I had an opportunity to speak with Gayle Jackson, DeSean Jackson’s mother, after a private screening of the documentary “The Making of a Father’s Dream,” which was released on Father’s Day, June 2013. How did it feel to relive such emotional moments in her family’s history, and for the world to be see such a different side of her NFL star son?
The film is the product of 18 years of footage taken by Byron Jackson, DeSean’s older brother, from when DeSean was just five years old through his time in the NFL. Byron joined up with Kip (producer) and Kern (director) Konwiser to shape the footage into the compelling story presented in “A Father’s Dream.” But in addition to their collective talents, Mrs. Jackson believes that a higher power had a hand in bringing the film to life.
Even while his father, Bill Jackson, was dying, Byron said in the film, he was compelled to keep taking footage, though he didn’t know why. It was a sort of therapy to help him come to terms with the quick and fatal reality that was the pancreatic cancer that ultimately took his father’s life. Ultimately, the family was too close to the story to see the powerful messages contained in the footage. Said Gayle of the years of footage and how she reacted when presented with the idea of the documentary,
“God puts you in touch with who you need. I say it was spiritual. He [Byron] got put in touch with Kip and Kern [Konwiser], and they were able to take what Byron had and put it in such a way to present this story. There was a void of positive black role models, all these guys [in Team Jackson] didn’t have fathers in their lives and Bill was the father figure. It all got put together in to what you see [in the film], and it’s a message now. It’s bigger than you can ever imagine.”
The very fact that the tidbits of their lives came together to form such a cohesive, powerful story—about a father’s love for his family and a shared passion to fulfill a dream—was more than just the talent of the filmmakers, in Mrs. Jackson’s mind.
“Sometimes you don’t always know what you want to do with your life, but, if you have faith and believe and line yourself up and do what God says you’re supposed to do, then he’ll order your steps. I really believe that this project was almost predestined. Somehow, it’s like Bill knew. He’s not here anymore so he made all of these predictions. We thought he was crazy. We thought he was out of his mind. We didn’t know but he knew. It took his passing to figure it out.”
In telling its compelling tale, the film shows another side of DeSean Jackson than we’ve seen previously. Any good documentary explores and uncovers different sides of its subjects, and “A Father’s Dream” is no different. But what does it feel like to see her son exposed in such a different light, contrary to what many perceive of the confident NFL star?
I think it will clear up some of those misconceptions…When I hear those comments, I think, We know the truth. A lot of those things that people say, like he’s cocky, he’s this, he’s that—they don’t know the real DeSean. And if you knew the real DeSean you wouldn’t say those things. So I have to kind of dismiss it, turn my ear to it and turn a blind eye to it, because we know the truth. This kid has the biggest heart. If he could help everyone in the whole wide world he would do it.
“The Making of a Father’s Dream” is now available and can be seen on onDemand, Comcast, Verizon Fios, and other cable systems around the country. Please check your local listings for details.
– Brandyn Campbell, Editor, Sports Muse
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