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67-Years-Old And Still Making The Call

GREENVILLE - John “Jet” Jackson, who turns 67 on June 22, shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to officiating football.

In August, Jackson will begin his 42nd year of officiating high school football. Jackson is a member of the Commerce Football Officials Association, a chapter of  the Texas Association of Sports Officials.  Jackson says his career started with youth football in San Angelo in 1971. 

“ I was working for the YMCA in San Angelo as physical director and was asked to officiate for the youth football program.  Since I was running the program it was easier for me to ref than to go out and find officials.  I was paid one dollar a game.”

Jackson quickly moved on to high school games in the San Angelo area and after moving to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1973, he began officiating football as a member of the Arkansas Officials Association.  While working for the Y in Little Rock as Physical Director he crossed paths with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Jones served as a coach for one of the Y’s youth football teams.

In 1976 Jackson began working for Spaulding Athletics in Little Rock.  He says that’s where he earned the nickname Jet.

“It had nothing to do with football. While working at Spaulding, Eddie Alpe one of my co-workers started calling me Jet.  It had something to do with the Jet Jackson Cartoons I believe.  Richard Ford, who also worked at Spaulding and also officiated started calling me the Jet and it spread among officials.  I thought I left the nickname behind in Arkansas, when I moved back to Texas.  But when I walked into my first football officials meeting, the first thing I hear was, 'It’s the Jet.' I looked and there set Wendell Hawkins, who I officiated tons of basketball with in Arkansas. So the nickname stuck in Texas too.”

Jackson officiated thirteen years in Arkansas and during that time he worked several junior high games at Scott Field in Little Rock with current NFL Referee Walt Coleman.  With 41 years of officiating in Arkansas and across Texas, Jackson has officiated 421 varsity games, not including the junior college games he officiated in the Southwest Junior College Conference over a span of 10 years. 

Jackson also has been officiating semi professional football on and off over the past 10 years.  He has officiated a semi-pro game almost every Saturday since the start of 2012 including Saturday’s South Texas Amateur Football Mesquite Conference Championship where the Killeen Revolution defeated the South Texas Generals 35-28 to advance to the STAF Championship game.  STAF is a spring semi-pro league based out of San Antonio and is in its fourth season.   Jackson is also scheduled to officiate a Gridiron Development Football League game on Saturday June 23 in Shreveport.  The GDFL is a summer semi-pro league based out of Memphis, Tennessee and is in its third year.

Jackson’s fondest memory of officiating is the 2003 SJCC Conference Championship game, where Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College defeated Tyler Junior College 37-34.

Anyone interested in officiating Texas high school football can visit the CFOA website or TASO.org.