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January 21, 2019

“Winnipeg is the best chance I have to win that championship.” – Jeffcoat on board

Winnipeg Blue Bombers DE Jackson Jeffcoat celebrates a defensive stop during fourth quarter CFL action between the Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts in Winnipeg on Thursday, July 13, 2017. (CFL PHOTO - Jason Halstead)

Jackson Jeffcoat’s football journey has taken him from the University of Texas, to Seattle, Washington, Cleveland and Winnipeg.

He tested the temperature of the National Football League waters again this winter with a look-see from the Cincinnati Bengals, but the 28-year-old has also been pulled through pro football’s wringer often enough to recognize a good thing.

And that good thing is here in Winnipeg with the Blue Bombers.

“There’s something to be said for being wanted,” began Jeffcoat on Monday, not long after his two-year contract extension with the Bombers was made official by the club. “I tried my shot at the NFL and didn’t feel that I was wanted. Coming out of college I wasn’t drafted by anybody and didn’t feel that I was wanted. The Bombers were actively trying to get me back on the team and that’s special to me. It’s good to be where you’re wanted and I feel like I can thrive in an atmosphere like that.”

Jeffcoat, the son of Dallas Cowboys great Jim Jeffcoat, has put on a lot of miles chasing his NFL dream. He came to Winnipeg in 2017 after a stint with the Browns and made an immediate impression by recording seven sacks in 16 games as a rookie and then following that with five sacks in 12 games last year, adding four more sacks in the club’s two playoff games.

But his experiences down south also helped him understand the acute difference between simply getting an invitation to a training camp and being a cornerstone of a defence that had become a CFL force in the latter half of 2018. And, after a while, as much as the promise of fame and fortune in the NFL can be alluring, there’s also a sense of comfort that can come from the stability the Bombers and the three-down game offers – even in the cutthroat, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world or pro football.

“I wasn’t looking into being a camp body (in the NFL), that’s the biggest thing,” said Jeffcoat during a conference call from his offseason home in Austin, TX. “From my previous experience, when a team wants you, you know they want you and they’re going to show that they want you. I didn’t get that feeling like I did prior when I first went to the NFL… I was able to go to the Seahawks and no, it didn’t work out, but right after that the Redskins hit me up and wanted me to come in and work out and signed me on the spot. I didn’t get that feeling like I had before.

“Maybe it’s age… who knows? But I’m excited to be back and playing in Winnipeg and two more years, I’m really excited for that. Great fan base, great teammates… it’s a great opportunity for myself and our team.”

A couple of factors then weighed heavily as Jeffcoat turned his attention back to the CFL. First, there was the familiarity he already has with the players and coaching staff. Second, there is the progression the franchise has made over the last few years that has them inching closer to the winner’s circle.

“Everybody shares that goal. Everybody wants to win the championship, wants to win the Grey Cup,” Jeffcoat said. “We’re close. Not only are we close to winning the Grey Cup, we’re a close team. We like each other… no matter what was going on we were still communicating with each other after the season. Even though some guys might be going other places we communicated like we’re teammates. We’re going to be friends after it’s all said and done.”

“That’s a testament to our head coach. He’s a team guy and he’s always big on the guys hanging out together and being together. You feel you’re cared about when you’re with the Bomber organization.”

“Going back to last year, we were close,” added Jeffcoat. “I’m really competitive. I don’t like being close, I want to go get it. I haven’t been able to win a championship playing football. Not in high school, not in college, not in the pros. So I want to win a championship and that’s our goal and Winnipeg is the best chance I have to win that championship.”