TAMPA — Vincent Jackson, the former Bucs and Chargers receiver, was found dead Monday in a Brandon hotel where he had been living since January. He was 38.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, members of Jackson’s family called the department to say he was missing. A formal missing person’s report was filed Thursday. The next day, deputies located Jackson at the Homewood Suites in Brandon and spoke with him. After assessing his well being, the case was canceled.
But on Monday, a housekeeper at the hotel found Jackson dead in his room around 11:30 a.m. There were no apparent signs of trauma, the sheriff’s office said. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause of death.
Jackson, who was as known in Tampa Bay for his charitable endeavors as his accomplishments on the football field, is survived by wife Lindsey and four children.
“We are all mourning the loss of our beloved Vincent,” said Allison Stokes Gorrell, a Jackson family spokesperson. “His wife and family ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time.”
The Bucs organization, as well as former and current players reacted to the news with shock and sadness, but remembered Jackson as an extraordinary person and player.
“During his five seasons with our franchise, Vincent was a consummate professional, who took a great deal of pride in his performance on and off the football field,” Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer said in a statement. “Vincent was a dedicated father, husband, businessman and philanthropist, who made a deep impact on our community through his unyielding advocacy for military families, supported by the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation.”
Jackson was a three-time Pro Bowl receiver who signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Bucs in 2012 as a free agent from the Chargers. He had 540 career receptions for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns.
A team captain, Jackson was one of the most respected players in club history for his determination and calm demeanor. But it was his activism in the community that separated him from a lot of players.
“It pains me to see this happen to such a great person at such a young age,” former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said in a text to the Tampa Bay Times. “A person who was more than a football player, he was a great husband and father who spent his life trying to help other people. Spreading love and joy and doing everything in his power to make the next man smile. Somebody I considered to be more than a teammate, he was truly a friend and one of my mentors in my young age of the NFL.
“My nickname for him was ‘the ultimate pro’ because he did everything right. Off the field, nutrition, taking care of his body, working out, offseason, practice habits and especially on game day. He was a true example of how we should be as professionals and more importantly men. He will truly be missed!! Love you Jack!!”
Said Bucs tight end Cameron Brate, a teammate of Jackson’s for three seasons: “Vincent made a profound impact on everyone in the locker room and so many people in the community. He will truly be missed.”
The son of a military family, Jackson made an instant connection with the Tampa Bay community, which is home to MacDill Air Force Base.
Both of Jackson’s parents served in the U.S. Armed Forces and he sponsored military families at every Bucs home game through the Jackson in Action Front Row Fans section at Raymond James Stadium. In fact, Jackson won the Bucs’ Man of the Year honor four years in a row from 2013-16.
Jackson had written a series of Danny Dogtags children’s books, giving guidance to kids of military families who moved frequently.
“My heart aches for the many loved ones Vincent Jackson leaves behind, from his wife and children to the Buccaneers nation that adored him,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “Mr. Jackson was a devoted man who put his family and community above everything else.
“Family aside, he touched countless lives through his Jackson in Action 83 Foundation. We shared a passion for supporting military families, and three years ago, Jackson was even made an honorary deputy by the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office to recognize his dedication to the community. He will be sorely missed by not only football fans across the country but also the people here in Hillsborough County who reaped the benefits of his generous contributions.”
Jackson was a mentor to many Bucs players, including receiver Mike Evans, the team’s first-round pick in 2014. “V Jax, thank you for everything I love you big bro,” Evans tweeted. “Praying for your family. Rest in Paradise.”
A second-round pick of the Chargers in 2005 out of Northern Colorado, the 6-foot-5 Jackson had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2008-09. He was arrested twice for a DUI while with the Chargers, in 2006 and three years later. He was suspended the first three games to start the 2010 season for violating the personal conduct policy, but had no similar issues with the Bucs.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by news of Vincent Jackson’s sudden passing,” the Chargers said in a statement. “Vincent was a fan favorite, not only for his Pro Bowl play on the field but for the impact he made on the community off of it. The work he has done on behalf of military families through his foundation in the years since his retirement has been an inspiration to all of us. We simply cannot believe he’s gone.”
Since his retirement, Jackson was very active in the business community as a restaurant owner.
He was an owner/partner of Cask Social Kitchen, a south Tampa restaurant on Howard Avenue that he opened in 2015. He also was vice president of the Callaloo Group, which was giving a facelift to the historic Manhattan Casino’s Food Hall in St. Petersburg’s Midtown.
In 2016, Jackson completed his bachelor of science degree from USF’s Muma College of Business where he took classes for two years.