When the 2012 CFL season ended, Jarious Jackson
looked forward to helping the Toronto Argos win another Grey
But when his former B.C. team asked him if he wanted to become
the Lions' new quarterbacks coach, he could not say no.
"In my mind, I was still a player, and I was going to approach
this off-season and train just as hard as I normally do and
prepare for the upcoming season," he said. "But when I had to
sit and think about if I wanted to go into the coaching world,
that totally changed things."
Jackson, 35, signed a one-day contract with B.C. on Friday at
the CFL club's practice facility so that he could officially
retire as a Lion and take on his new role. He was hired after
Lions coach Mike Benevides approached him about two months ago
to discuss the possibility of mentoring Lions starter Travis
Benevides wanted to fill the void created by the departure of
Lulay's backup Mike Reilly via trade to the Edmonton Eskimos.
Reilly, a close friend of Lulay, was an on-field confidant who
helped him dissect every play.
Benevides considered Reilly's departure inevitable and sought
Jackson, a former Lions backup QB who was an extremely popular
figure in the B.C. dressing room for six seasons, to fill that
Jackson left the Lions after he was released following their
2011 Grey Cup victory and played one season with Toronto. His
hiring will allow offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine to
spend more time with the team's young receiving corps.
(Receivers coach Travis Moore was let go because the team did
not have the budget for both him and Jackson.)
The Argos permitted Jackson to talk to the Lions while he was
still under contract to the Grey Cup champions. Toronto
subsequently granted him his release earlier this week to take
on the newly created B.C. position.
But Jackson, whose final career touchdown pass came in Toronto's
unexpected Grey Cup win over Calgary in November, had difficulty
"It's bittersweet to be hanging up the cleats and knowing that
[I'm] not going to be playing the game that I've grown to love
over my whole life," he said.
However, he is also grateful that his life in football can
continue at "home" with the Lions.
"I just wanted to make sure that this was something that I
really wanted to do, and I was going to be stepping into it with
both feet and, really, not halfway in," he said.
When asked to describe his coaching style, Jackson said he will
strive to be as honest as possible with quarterbacks. Lulay, who
played three seasons with Jackson, welcomes the forthcoming
No. 1 signal-caller
The Lions No. 1 signal-caller pushed for Jackson's hiring after
Benevides broached the idea of bringing in a new quarterbacks
"He's a guy I trust," said Lulay. "We've been teammates
together. We won a championship together [in 2011]. That was my
first year starting. He was huge in being a sounding board for
me and a guy who had been there and done it."
Lulay looks forward to gleaning info from Jackson on what he
learned while working with Argos quarterback Ricky Ray — someone
the Lions starter admires — and Toronto coach Scott Milanovich.
"I want to pick [Jackson's] brain a little bit and see what
those guys do well," said Lulay.
The Lions have three quarterbacks under contract. Thomas DeMarco,
who spent all first pro season with B.C. last year, and Jarrett
Brown, who joined the Lions practice roster late in the
campaign, will battle for No. 2 status. General manager Wally
Buono will likely bring in two more young quarterbacks for
Lulay did not want to discount DeMarco and Brown's pending
assistance, but noted they do not have the pro experience to
give him as much insight as possible. Jackson, a Tupelo, Miss.,
native won three Grey Cups over his seven CFL seasons and also
toiled with the NFL's Denver Broncos and NFL Europe's Barcelona
Dragons after starring at Notre Dame, where he set several
"You don't want to feel like you're playing the position by
yourself. ... I had a close relationship with [Jackson] and the
same with [Reilly] a year ago," said Lulay. "To have [Jackson's]
voice back, that's a good thing."
Lulay said Jackson can set realistic expectations and, if
necessary, lobby the coaching staff to do away with plays that
don't work. But Lulay also expects Jackson to demand a lot in
his new position.
"I want him to be hard on me," said Lulay. "I want him to be
critical and help me be a better player, and he will. That's how
we were as teammates."
Benevides said Jackson will offer Lulay another set of eyes,
while watching the quarterback on "every single play" as other
coaches must focus their attention elsewhere. Jackson will also
be able to help younger quarterbacks handle the stresses of the
"You want a leader and you want a teacher, because that's what
we are," said Benevides, explaining his decision to hire the new
QBs coach. "We're teachers, and this business is about people.
"When a guy is voted a captain, and he's not the starting
quarterback, that tells you a little bit about who is."