By TEDDY ALLEN, Opinion
Courtesy of recently retired NFL stud J.J. Watt and USAA, Sgt. Jackson Bond will leave Fort Bragg in North Carolina tomorrow for Glendale, Ariz. and Super Bowl LVII weekend, including Sunday’s game that kicks off at 5:30 p.m. between Philadelphia and Kansas City.
Bond, 26 and a Dallas native, is getting the first-class treatment because he was recently named Paratrooper of the Year for the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne.
That’s Paratrooper of the Year out of 30,000 service members in that group.
Not sure … but I think that’s pretty good. Right?
His daddy, John, is a friend of mine from Claiborne Parish. John went to Louisiana Tech from 1981 to 1984, moved to Dallas, met Jackson’s mom while getting his degree at Baylor College of Dentistry, and there you go.
“Jackson bounced around in college, chasing baseball” as a left-handed knuckleballer, his dad said. He ended up graduating from Cal State in Los Angeles and, when the pandemic slowed down the application process for him to pursue a career in the U.S. Secret Service, Jackson decided on Plan B: enlist in the Army — he did in July 2020 — with the goal of serving in Special Forces.
So for the past couple of years while I have been taking out the trash and filling up the car and going to the grocery store, Jackson and his friends have been completing Ranger School.
Following that accomplishment last March, Bond and his brothers in (hang with me for a second here) Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 73rd Calvary Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team duked it out in the 82nd Airborne Division’s Best Squad competition last summer.
Mission Accomplished. Charlie Troop was named the division’s best brigade and squad, and after some interviews and input from senior leaders, Bond had earned the 82nd’s equivalent of the Lombardi Trophy.
In interviews with some national outlets last week, Jackson thanked his Army brothers who “worked their hearts out” during the competition, and he applauded the “fantastic leadership” in his unit.
“Everyone’s been so supportive,” he said. And he added that finding out a Super Bowl trip came with the honor was “probably one of the coolest moments in my life,” one that “caught him off guard.”
Catching an Army Ranger off guard isn’t easy to do, but finding out you’ll be attending your first ever Super Bowl will do that to a guy. His Dallas Cowboys won’t be there, but Jackson will be — and his brother Jared, 16 months younger, will be his guest, also compliments of Watt and USAA.
Jared will drive over from San Diego where he is an entrepreneur, same as his dad is now. John left dentistry and moved back to Claiborne Parish in 2020 where he leads two companies, Total Health Heroes Foundation — a health/fitness community— along with the “cartoon” part of the brand, which focuses on children’s health.
A former Haynesville High quarterback under legendary Tors coach Red Franklin should have no trouble running two companies, right? Especially after being a part of raising two boys.
“I was always conscious of raising them to be country boys, whether it was going to the lake, camping, riding four-wheelers … Jackson really took a liking to shooting, not so much hunting but more target shooting, which he really excelled at. He’s just always loved the outdoors; I feel all those experiences really help teach you how to be a man.
“Dallas is a great city,” he said, “but at least for me and the boys, that north Louisiana country boy stuff has its perks too.”
One more thing about Jackson: he loves studying the past, impressed his officers with the ease he felt in talking to them about military history, was an A-plus student in college, and even speaks German, something he did NOT learn in Claiborne Parish. (Felt I should add that as ‘Full Disclosure,’ since I’m a former resident of the place; we’re good, but not ‘We speak German’ good.)
So, without the Cowboys but with his little brother, Jackson will enjoy Sunday’s Super Bowl, a well-deserved, definitely earned trip.
I think I’ll root for the Eagles Sunday. I know I’ll root for Jackson forever.
Contact Teddy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MamaLuvsManning.