Times Colonist

Jackson focused on task at hand

- LOWELL ULLRICH

VANCOUVER — Paris Jackson knows he gave it his best effort. Oh, how he tried.

Nobody on the B.C. Lions, it can be said with certainty, worked harder attempting to make Josh Boden grasp the requiremen­ts of playing football for a living.

They worked together, played together and on one memorable road trip last season, even dressed the same way. They were two Canadian receiving talents who had nothing but blue skies in the future. For now, there is only one.

Jackson showed up for his first day at the Lions training camp yesterday in Abbotsford, after attending the funeral of his grandmothe­r in Atlanta.

Boden, of course, wasn’t there, having been released May 14.

The 21-year-old will go to trial July 21 on assault, theft and mischief charges, and depending on the outcome his CFL career may be over. Jackson, among many others around the Lions, only wishes he could have made a more significan­t impression.

“I wanted to be a positive person in his life. I tried to be that strong backbone. I felt disappoint­ed he got kicked off the team, but I can’t control another person’s actions,” said Jackson.

“I hope he appreciate­s what I did for him and what others did for him. I just want to go down the right path. He chose his path. I chose mine. I feel sorry for him, but people make mistakes. I definitely feel sad.”

Scheduled to meet one day last month with coach Wally Buono, possibly to be given one last chance, Boden didn’t show.

Then there was Jackson, who hung around with Boden until last December before he too gave up. What Boden did not see is that if he needed a role model, he need not have looked further than his former teammate.

Somewhat withdrawn and measured upon doing interviews when he joined the Lions before the 2003 season, Jackson has undergone a complete turnaround that is reflected both in what he does on the field and what he says when speaking for public consumptio­n.

First-time fatherhood beckons for Jackson and his partner of five years, Susie Phi, in September. The prospect is not threatenin­g for the 27-year-old, but welcomed. To the Lions, it’s maturity developing before their eyes.

“In a lot of ways Paris has grown up,” Buono said.

At work, Jackson admits he still needs validation of topthree receiver status in the form of his first 1,000-yard receiving season.

He didn’t need to be reminded he promised to hit the four-digit mark last year, and didn’t deliver. But two minutes into his first interview this season, Jackson basically suggested there was no way he would fail this time.

Brash? Cocky? To Jackson, stating a standard of football measuremen­t is just a form of leadership.

“It feels good that all my hard work the last five years to fit in makes me feel like one of the leaders,” he said. “Being a leader is a big part of being a profession­al. Right now my number-one goal is being a leader.”

If only one of his former teammates got the same message.

 ??  ?? Lions receiver Paris Jackson took part in his first session at training camp yesterday in Abbotsford. Jackson is promising his first 1,000-yard season.
Lions receiver Paris Jackson took part in his first session at training camp yesterday in Abbotsford. Jackson is promising his first 1,000-yard season.

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