Former Longhorn Jackson Jeffcoat won’t consider leaving Winnipeg for the Riders: ‘That’d be like going to Norman, Oklahoma’

Photo courtesy: Texas Longhorns Athletics

After back-to-back Grey Cup victories, there are plenty of reasons why CFL all-star defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat chose to re-sign with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

There was a desire to keep winning, a dedication to his teammate and a love for the philosophy of the organization, but a sweet deal on housing played a not insignificant role in the decision.

Jeffcoat, who spends the off-season in his native Texas, paid just $800 a month rent last season to share a house with a teammate in the Manitoba capital. With housing prices skyrocketing across North America, you won’t find deals like that in most major cities.

“You can’t find that in Austin anymore,” Jeffcoat told Chris O’Connell of MySanAntonio.com during a visit to his college stomping grounds at the University of Texas last month.

Jeffcoat ultimately signed a deal with the Bombers worth $175,000, far less than he might have got on the open market. However, while considering his options Jeffcoat deemed the cost of living in most other CFL cities to be prohibitively expensive. Only one other market could compete, Regina, but turning traitor for the Riders was simply not on the table.

“I don’t want to go there!” Jeffcoat said. “That’d be like going to Norman, Oklahoma.”

Norman is the home of the Oklahoma Sooners, arch-rivals of Jeffcoat’s beloved Texas Longhorns. While many players have no issue leapfrogging from one side of a rivalry to the other, the defensive end isn’t one to trade in his burnt orange or his royal blue.

The Texas product originally signed with the Blue Bombers in 2017 following NFL stints with Seattle, Washington, and Cleveland. He has recorded 109 total tackles, 26 sacks, nine forced fumbles, and one interception over 52 career games.

The 31-year-old found new heights in 2021, recording a career-high nine sacks and four forced fumbles in just 12 regular season games. He was named a CFL all-star for the first time in his career, helping Winnipeg win a second consecutive Grey Cup.

Jeffcoat had an excellent performance in the 2019 Grey Cup, making four tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. He came up big in Winnipeg’s playoff run in 2021, making a sack and a forced fumble in the 2021 West Final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

None of those accomplishments have been enough to satisfy him.

“I wasn’t super happy about it,” Jeffcoat said. “I want to be Defensive Player of the Year. I want to have the sack title. And I want to win another Grey Cup. I mean, I think that we shouldn’t stop here.”

After his early CFL success he had hoped the NFL might come calling, but that door is now closed. His absence from the top league is “their loss,” not his, because he has rekindled his love affair with football in the CFL.

“I feel like in the NFL, I wasn’t loving it. It’s hard,” he explained. “You’re getting paid well in the NFL, but it’s so much more stressful than it is in the CFL. I actually feel like I love football when I’m playing in the CFL.”

The City of Winnipeg and the Blue Bombers organization have played a big part in that, but Jeffcoat did have one complaint about the city as he ate queso out of the Grey Cup.

“We can’t get any Tex-Mex out there.”