Honoring Khyree Jackson with an Old Kwesi Quote

NCAA Football: Portland St. at Oregon
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, I don’t know a ton about Khyree Jackson, who passed away at 24 over the weekend. I learned some through Josh Frey and Janik Eckardt in their writing for PurplePTSD; I do know that what happened was terribly tragic.

Over the past couple days, I’ve been reflecting on what occurred and trying to find some words that would make sense to write. Truth be told, these articles are difficult to venture into, but I wanted to offer something as a bit of a tribute, however meagre and insufficient when placed against the depth of the loss, before moving onto other topics.

Football, of course, isn’t nearly as important as a young man’s life, but a major part of Jackson’s story involves football. Hopefully, spending some time discussing Jackson and the sport will help to reveal a little about what made him special. To help with the task, I’m reaching into a quote from Kwesi Adofo-Mensah from back in May.

Khyree Jackson as a Fiery Competitor

At least part of the reason why Minnesota was attracted to the young corner was due to his competitiveness.

In May, there was a sitdown interview involving Tatum Everett and the Vikings’ GM. Adofo-Mensah was moving through each draft pick in quick succession while offering short thoughts, and his answer about Jackson was fascinating: “Check your chiclets. That’s a phrase we used to use in basketball for a guy who wants to get up in your face and guard you a little bit.” The GM goes on to describe how “that’s the type of guy, mindset you love at cornerback.”

Oct 21, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks linebacker Jeffrey Bassa (2) defensive back Khyree Jackson (5) down a punt inside the 5 yard line during the second quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson, per Adofo-Mensah, was special because he was capable of taking a “next rep is mine” mentality and who could “line up for the next play.”

For a corner, those are tremendous compliments. It’s easy to see why Minnesota liked him. He was a fiery, gritty, competitive player, all attributes that can allow a corner to shine.

After the news emerged, Adofo-Mensah released a statement where he expressed being “heartbroken” while stating that Jackson’s “story was one of resilience.” Kevin O’Connell described the young corner’s “contagious energy” and belief that Jackson would have “develop[ed] into a tremendous professional football player.” Mark and Zigy Wilf pointed toward him being “a tremendous person” and as someone who had “an extremely bright future.”

NCAA Football: Oregon at Arizona State
Nov 18, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Elijhah Badger (2) attempts to catch a pass against Oregon Ducks defensive back Khyree Jackson (5) in the first half at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL account also released a statement: “The NFL family is deeply saddened and [devastated] by the passing of Vikings rookie Khyree Jackson. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, loved ones and everybody involved in this tragic accident.”

The toughness that we’ve been discussing is woven into the defender’s story. Consider just a brief clip released from Oregon’s football program to help illustrate what we’re discussing:

Once again, I send along my deepest condolences to Khyree Jackson’s family, friends, and to the Minnesota Vikings. Some things are more important than football and a young man’s life certainly qualifies, so it’s with deep humility and respect that I offer this post alongside my sympathies.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.