San Diego Charger and Rancho Santa Fe resident Quentin Jammer pays it forward to disadvantaged youth
By Karen Billing
Eleven-year San Diego Charger Quentin Jammer knows that he wouldn’t be where he is today without somebody giving him that helpful nudge in the right direction.
With his Jammer Family Foundation he hopes to return the favor.
Since 2007, his foundation has focused on empowering disadvantaged youth in San Diego and giving them the encouragement and the support they need to reach their highest potential. Much of his foundation’s work has centered on San Pasqual Academy, a school for foster children in Escondido.
A big part of why Jammer does what he does with his foundation is thanks to the influence he received from his college football coach, University of Texas’ Mack Brown.
When he was a sophomore at Texas, Jammer had been getting into a lot of trouble and Brown wanted him to know he was wasting an opportunity to be great. Brown told him NFL scouts had Jammer highly rated as a player and the choice was his whether or not he wanted to have a professional career.
“He told me to shape up or ship out,” said Jammer, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe. “He didn’t give up on me. He could have. But he sat me down and gave me that come to Jesus moment that projected me to where I am today. I could be doing something different.
“It’s in me that I wanted to be able to affect a person in that same way. You never know who you could impact and make a difference in someone’s life…you could inspire them to become a doctor and cure diseases or to change the world. All it takes is a little spark to get somebody going. To be able to help is important to me because somebody did it for me.”
The Jammer Foundation hosts several events throughout the year such as Jammin Under the Stars, Jbowl, a charity bowling event, and last year’s Crush for a Cause, which supported his Legends for Literacy program.
Legends for Literacy provides children in after-school programming, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego, with new technology to improve reading comprehension and literacy skills. On Jan. 23, Jammer was on hand to deliver 175 Amazon Kindle e-readers to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego.
Jammer knew that he wanted his foundation to support kids.
“Everybody needs some direct motivation, why not reach children because they’re at the stage where they can go either way and maybe you can be the push they need to get them over the hump and point them in the right direction,” Jammer said.
At San Pasqual his foundation helped build the school’s football field and they are looking to complete work on the school’s track and get a concession stand built. The foundation also provides scholarships for San Pasqual students, as well as students at his hometown high school in Angleton, Texas.
“I’m proud of where it’s at today,” Jammer said of the foundation.
When he started out with his ex-wife Alicia, they were funding everything themselves. Getting more people involved has allowed them to help more people.
Jammer said he is grateful to have an amazing team to help his foundation run smoothly and effectively — including longtime friend Rob Powell, who serves as the foundation’s executive director, and Jolane Crawford, who does business development for the organization.
“They have done great things,” Jammer said of them.
A strong point of the Jammer Foundation is that every child gets the same opportunity for education and athletics, with a solid support system.
Jammer got his start in organized sports playing baseball as his mom found football too dangerous, even though he was knocked around plenty playing football with neighbor kids in their yards.
By middle school he was playing football on a team.
“I started out my football career as a linebacker, probably the smallest linebacker in the history of football,” Jammer said with a laugh.
He played a bit of quarterback as a freshman in high school before moving to safety, eventually earning a spot as a University of Texas Longhorn where — after coach Brown’s “come to Jesus moment” — he became an All-American as a senior in 2001 and was named a co-MVP.
Brown was right that Jammer was on the NFL’s radar: He was drafted number five in the first round of the 2002 draft.
“It was one of the greatest days of my life,” Jammer said of going to New York for the draft with his family. “The day was nerve wracking and exciting and sad, I had all kinds of emotions going into that day.”
Jammer had never set out with the intention of playing professionally and maybe never believed he’d end up in the NFL — he learned early that the chances were very rare and thought maybe football would get him through school so he could get a job and help his mom pay some bills.
What he’s accomplished, however, is a long, 11-year career with the Chargers as a physical cornerback. He was named one of the “50 Greatest Chargers of All Time” and has logged 172 games with the Chargers — only Dan Fouts, Junior Seau and David Binn have played in more games in franchise history.
The 2012 season saw Jammer put up some numbers in a column he hadn’t before —career touchdowns. He recorded two pick-sixes this season.
His first NFL touchdown was made off an electrifying interception of the Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning in a primetime Monday Night Football match-up at Qualcomm.
On the play, Jammer watched as Eric Weddle blitzed and recognized that Manning was checking down to a quick slant route.
“I jumped it and the receiver ran a different route and the ball ended up in my hands,” Jammer said. “I was tired on the play, winded and gassed, and I really had to run. In the end zone I was laying down, people thought it was because I scored the touchdown but it was because I was tired.”
Jammer ran 80 yards for the touchdown and the image of him stretching for the end zone pylon made him Mr. January in the team’s annual calendar.
“It was crazy, it was nuts. It was an awesome feeling but it was tainted by the loss,” Jammer said, referencing the second half collapse in which the Broncos came back from being down 24 points to win 35-24. “I’d much rather have won the game than get that interception.”
Jammer is proud to have been a part of the Chargers during a time when they came back to prominence after some lean, losing years. He said it meant a lot to be a part of the teams that brought the Chargers some winning records (14-2 in 2006 comes to mind), reaching the playoffs and getting back into the national conversation as a contender.
In his Charger career, Jammer said his most memorable game was the 2007 season’s divisional playoff victory over the Colts in Indianapolis. The Colts were 13-3 and picked to win the Super Bowl and the Chargers came in without Ladanian Tomlinson while Philip Rivers left the game with an injury.
“It was really was on the defense to try and win the game. We ended up playing great and winning and going to the AFC Championship. It was an awesome game,” Jammer said.
Jammer has been inspired by his “class act” teammates, such as LT, Rivers, Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle. He said they are not only great football players but they are humble, great men who never hesitated to help him out with his foundation.
One example was Rivers’ help in getting the new football field built at San Pasqual. Jammer’s Foundation had raised a little over half of what they needed to build the field —one request to Rivers and he and his Rivers of Hope charity got involved and the project was able to be completed.
Family is very important to Jammer and he’s a father of three sons. Little Jammers Caden, Caleb and Cason will turn 7, 5 and 4 in a stretch of birthdays starting Valentine’s Day through April. Similar to his mother, Jammer is holding off on letting them play tackle football for now, but Caden will play some flag football this year.
He’s followed through on those plans to help his mom — setting her up nicely in Texas and helping put his little brother Quandre Diggs through college. His brother now plays cornerback for the Texas Longhorns and Coach Brown.
Currently Jammer is a free agent and it has been reported that he will likely not be back with the Chargers next season. Jammer thinks he still has about three to five years in him to play.
He still feels great, a credit to changing his style of play once he became a dad.
To be a less risky player he has worked to become a “perfect tackler” to avoid those costly hits that could prevent him from playing with his kids post-football.
No matter what NFL team he lands on, Jammer and his foundation will maintain their presence in the San Diego community.
“It’s where I started my career and the city embraced me, even after I struggled for my first two seasons,” Jammer said, “I’ve played here for 11 years, this is home now…I’ll continue my foundation and try to impact the community the best that I can.”
To donate to the foundation or learn more about upcoming events, visit jammerfoundation.org.
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