Jamal Anderson's Bio
Jamal Anderson was born September 30, 1974, in Orange, New Jersey. Son of James and Zenobia Anderson, who had nine children. James, a former Newark police officer, became the premier security consultant specializing in sports and entertainment figures.
A graduate of El Camino Real high school in Woodland Hills, CA. Jamal then Attended Moorpark (CA) College for two years. From Moorpark CC Jamal earned a scholarship to the University of Utah (Salt Lake City) where he would graduate with a BS in sociology.
Captain of the football team at El Camino Real High School as senior, was All-State, All-League, All-Region, All-Valley, LA Times @ LA Daily News All-Star choice, and Most Valuable Player. At Utah, was an All-WAC conference pick in 1993, Rushing for 1243 yards, and averaging 5.7 yards per carry while gaining 242 yards on 35 pass receptions. Drafted in 1994 by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round. Became a starter in the 1996 season, and immediately proved to be one of the NFL's most dominant backs, running for over 1,000 yards that season and again in 1997. Jamal was only the third Falcon running back to pass 1,000 yards in successive years. In 1998, rushed for 1,846 yards, caught passes for another 319, and was All-Pro for first time. Rushing yardage was second only to Denver's Terrell Davis, who broke 2,000. He established a new NFL record with his 410 carries. Jamal was the central force in garnering the Falcons' first division title in 18 years, in addition to the Falcons only Super Bowl appearance.
As the steamroller running back for the Atlanta Falcons, Jamal quickly became a National Football League superstar. At the time Jamal's 1,846 rushing yards was the seventh-best all-time total in NFL history.
Anderson is nearly as well known for his personality as for his rushing power. Having grown up surrounded by many of the world's most high-powered celebrities including Muhammad Ali, Richard Pryor, Mike Tyson, and Michael Jackson he takes to the limelight like a natural entertainer. Supremely confident, talkative, friendly, cocky, and witty, Anderson was a journalist's dream come true. Fortunately, he delivers his bluster with a pinch of self-parody, enough so he always remains likeable. As one of his teammates has said, the braggadocio is just Anderson's ''shtick.''
On the field Jamal gained notoriety for creating and popularizing the Falcons' 'Dirty Bird' celebration dance.
While Jamal did not possess pure breakaway speed, his low center of gravity and tremendous power (he can squat 670 pounds, and bench 465) made him exceedingly tough and damaging to tackle. Jamal had a brutally effective stiff-arm technique that can sledgehammer a defender or two in an instant. Moreover, he has surprisingly quick moves for a 6', 240-pound juggernaut. Anderson was a superb receiver. He is the type of runner who strikes fear in the souls of defenses.
As Atlanta head coach Dan Reeves (another major factor in the team's miraculous turnaround from '96 to `98) told The Sporting News, ''He's an extremely powerful runner and he's got great hands. He's also got unbelievable confidence in himself.'' Quoted in CNN Sports Illustrated, Reeves also said, ''To combine the power he has with the quickness, well, there's not many people that size who can make people miss. And when he does get tackled, he's hard to bring down.'' As Reeves put it in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, ''he doesn't give you much of a target to hit. All you see is helmet, shoulder pads, and knees, and those things are no fun to hit.''
A Family Accustomed to Greatness
Jamal's father, James Anderson, met Muhammad Ali in 1970 at a national Muslim convention in Chicago, where he had been assigned to provide security for the boxing great. Once Ali and James Anderson (a former Newark police officer and a lieutenant at Mosque 25) bonded, James began his illustrious career as security man to African American sports luminaries and entertainers. The family moved from New Jersey to Woodland Hills, California, in 1980 and James Anderson's roster of clients over the years has included Sugar Ray Leonard, Donna Summer, Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men and Mike Tyson among many others.
Growing up in such an environment was something of a modern fairy tale. ''Uncle Muhammad'' would entertain Jamal and his seven siblings with magic tricks when he would visit. Donna Summer read him bedtime stories. Jamal was always a fixture in Sugar Ray and Mike Tyson's locker rooms after world championship bouts. Jim Brown (Jamal's greatest sports hero, to whom he paid permanent tribute by switching to jersey number 32 when he was eight years old) would show up at Jamal's Pop Warner games. Byron Scott, the Hornets head coach, came by the house to cut his hair. Pryor let Jamal roller-skate on his tennis courts. Jamal's was obviously not a typical childhood.
