Jim Jeffcoat spent 12 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, but blood is thicker than the star. After Jackson Jeffcoat called his dad with news that the Washington Redskins had signed him, Jim Jeffcoat’s reaction was, “Hail to the Redskins!”
“It was weird at first just because I grew up cheering against the Redskins,” Jackson Jeffcoat said in a phone interview. “I grew up going to the Cowboys games, watching my dad play. But it wasn’t a hard transition at all, because I’m on a team. I want to play.”
Jim Jeffcoat was a first-round draft choice, the 23rd overall pick of the Cowboys in 1983. Jackson Jeffcoat went undrafted despite earning All-America honors and the Ted Hendricks Award last season at the University of Texas.
It was the first time since 1938 that UT didn’t have a player drafted.
Jeffcoat signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, but they waived him out of training camp.
“I didn’t think it would be this difficult,” said Jackson, a Plano West product. “Sometimes people have challenges, and then things happen. They didn’t want us at Texas, I guess, and we had to go out and prove we’re worth something.”
Jeffcoat changed positions at Seattle, starting as a defensive end/linebacker before moving to a full-time linebacker at the beginning of the preseason. It didn’t help his chances to make the roster of the defending Super Bowl champions.
“It was hard picking up the new position,” said Jeffcoat, who had four preseason tackles. “That made it hard for me to play fast, and hard for me really to be just a football player because I was trying to learn so much. But to the end, I thought I was going to make it. It kind of caught me off guard.”
Jeffcoat signed to the Redskins’ practice squad soon after being cut by the Seahawks. Washington elevated him to the 53-player roster last week, but he was inactive last Sunday as he continues to learn to play from a stand-up position.
The one thing Jeffcoat has never lost is his confidence.
“I knew I could play in the NFL at the beginning,” Jeffcoat said. “I knew it. I just had to show somebody else I could and get them on my side and believe I can. Me and my dad were talking about it not too long ago, talking about how I know that I can play, and he knows that I can play. He said, ‘You’ve just got to get somebody else on board with you and make them believe it as well.’
“I can play in this league. I’ve just got to stay in this league. That’s the biggest thing. You get in the league, you stay in it.”
Valletta, Goodell meet
Chris Valletta had never met NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell until he was invited to NFL headquarters on Oct. 1.
The league has held a series of meetings, many with former players, to discuss the league’s personal conduct policy. The former Texas A&M offensive lineman, who spent time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad in 2002, joined former NFL players Cris Carter, Bart Oates, Hugh Douglas and Christian Peter at a roundtable with league officials.
Valletta said he entered with no preconceived opinion of Goodell, who has been on the hot seat since he initially handed down a two-game suspension to Ray Rice this summer.
“I came out of that meeting unquestionably convinced that [Goodell] is absolutely the right person to lead the NFL through this time,” Valletta said in a phone interview. “He was so engaged in this meeting. He was so present. He discussed every issue that was brought up. He debated at times. He agreed. He disagreed. He asked people to expand on their points. He discussed certain topics. He challenged certain things. He took about 10 pages of notes, handwritten, front and back. He was just so engaged in this meeting, and I saw a guy who was just so absolutely [committed] to be a leader in this scenario and get ahead of this thing and get the NFL through this.”
Valletta, 36, has become a successful businessman and author in New York. He is the co-founder of Mission Athletecare, a $100 million company that develops products for athletes. He also recently published a new book, Team WORKS!, offering advice on “how to build a championship business.”
Valletta suggested several improvements the NFL can make, including eliminating the gray from the personal conduct policy, developing a credo and toughening its discipline.
“I would argue that it’s better that history judge you for being too harsh than being too lenient,” Valletta said. “I think that’s critical. We also need to know that domestic violence is not just an NFL issue. It’s a national issue. I think 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence. There are only 2,000 players in the NFL. It is certainly an issue in the NFL, but it’s an issue everywhere.
“I think the NFL is in a pole position to actually lead for social change in domestic violence. I believe it can literally move nations when it comes to that stuff. So I’m excited to see what comes out of it.”
Valletta said the new personal conduct policy, expected to be completed before the Super Bowl in February, likely will have a panel to levy punishment rather than Goodell.
“It’s about time we stood up against and actually elevated ourselves above the game,” Valletta said. “Just because someone can run fast or throw far doesn’t mean that they’re the right players. Hiring the right players is always more important than hiring the best ones. There’s a big difference. I think that’s kind of the approach the NFL needs to take for the long term. In the short term, we certainly have to talk about policy changes creating more definitiveness in the policy.”