I don’t think any of us saw this one coming.
On Monday, ESPN reports that former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson was found dead in a Florida hotel room. He was 38.
His body was discovered at approximately 11:30 a.m. ET on Monday at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, Fla. While the cause of death has yet to be determined, police reported that there were no apparent signs of trauma. As a result, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has opened an investigation into the matter.
According to hotel staff, Jackson, who is a South Tampa resident, checked into the hotel on Jan. 11 and had been staying in a room since that date.
Jackson’s family reported him missing on Wednesday and a formal report was filed Thursday, but police located Jackson at the Homewood Suites on Friday. The missing persons case was canceled after Jackson’s well-being was confirmed.
Jackson is not only remembered for his prolific career on the field—in 12 seasons, he recorded 57 touchdowns and six 1,000-yard seasons—but his generosity and goodwill off of it. He was nominated by the Buccaneers for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award four years in a row, won the NFL’s Salute to Service Award in 2015, and founded the non-profit Jackson in Action 83 to provide military families with much-needed resources and support. That endeavor included reading to children, arranging charity games to raise money for military families, awarding college scholarships, and hosting baby showers for military moms.
Simply put, he was a consummate professional and pretty much wrote the blueprint for how professional athletes are expected to conduct themselves off of the field. Needless to say, his death has sent shockwaves throughout the NFL community as his former teams, teammates, and friends struggle to make sense of his unexpected passing.
“We are shocked and added to hear the terrible news regarding the loss of Vincent Jackson,” the Bucs wrote in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Lindsey, and the entire Jackson family.”
“Jack was more than a teammate to me, he was my friend,” former teammate Gerald McCoy tweeted. “He was one of the first people to teach me the difference in a professional and a pro. More importantly, he was a great man. He made it his mission to make others smile. Gonna miss you bro. Love you Jack!”
“I am saddened by the news I just received about my brother Vincent Jackson,” future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis tweeted. “Off-season training we pushed each other to become better players. So grateful to have teamed up with you for a year in Tampa Bay. My sincerest condolences goes to the family. We will miss you. #RIP”
In expressing his own condolences, NFL reporter Field Yates made it a point to highlight Jackson’s contributions off the field.
“While many will remember Vincent Jackson as a three-time Pro Bowl WR that had many great on-field moments for the Chargers and Bucs, he made a massive last impact off the field too,” he tweeted. “His foundation @JIA83Foundation did great work to assist military families. RIP”
Jackson is survived by his wife, Lindsey, and their four children.