Former NFL pro Nate Jackson spent nearly a decade in pads before becoming a full-time writer. His lauded first book mixed snarky prose with insider knowledge, while his latest read, Fantasy Man, probes his all new obsession: fantasy football.
Men's Fitness: You’ve won your fantasy football league twice. What’s your secret?
NJ: Play with your heart and draft the people you want. Forget about the advice of the little experts. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I just like to draft guys I like, guys I used to play with—my buddies.
Men's Fitness: In your first book, Slowly Getting Up, there are a lot of willing women. Has fantasy football ever gotten you laid?
NJ: [Laughs] No, not at all. At least not yet. I guess now that I’ve written a book about it, that might change.
Men's Fitness: You have the best take on fantasy I’ve ever heard: “If you have something better to do, you will fail.”
NJ: It’s true. Think about all the hours being wasted every year in America with men studying their fantasy lineups. I wonder how much money and resources have been blown.
Men's Fitness: But you still keep fit, even describing the gym as your “church.” What’s your workout like?
NJ: When you play in the NFL, you’re a trained killer. Now, going to the gym can remind me of that power. I lift weights and do a lot of core work, plus the jump rope, punching bag, intervals on an uphill treadmill...No matter how bad my body hurts, when I make the decision to exercise, this switch flips in my mind and I lose myself in the workout. It can be very meditative.
Men's Fitness: How do you handle the chronic pain?
NJ: Pain has been a constant in my life. Pain is my best friend, and it’s also a teacher. It’s given me something to overcome, and made me mentally strong. Football players are all like that, because how you react to pain determines how far you make it.