injuries. He never once played a full season, averaging 13 games a year since joining the Bombers in 2017.
Last year, Jeffcoat played 14 games, finishing with 21 defensive tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles. In 78 CFL regular season games, all with the Bombers, he combined for 147 defensive tackles, two interceptions, 38 sacks and 13 forced fumbles. Jeffcoat added 12 more sacks in 12 playoff games, including four Grey Cups, winning the league championship twice.
Before joining the Bombers, Jeffcoat spent years trying to crack an NFL roster, much like his father, Jim Jeffcoat, who had a decorated career down south, including a pair of Super Bowl wins with the Dallas Cowboys. The younger Jeffcoat had stints with Seattle, Washington, where he played in nine games, and Cleveland.
Jeffcoat had a standout four-year collegiate career at the University of Texas, where he collected 172 total tackles, 50 of which were for a loss; 26 sacks; four forced fumbles and an interception. In 2013, he won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the Ted Hendricks Award, handed out to the nation’s top defensive end.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.