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Eddie Jackson had a solid collegiate football career at Arkansas that he parlayed into a brief NFL career. But he also loved entertaining and cooking and decided to take off the helmet and pads and wear an apron instead.
The former NFL cornerback who played for the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots from 2004 to 2007 turned to the culinary arts full time after his days on the gridiron were over. He went from cooking in food trucks to emerging as a top chef on the Food Network.
“With me, I grew up in a household where my grandmothers were chefs. When I started cooking, I was like 5 years old, started making biscuits with my grandmother,” Jackson explained to Fox News Digital in a recent interview.
“For me, once I got done playing sports, I knew I wanted to do something with food. So, I started out catering and doing all these events and things like that. And it kinda led me to getting a food truck, and that led me to trying out for ‘Food Network Star,’ and I won ‘Food Network Star.’
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“And that’s how I got onto Food Network seven years ago, and I’ve been with them for seven years. Lotta shows hosted and judged and all kinds of things. And it’s been a beautiful relationship.”
Jackson said he got into the food service business at Arkansas.
“In college, I used to sell plates to my teammates to get pocket change, and I still cooked when I got into the NFL. I love to entertain. For me, entertaining is everything. That’s why I created the book and that’s what I love to do,” he told Fox News Digital.
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Jackson recently partnered with the Whirlpool brand to help cook up one of his signature game day recipes — air-fried spicy chicken Parmesan wings. He said using Whirlpool’s air fry mode in its smart appliances helped him cut down on cook time and even helped him eat healthier.
“Game day, for me, is something that’s special. I created a whole cookbook about cooking for game day, home-gating. So the partnership between Whirlpool is a beautiful thing because sports and food go hand in hand, and I love to entertain, bring friends together,” he said.
Jackson added that the Yummly smart thermometer was also something he used, especially when cooking big cuts of meat.
“I love when I can take big cuts of meat and do different things with it, whether I take a whole brisket and cook it really slowly and make tacos out of it or I can take prime rib and cook it a lot quicker and have kind of like this over-the-top kind of game day meal, which I love to do,” Jackson said.
Even while being away from the NFL, Jackson is still keeping a close eye on the league. There are plenty of contenders for the Super Bowl this upcoming season.
The former player pointed to the Buffalo Bills as one team that could possibly go all the way.
“I feel like it’s going to be a few teams this year that are gonna be some surprises. The last couple of years everybody keeps saying, but I feel like this year they have a really good chance. That defense is really coming along, and I think that Josh Allen, this could be his year,” Jackson said.
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“But then you got some young teams out there, with young quarterbacks as well, like the Arizona Cardinals, that I have high hopes for as well. So it will be a very interesting year. I don’t think it’s gonna be the Rams or Buccaneers or Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. I think it’s going to be somebody new and fresh this year, which would be really good for the NFL.”
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