Many professional football players who journey to Canton are being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson is just collecting a paycheck.
Yesterday, Jackson signed to play with the Canton Cougars, a team in the Ultimate Indoor Football League. The UIFL is a 1-year-old league that plays with rules similar to those of the National Football League and Arena Football League.
“One of the good things about indoor football is it’s a very fast paced game,” Cougars owner and CEO Tim Clark said. “It’s a lot different than the outdoor game, so it develops you a lot better as a player.”
Clark said the NFL lockout benefitted the UIFL because it forced teams to choose free agents quickly and left some players overlooked.
“Because of the way the lockout happened, it opened up the door for my organization to sign players that fell through the cracks,” he said. “So we get a bigger talent pool, one being Boo Jackson.”
Even though the UIFL is entering its sophomore season, Clark said experienced players view it as a place to hone their skills. Some of the league’s players have NFL and Canadian Football League experience, such as former Kentucky Wildcats standout Jared Lorenzen, who is now the league’s commissioner.
“We do have a huge talent pool. It’s not like it’s just a bunch of guys that just got off the couch and played,” Clark said.
And that’s good news for Jackson, who enjoys playing quarterback on the field, not from his armchair.
“Now that I know that I’m actually playing somewhere, it’s just a big sigh of relief off of my shoulders and an awful lot off my family’s shoulders as well,” Jackson said.
While he waited for the right opportunity, Jackson kept himself in form by throwing to receivers at El Camino College, where he played for two years before joining the Bobcats. Jackson also occupied his time coaching the freshmen football team at North High School in Torrance, Calif.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity to go back to Ohio and showcase my talents again to everybody that’s out there who followed my career since I first signed my letter of intent to Ohio University,” he said.
Ohio coach Frank Solich said he is glad Jackson has found a place to play the game he loves. Jackson played for the Bobcats for three seasons and led the Bobcats to the 2010 R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl his senior season.
“Our players love the game, and any chance they get to extend play beyond college, whatever it might be, I just wish him the best of luck and hope it all goes well for him,” Solich said.
Jackson might be the new face of the Cougars’ organization, Clark said. Canton went 1-13 in its inaugural season.
Jackson will make between $300 and $500 a game and will be set up with a job and housing while playing for the Cougars.
“Our pay scale is not as elaborate as the NFL or CFL, so one of the things we do to compensate the lack of pay for guys that are hungry and want a chance to get good film and to play is we get them jobs,” Clark said.