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Raiders’ Jacobs finishes career season playing for father

LAS VEGAS (AP) — As the national anthem played before the Kansas City Chiefs faced Las Vegas on Saturday, the television camera zoomed in on the glare sticker under Raiders running back Josh Jacobs’ left eye.

“Pops,” it read.

In what’s been an exhaustive week around the NFL after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during Monday’s game in Cincinnati, emotions hit closer to home for Jacobs, whose father, Marty, underwent emergency heart surgery Wednesday.

And after the fifth-year back spent most of this past week in his hometown of Tulsa, he said his father awoke Friday with one message, insisting his son return to Las Vegas to play.

“I wasn’t gonna come back — for me, family always before anything,” said Jacobs, who added he flew in late Friday and was playing off roughly four hours of sleep. “Especially the severity of what was going on, what’s currently going on. But my dad had woke up and he told me he wanted me to play, so that’s why I’m here.”

Jacobs, who leads the league with 1,653 yards, finished with 45 yards on 17 carries in the Raiders’ 31-13 loss to the Chiefs.

While the NFL and a worldwide fan base have been praying for Hamlin, Jacobs said the love he received from his teammates and the organization made the decision to return at his father’s request much easier.

“That’s what made coming back good,” said Jacobs, whose 12 rushing touchdowns are tied for fifth-most in the league. “The whole team, even people upstairs that don’t really work with me every day. I definitely got that love and that support. … Everybody had my back and they knew it wasn’t really about football, so I appreciate them. That’s just the love that they got for me and I got the same type of love for them.”

The NFL rushing leader’s dedication to the team through emotional pain came as no surprise, though, after watching him battle through physical pain throughout the season.

Jacobs, who was recently named a team captain, entered a game in Seattle on Nov. 27 questionable with a calf injury and wasn’t cleared until shortly before kickoff. He ran for 229 yards and finished with 303 offensive yards.

He injured his oblique on the first play from scrimmage in last week’s home game against San Francisco, returned in the second quarter, and still carried the ball 17 times for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Jacobs, who is ahead of Cleveland’s Nick Chubb by 205 yards, and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry by 224 yards, finished a season that started with many questions when his fifth-year option wasn’t exercised, and the new coaching regime started him in the Hall of Fame Game.

With a stacked running backs room to start training camp, there was talk Jacobs wouldn’t make it to Week 1, let alone vie for the league’s rushing title.

But in what’s been a career year for the former national champion out of Alabama, he’s quashed any and all innuendo of his worth to the organization, clearly looking like someone who brilliantly auditioned for a big payday this offseason.

“Since Day One, since I met Josh, me and him, we tell each other we love each other before every game because when you have special dudes in the locker room like him, they’re just a little bit different, it means a little bit more to him,” defensive captain Maxx Crosby said. “And to see him, the things that he’s overcome … he’s been through it all. I can go on and on about Josh Jacobs. He’s got every bit of respect from me and all these guys in the locker room, so I’m just praying for him and his family. I hope is dad’s doing better. I love that dude to death, I’d literally go to the end of the world for him. So just hoping everything turns out good.”


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