Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik and newly reinstated safety Tanard Jackson met with members of the media Tuesday evening at One Buccaneer Place to discuss Jackson rejoining the team after serving a league-imposed suspension that lasted 19 games. Below is a transcript from the press conference.
Mark Dominik’s opening statement:
“We were notified today by the National Football League that Tanard Jackson has been reinstated to this football team. We have a process here where over the next two weeks to activate him at any time now. If we need to do that we obviously have to create a roster spot for him. There is a lot of confidentiality that goes into this program and we will answer as many questions as we physically can answer, and will answer for you all. And certainly here in a second we will let Tanard speak for himself. If there are any questions you all have for me, in terms of logistics or how this whole process works, I’d be happy to answer a few."
When did you learn of his reinstatement?
“We learned of it this morning, officially, that this morning that Tanard Jackson would be able and eligible to be reinstated as of 4:00 today. Once that came across the NFL waiver wire that’s when it made it 100 percent official. But I heard from the league office this morning.”
How soon do you think Tanard will be ready to play football?
“I’ll leave that up to Coach [Raheem] Morris and what he does on the practice field, over the next four or five days … the next basically two weeks to see what he can do. The moment we feel he is able to help this football team, he will be on the football team helping us prepare and hopefully helping us win games.”
With the loss of Cody Grimm are you fortunate to have Jackson back?
“Well, obviously losing a guy like Cody Grimm has an impact on our football team. Tanard has not played football in 56 weeks, has not practiced very much at all in terms of real football drills and so it going to be an opportunity to get back out there and show that memory muscle hasn’t been lost. And what he can do to help this football team has to be significant enough for us to want to activate him.”
Tanard has already had a couple situations (with substance abuse) what is it about him that makes you want to activate him?
“Fair question. For me, the substance of this policy is very private. I know that Tanard is going to talk a little bit about it. But the fact that I know he has been in treatment, that is a big step in terms of recovery. I know the NFL Commissioner, as well as the league offices, feel like we have gotten to this stage here he can be reinstated, gave us the confidence to obviously welcome him back to this football team.”
What is your trust level?
“Our trust level is actually very high. I had a chance to obviously be around Tanard since we drafted him as an organization back in 2007. I feel like again, knowing what he has gone through, now that I have been up to date on as well, what he has done to get himself to this point speaks volumes to how important this is for him – both personally and professionally.”
Jackson took to the podium after Dominik and shared his thoughts on being away from the organization.
What is it like being back?
“It is good to be back. Fifty-six weeks. Wow.”
How ready do you think you are to play for this team?
“I’m anxious. Very excited. Just willing to do whatever it takes at this point to help this team.”
Tell us about the process and what you have learned?
“Without going into a lot of detail, I was in treatment. I did a stint in treatment that I needed and was required for reinstatement. That is all I can get into on that.”
What activities have you been doing?
“Working out. In treatment I was able to go to the gym do some things to try and stay in as best shape as possible with the resources I had at the time.”
Can you put into words what being out of the league has been like?
“It’s tough. You build a lot of relationships. From your teammates on up. Being away from those guys and not being able to be in contact with them was difficult. It was a long period where I couldn't besides the [unofficial Bucs mini-camp in Brandenton in June] I was able to attend, which was very beneficial to me. It allowed me to see how much I missed it.
Where are you at now?
“Trying to move forward. Being accountable. As we all know just trying to earn the trust back. It is not something that is going to be done overnight. Not something that is going to be done in a year. It is going to be (held) accountable to those that supported me through this.”
What do you think of this football team?
“I like it. Young. Energetic. Knows how to win.”
Did the lockout affect this process?
“It slowed the progress down and is out of my control. I wouldn’t say that. Because again, it is a league matter. As both you and I know, there is only so much I could do. But I think it worked out well.”
What does it say about this organization to welcome you back?
“It's hard to express that in words. This organization survived me through a lot. All I can say is I’m proud to have those guys in my corner.”