Catching Up with Former Reps: Tyoka Jackson
Former NFL defensive end Tyoka Jackson spent 12 seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, and Detroit Lions. He began his career as a standout on defense at Penn State. During his collegiate career, Jackson twice led his team in sacks and graduated as the school’s second all- time leader in sacks. He was also chosen for Penn State’s All-Decade teams for the 1990’s. We caught up with Tyoka and he gave us insight into his life during and after football.
Q: What is your current career?
I’m an entrepreneur and a broadcaster. I own a couple IHOP restaurants and a real estate development company. I also call college football games on ESPN.
Q: How would you describe your experience leaving the game?
Because I came into the game as an undrafted free agent, I learned pretty quickly that I was the most expendable guy on the roster. I knew I needed to plan for the day when I would leave the game immediately. I was able to work hard enough and get into the right situation.
By the time the game came to an end I was fortunate enough to leave on my terms. I had a year left on my deal in Detroit, but I was ready to move on. I had an opportunity business wise coming up with one of my IHOP franchises and decided to leave that way. I know I’m fortunate in that regard. Most of us don’t get that opportunity to leave on our own terms but I was able to do that partly because I planned for this far in advance.
Q: What are you most proud of during your time as a player rep?
I would say being able to give information to the guys. I was able to persuade guys to pursue certain services that they normally would’ve had zero interest in taking advantage of. Mostly due to the fact of how I would explain it to them. I feel good about helping guys understand what was available to them through the Players Association and taking full advantage of it. It’s like the old saying, “What you give grows and what you keep, dies.” I felt like I was always able to give the information that was given to me to the players, especially the younger guys.
Q: How has being a player rep impacted you personally & professionally?
It obviously impacted me personally because I learned more about what was available and what was out there. I learned more about the inner business side from a labor standpoint about the league that I never learned before. I made contacts with certain people that I’m still in contact with to this day. Some of the contacts that I’m still in touch with today were created at Player Rep meetings in Hawaii. I think it was very important to get that experience from the meeting and having to come back and display those leadership skills with my teammates. It helped me out during my transition from football to the business world. Having to deal with helping people see things that they don’t easily see themselves.
Q: What advice would you give to yourself looking back?
I learned the hard way that when it comes to money, slow and steady wins the race. You don’t have to try to hit big home runs when it comes to investing. I learned that nobody ever goes broke by taking profits. With the understanding that you don’t have to try and kill It on every single one, small wins add up.
I really want to continue to grow as a broadcaster, as an in-game sports analyst. I want to grow my career in that way and that’s sort of my final dream that I haven’t yet accomplished to the fullest extent. More Important than anything else is assisting my kids as they grow from young people into their teens and beyond. Being a father is the most important thing I do every single day.