Eddie Jackson was remembered as the ultimate Rattler

On Monday, Florida A&M lost the ultimate Rattler in Eddie Jackson, a FAMU Sports Hall of Famer and the president of the 220 Quarterback Club. Jackson, 86, gave 58 years of service to his alma mater FAMU.


Eddie Jackson was the ultimate Rattler.

He dedicated his life to improving the Florida A&M experience through 58 years of work for the university, from producing the school’s 1966 yearbook to chairing the 220 Quarterback Club.

Jackson died Monday at the age of 86, his wife Jerrlyne Jackson announced.

“Eddy was a legend. There is no replacement for Eddie Jackson,” said Selvin Cobb, president of Rattler Boosters, who met Jackson in 1968.

“He was a visionary. He saw things he wanted FAMU to do and thought he could help drive that force – just a great person for Florida A&M University.

“We’re going to miss him. But we have to keep going.”

More: 220 Quarterback Club President Eddie Jackson, FAMU Sports Hall of Famer, passes away

Originally from Orlando, Jackson arrived at FAMU in 1964 from Gibbs Junior College in St. Petersburg. While in college, Jackson produced FAMU’s 1966 yearbook and worked for the student publication The FAMUAN.

After graduating in 1966, Jackson became director of sports information for FAMU Athletics. In total, Jackson spent 39 professional years at FAMU, including positions as director of placement and career services, director of university public relations and vice president for university relations, before retiring in 2002.

“He was such a great citizen in this community, a great public servant, a Christian man and someone who cared about people,” said former Leon County School Board member Georgia “Joy” Bowen, a close family friend who supported Jackson already knew. over 20 years.

After his retirement, Jackson delved back into his journalistic work, writing “Coaching Against the Wind” in 2009, in which he detailed FAMU football seasons. Jackson also wrote guest columns for the Tallahassee Democrat.

In 2009, Jackson launched the 220 Quarterback Club, a support group for Rattlers football. Over the years, the club grew from supporting football to raising money and awareness for all FAMU athletic teams and other university divisions.

Jackson’s work at FAMU brought him into contact with Rattlers national championship football coaches, such as his close friend and confidant Jake Gaither.

With Jackson’s philanthropic efforts through the 220 Quarterback Club, he and the organization helped FAMU football claim its first Southwestern Athletic Conference and Celebration Bowl titles in 2023 under former coach Willie Simmons.

Jackson and the 220 Quarterback Club donated a power station, televisions and renovations for the Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse. Their contributions also led to FAMU Football having the first HBCU program with a cooling station for preseason training camp.

“Words cannot describe the impact Eddie had on me, my family and the football program,” said Simmons, now the running backs assistant coach at Duke University.

“From the moment I met Eddie in 2018, there wasn’t a single time I asked for something and he said no. Everyone knows he loved FAMU, the athletic department and the 220 Quarterback Club. His charisma and loving kindred spirit moved people when times seemed bleak or out of sorts.

“He was a blessing to all of us and will be truly missed by all who had the opportunity to know him.”

FAMU’s Eddie Jackson: ‘The kind of person we need more of today.’

Jackson continued to envision the club’s next step in promoting the university and its athletics program.

During a Quarterback Club luncheon on April 220, Jackson announced a $1 million fundraising campaign to raise money for FAMU Athletics.

A percentage of the money would be split between FAMU men’s and women’s sports and an Althea Gibson statue at the university’s tennis complex.

Cobb said the 220 Quarterback Club, which meets weekly, will continue after Jackson’s death.

“Mr. Jackson was one of the first people to reach out to me when I began in this role to express his unwavering support for Rattler athletics,” said FAMU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tiffani-Dawn Sykes in a prepared declaration.

“I will miss our friendly banter at the 220 Quarterback Club meetings and his engaging stories. He was a model for Rattler, and his transition creates a void that will be felt by many, including myself. My thoughts during this time are with Mrs. Jerrlyne, the Jackson family, members of the 220 Quarterback Club and Rattlers everywhere.”

Jackson’s FAMU-related efforts include honoring Tuskegee Airman Lt. James Polkinghorne Jr. with the renaming of FAMU Village to the residence hall in 2019 – an initiative on which he worked closely with Marjorie Turnbull, a former state representative and former member of the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Turnbull reminisced about all her phone calls with Jackson, during which he told her about his ideas.

“That was Eddie Jackson. If he had a great idea, he wouldn’t let it go,” said Turnbull, also a former Leon County commissioner. “He always made everyone else feel like it was their idea too, and he made people want to be part of whatever he proposed.”

“He was such a good friend, and I always thought he was admirable,” she added. “He represented the kind of person we need more of today. He brought people together and put forward ideas that benefited others. It was never about him – it was always about helping others.”

James Mathews, a retired state inspector general, knew Jackson for nearly half his 86-year life. The two men were friends for forty years.

“Eddie gave new meaning to friendship, giving, commitment and dedication,” Mathews said. “The community and FAMU in particular will never be the same. That’s because Eddie has managed to make a difference to the lives of so many people and improve support for so many charities.”

In a Facebook post Tuesday, award-winning author Samuel Freedman, a former columnist for The New York Times and a professor of journalism at Columbia University, reflected on Jackson’s intellect, along with his other notable characteristics.

Freedman explained how Jackson played a key role in his work when he wrote “Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights” in 2013. The book tells the story of the Grambling Tigers and FAMU Rattlers – rival football teams led by legendary coaches Eddie Robinson and Gaither – and how they revolutionized college sports.

“Eddie Jackson was one of those people who makes HBCUs so remarkable,” Freedman said in his post. “He was an intellectual, a historian, a communications manager, a sports booster – a Mr. FAMU in every sense.

“I learned so much from him while working on ‘Breaking The Line,’ and have cherished all our conversations and emails during and after the years I spent on the book. Be with the Ancestors, my friend. They deserve your wonderful company.”

Among many roles, FAMU’s Eddie Jackson was a ‘great mentor’

When Tallahassee City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox heard of Jackson’s death Monday evening, all she said was, “No, no, no, no.”

As a FAMU student, Williams-Cox worked for Jackson in the campus career placement office in the early 1980s. He helped her get an internship with General Motors at the auto giant’s headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.

“Over the years he has always been a mentor and someone I could call and reach out to and pick his brain,” Williams-Cox said. “FAMU has lost one of our great champions. I say lost, but he has now, like many others, become a guardian angel for FAMU.”

Former U.S. Representative Al Lawson Jr. – who met Jackson in 1966 while attending FAMU – also considered Jackson a mentor and said he was instrumental in his decision to run for the Florida House of Representatives in 1982.

In turn, Lawson always returned the favor by contributing to Jackson’s donation efforts at FAMU.

“I lost a good friend and a great mentor. Eddie was like family to me,” said Lawson, who played basketball and ran track for the FAMU Rattlers while in college.

“We had a great partnership and wanted to do everything we could to improve the learning process for students, especially in athletics. He always wanted to raise money and do things for the university. Over the years, every time Eddie called and asked for a contribution, I never told him no. Because he never told me no to anything I asked for.

“Eddie was community-oriented and loved by all. He will live on in our thoughts forever. It brings a smile to my face when I think about it.”

Contact Gerald Thomas, III via email at [email protected] or via the app formerly known as Twitter @3peatgee. Contact Tarah Jean at [email protected] or follow her on @tarahjean_.