By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson died Sunday night in a car accident.

According to the Alabama State Patrol, Jackson, 36, was driving his 2012 Chevrolet Camaro just south of Montgomery, Alabama when his car left the roadway, struck a tree and overturned.

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Jackson was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The crash is being investigated.

TJ, as friends called him, was known for being a team player.

“He was definitely welcoming, defiantly encouraging on the football field for us to do good,” said former Vikings player Bryant McKinnie.

McKinnie said his family was good friends with Jackson’s family; even after Jackson’s football career ended, the two kept in touch.

TJ always wanted to put the team first, McKinnie said. “When Brett Farve came, he was like OK with taking a back seat and wanted to learn from him. He didn’t cause any distractions, he was still a team player.”

Friend and singer Jamecia Bennett said Jackson will be remembered for his jokes, pranks, and his commitment to the community.

“He was a person people gravitated towards because of that smile. It was so inviting,” Bennett said. “TJ did not mind being in the forefront of any charity. He was going to be there, he was going to smile.”

From food and clothes drives, to serving meals to the homeless on Thanksgiving, Jackson led with his heart when it came to caring for the people of Minnesota.

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Former teammate and training camp roommate Brooks Bollinger says Jackson was as genuine as it gets.

“He was the same guy every day in that sense, you know. When times were good, when times were tough, he was always laughing. He always had a smile on his face,” said teammate and roommate Brooks Bollinger. “Even when things weren’t going well, and the bullets were flying at him from the outside, I never saw him get frustrated with it. I never saw him take it personal. I never saw him blame anybody else.”

Jackson was employed at Tennessee State University as a quarterbacks coach.


The university’s athletic director Teresa Phillips spoke about Jackson’s passing on Monday:

“My heart is so heavy with hurt hearing of the passing of Coach Jackson. We were blessed with him for a short time but he did make an impact with our young men in this one season at TSU. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his young family and all who knew and loved him. We lift up all who are mourning today. Each loss is piercing. Today I ask God’s comfort to spread through the TSU community, the nation and the world.”

TSU Football Head Coach Rod Reed released a statement as well:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Jackson family in this time of bereavement. We are devastated. He was an awesome young man and he will be missed by our players, our staff and the TSU family.”

Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Jackson played five seasons with the Viking from 2006 to 2010 before signing with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Vikings released a statement Monday morning:

“The entire Vikings family is saddened by the news of Tarvaris Jackson being taken from us too soon. One of Tarvaris’ greatest attributes was his positive outlook and approach. He genuinely cared about others, was a good friend and will be missed by family, teammates and Vikings fans everywhere. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”

Jackson’s teammate, former quarterback Sage Rosenfels, also offered his condolences on Twitter.

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Jackson also played for the Buffalo Bills.

Reg Chapman