Cleveland Browns’ Thriller Wide Receiver Michael Jackson
During the early to mid-1990s, the Cleveland Browns had a wide receiver that shared a name with the King of Pop. Despite being the lesser known Michael Jackson, he also went through many changes during his professional career.
For starters he was a part of a team that switched cities, he was forced to switch his jersey number by the NFL and finally he changed his name to avoid any further confusion with the singer and then switched it back a week later.
Selected sixth round of the 1991 NFL Draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi, Jacksn was a key receiver after the Browns parted ways with Webster Slaughter, Reggie Langhorne and Brian Brennan during the Bill Belichick era (1991-95).
He was among the team leaders in receptions, receiving yardage and touchdowns during the 1992-93 seasons. His production fell when Cleveland brought in Mark Carrier and Keenan McCardell. During the Browns’ final season before moving to Baltimore, he bounced back to lead the team with nine touchdown catches.
Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, Jackson had his best season the year after Art Modell exited to Baltimore. In 1996 with the Baltimore Ravens, he caught 76 passes for 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns, which was tied for the league best along with San Diego Chargers receiver Tony Martin.
However Jackson provided many headaches for the Browns equipment manager Ed Carroll. In 1993, he changed his last name to Dyson, his father’s surname, before the start of the season. However after the first week of the season, he switched his name back to Jackson, his mother’s last name, after children who had his autograph implored him to reverse the name change, according to a St. Petersburg Times article.
Despite the name confusion with the King of Pop, the confused receiver said “I want to meet him and do a poster. Man in the Mirror—he looks in the mirror and he sees…me!,” Sports Illustrated reported.
At the same time that Jackson-Dyson changed his name, the NFL regulated numbers for positions and forced him to lose number 1 for number 81.
Injuries eventually cut his career short and forced him to retire at the age of 29 following the 1998 season.