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The Globe and Mail

Paris Jackson heads to Ottawa with something to prove

B.C. Lions' wide receiver Paris Jackson makes a reception during football practice in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday November 15, 2011.


Paris Jackson says the way his time with his hometown B.C. Lions ended left him with a chip on his shoulder.

Now, after 11 seasons in Vancouver, Jackson is heading east to rejuvenate his career.

The 33-year-old wide receiver signed with the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks in the off-season looking to prove he's still capable of making a valuable contribution both on and off the field.

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"That's why I came here," Jackson said. "My family knew I wasn't too happy in Vancouver any more, not having a role and not really knowing what was going on and just playing kind of spur of the moment and not getting many reps.

"I needed a new spark in my career."

Jackson was one of the Lions' most consistent receivers. His best season was in 2008 when he caught 76 passes for 1,180 yards and eight touchdowns, and was named a CFL West all-star.

In 2009 Jackson moved to slotback, and recorded his second straight 1,000-yard season.

In 2010 Jackson saw his receiving numbers decrease as he was hampered by injuries, and from that point on was relegated to a backup role with the Lions leading to frustration and disappointment.

He used sparingly in his final three seasons in Vancouver before being released by the Lions.

"I knew I still had a lot more athletic ability and a lot more plays to make before I retire," Jackson said. "I knew Ottawa was coming back in the league and I tried to be patient and not show all my cards, but at the end of the day I really wanted to come here because I knew I could help out a lot of young receivers."

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While his role with the RedBlacks has yet to be determined, head coach Rick Campbell says he's been impressed with Jackson's work both on and off the field.

"He's in a competition to win a job and he's been doing a great job so far both on the field with his play and trying to be a leader trying to lead the way for some of the younger guys," said Campbell. "He's looking good. Paris has been a good player in this league for a long time and I don't think he's done yet."

Retribution can be a great motivating factor and it's clear Jackson wants to prove he's still a playmaker.

"I have a chip on my shoulder," Jackson said. "I wasn't beat out in Vancouver. They just gave someone my spot. Coming off an 800-yard season and two back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards and they just gave a young guy my spot. I'm old school and believe you should have to earn my spot."

Jackson says the situation with the Lions didn't sit well with him, but he swallowed his pride, as he knew he was fortunate to still be playing in front of family and friends. But he still believed he could have an impact given the opportunity and that's exactly what he plans on doing in Ottawa.

Quarterback Henry Burris believes Jackson has a lot to offer and even went as far as calling the receiver during the off-season and encouraging him to consider Ottawa as a destination.

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Burris sees no reason why Jackson can't excel and strongly believes the two can be a force for the RedBlacks.

"I've already told him I'm leaning on him this year," said Burris. "When you look at experience he's our leader on our receiving core. The guy's a playmaker and I can't wait to get going with him because I've seen his potential and the things that he's done in the past, killing us when I played for different team's going against BC. He just needed a chance to play and now he's getting that opportunity."

Burris says he's spoken at great length with Jackson and sees a renewed passion.

"He's coming in full steam ahead," said Burris. "He plays with a level of passion you only see the great's play with. He's chomping at the bit right now."

Jackson appreciates having Burris in his corner.

"When you have your quarterback on board and he knows where you're supposed to be and you know that the ball's going to come it just makes things that much more exciting," Jackson said.

While Jackson was determined to keep playing he says his two young children, a five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, played a big factor in his decision to sign with Ottawa.

"They've had opportunities to see me play, but I really want them to relish and understand how much I put forward in my career to try and solidify my family for the rest of their life," he said. "I also want them to have memories of me playing for the rest of their life and not just being on special teams."

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