DALLAS — In December 1986, Andrew Jackson, Jr. relocated from Memphis to the Dallas area, where he took over as pastor of West Irving Church of God In Christ.
An avid Dallas Cowboy fan, Jackson has had the luxury of crossing paths with a number of former NFL players, several of whom have visited his church.
Come Friday, another former NFL great will make his way to West Irving.
Nate Newton, who played 14 NFL seasons as an offensive lineman, including a 12-year stint with the Cowboys, will be the keynote speaker for West Irving’s annual Men’s Conference. Accompanied by the theme, “A Man After God’s Own Heart,” the event will begin Friday at 7 p.m. at 4011 Conflans Road in Irving and will culminate with a Financial Literacy Workshop Saturday at 8 a.m.
The two-day conference is free and open to the public.
A third-generation preacher, Jackson first met Newton in 2006 while in Miami with his son to attend the FedEx Orange Bowl. The two have since established a solid rapport, in large part because Jackson followed Newton when he played for the Cowboys from 1986-1998.
“I got personally acquainted with him during the Orange Bowl,” Jackson said of Newton. “He was one of the best (linemen) in the NFL.”
Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Washington Redskins in 1983, Newton was released by the team hours after he was involved in a serious car accident. Still, the Orlando, Fla. native enjoyed a stellar professional career that was highlighted by three Super Bowl titles and six Pro Bowl selections, including five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 1994 to 1998.
Prior to joining Dallas, Newton played one season with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the now-defunct United States Football League (USFL).
Following a lengthy stint with the Cowboys, Newton, a former Florida A&M star, played one year with the Carolina Panthers before calling it a career following the 1999 season.
According to Jackson, that the 52-year-old Newton will share his life experiences during West Irving’s men conference is indicative of how he managed to persevere, particularly when he went undrafted and was released by the Redskins 31 years ago.
“Nate has a testimony of restoration, which is a great example of how Christ can restore you even after we falter in life,” Jackson said. “With so many of our youth going through challenges in life with peer pressure, Nate’s testimony can serve as a reminder to young people to stay focused on their goals and don’t get distracted by the temptations of the devil.”