Having all these international superstars in his extended family had several effects on Anderson. Most important, perhaps, it instilled a belief that he himself was destined for greatness. In addition, Anderson developed ease with celebrity and the media, as well as a hunger. The Andersons have always interacted with their superstar clients and friends on a natural, down-to-earth level.
While Anderson's home life instilled a sense of humility in him, it also fostered the drive to aim as high as possible, to shoot for supremacy. With such extreme standards of achievement all around them, Jamal and his siblings were fiercely competitive. Second best was not a respected outcome.
Breaking Records in 1996
With Craig ''Ironhead'' Heyward playing Pro Bowl-quality ball for the Falcons, Jamal had to bide his time before he got to show what he could do. His rookie season he ran the ball all of two times, for a net one yard loss. In 1995, Anderson got to play in all the games, though not as the starter, and he rushed 39 times for a total of 161 yards--a 4.1 average. Plus another 42 yards from four pass receptions. However, he made a serious impression as a kickoff returner, with 24 runs totaling 541 yards.
In 1996, Anderson got his chance at last to demonstrate what he knew he could do. He ended the season with 1,055 yards; at the time he was only the seventh Falcon player to pop the 1,000-yard barrier and he was the eleventh best in the league. Jamal ran up some impressive comparative stats that season: his 4.55 yards per carry ranked second in the NFL; he was third for receptions by a running back, with 49; seventh in total yards from scrimmage, with 1,528; fourth in rushes of over 10 yards, with 30. Jamal rushed over 100 yards in three games, and totaled over 100 yards all-purpose in seven.
In 1997, the team started to gel, with Coach Dan Reeves moving away from the run-and-shoot strategy to a more run-based game. Chris Chandler, the veteran journeyman quarterback, had an excellent season. Blocking improved for Anderson, thanks largely to the efforts of Bob Christian. Despite a nasty ankle sprain, which squelched Anderson's production in the first half of the season, he finished with another 1,000 yards plus season.
The 1998 season was magical. Anderson turned in one stunning game after another, excelling in the rush, at receiving, and as a blocker. Atlanta astonished the league by turning in a 14-2 final record. The Falcons then defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game. All the while, Jamal launched a good-natured but very public campaign to be elected NFL MVP.
Denver ultimately prevailed in Super Bowl XXXIII, snagging the coveted distinction of back-to-back championships. Anderson rushed for nearly 100 yards. In fact the Falcons were 16-0 when Jamal carried the ball 20-times in a game that season.
At the conclusion of his playing career, Anderson hosted the ''Jam Session'' on ESPN's top ranked Sunday NFL Countdown, in addition to hosting duties for ESPN during the NFL playoffs and regular season. Jamal was also one of the first athletes featured on MTV cribs, VH1's decade specials, ''I Love The 90's'', and he has also guest starred on a number of TV shows including, HBO’s Arliss, NBC’s For Your Love, The Disney Channel's ''The Jersey'', Fox Networks ,''The Man Show'' & The Roseanne Barr Show. Jamal has also hosted, and been featured a number of times on Fox Sports Net’s, “Best Damn Sports Show”. In 2004, Jamal signed on to be a featured color analyst for ABC TV during their 35th College Football season. Anderson concluded a two your stint for ABC before perusing other business interests. In 2007 Jamal signed on to be a performer on MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar, which lead to a featured appearance on MTV’s top rated TRL. In the fall of 2008 Jamal rejoined ESPN as a lead NFL Analyst on ESPN’s 1st Take & 1st and Ten. Additionally Jamal hosted ESPN’s Mike & Mike.
Jamal is also the owner of several successful businesses. Jam Entertainment, founded by Jamal in 1996, has produced and promoted concerts and specialty events throughout the United States. Working with a bevy of musical talents and entertainers, including N'SYNC, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, Mya, Britney Spears, Jermaine Dupree, Jesse James, Busta Rhymes, Tyrese, Justin Timberlake, and Destiny Child just to name a few. JAM Entertainment has produced events that were attended by Michael Jordan, Kevin Costner, Wayne Gretzky, Shaquille O'Neal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean "P.Diddy" Combs, Ashton Kutcher and Jay Z. JAM Entertainment has been in business for over 10 years and is currently focused on producing several TV shows in the Sports and Entertainment fields.