By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – Bears safety Eddie Jackson sees the customary smile of Will Rogers each day, what they’ve come to know at Halas Hall.
But the rookie Jackson can also sense the bad days, too. An assistant team athletic trainer with the Bears, Rogers has a 14-month-old daughter, Charlotte, who’s battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Many players wouldn’t even know the struggle for the Rogers family.
“She didn’t do anything to get it,” Jackson said. “It’s just sad. But you got to keep fighting. He’s being strong, very strong, to come out here and do his job every day. He’s a strong guy.”
On Sunday, Jackson will honor Charlotte Rogers and Jacqueline Setas, the sister of his agent, Ben Setas, who’s fighting Hodgkins lymphoma. As part of the NFL’s “My Cleats, My Cause” initiative, Jackson will wear the names of Charlotte and Jacqueline as he takes the field when the Bears host the 49ers at Soldier Field.
Jackson was overjoyed to share with Rogers of his cleats cause.
“He was shocked,” Jackson said. “He was so happy. He didn’t believe it at first.
“It was good putting a smile on his face.”
Jackson and Rogers have built a strong bond since he was drafted by the Bears in the fourth round this past April. Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould, now with the 49ers, shared a connection with Rogers from their time together and linked through Lurie Children’s Hospital, with which he still associates.
On Sunday, Gould will also wear the name of Charlotte on his cleats as he kicks against the Bears. He and Rogers remain in touch weekly.
“I couldn’t imagine going through that situation,” Gould said. “The guy’s been pretty tough and been a rock for his family. Anything I can do to help them means a lot for me.”
Jackson considers Jacqueline Setas to be like a sister, as he does Ben Setas a big brother. Jacqueline grew up Lansing, Mich., and is a senior golfer at Michigan State. She was diagnosed with lymphoma in August and began treatment a month later.
The opportunity for Jackson to represent two individuals battling a horrible illness is an honor he doesn’t take likely. Sunday will be bigger than just a game for him. This one’s for Charlotte and Jacqueline.
“She’s a 14-month-old baby,” Jackson said of Charlotte. “She didn’t do anything to get it. (Jacqueline), she didn’t do anything to get it as well.
“I could be in that same situation.”
You can donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society here.