The 13-year Saint was a devastating linebacker in the Saints' 3-4 defense. He left the team after the 1993 season and won a Super Bowl as a 36-year old starter at defensive end for the 49ers. His 115 career sacks are a Saints record, and his 128 career sacks are good for 10th on the NFL's All-Time list.
From the New York Times:
Rickey Jackson was more than just a ferocious pass rusher. That, by itself, wouldn’t be enough. As a strongside linebacker in the Saints’ 3-4 defense, Jackson maintained good leverage against the tight end. He avoided being hooked and used his hands well in effectively shedding blockers to prevent the running back from turning the corner (“setting the edge”). Jackson also excelled in pass coverage when called upon, showing good range and lateral movement. He was around the ball all the time, was an explosive tackler, and played with great energy and enthusiasm. Jackson was an outstanding all-around linebacker whose on-field performance merits a place in the Hall.From Pro Football Reference:
When we compare him to other linebackers using the Approximate Value method, his career total of 155... ranks very favorably for induction. He is 9th all-time, and everyone ahead of him is either in the Hall of Fame or will be soon after they become eligible. He ranks ahead of thirteen linebackers already in Canton...
So what is it that AV "sees" about Jackson? When he was on teams that had very few good players, the defense still performed at an above average level and Jackson was recognized as the best player. When he was on teams that had multiple stars on defense, those teams were elite with Jackson in the lineup. A player who seemed to always make the defensive teams he played with better seems to indicate a Hall of Fame talent to me.
In 2010, he's finally getting recognized as a finalist, and it seems fitting that it is occurring in a year when the franchise he helped change from doormat to respectable NFL franchise is making its first appearance in the Super Bowl...
He should be in eventually, if not this year.