Man with ties to eastern Idaho gets his shot at playing in Superbowl LIV
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IDAHO FALLS — A 24-year-old Utah man with ties to eastern Idaho is living his dream as an NFL football player, and he made it to the Superbowl.
Jackson Barton, a Park City, Utah native was drafted to the NFL last April. He’s finishing his rookie year as an offensive lineman with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are playing against the San Francisco 49ers at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida for Superbowl LIV.
Mikki Barton, Jackson’s mom, grew up in Idaho Falls. She tells EastIdahoNews.com she is so proud of her son.
“We’re so proud that he is making a name for himself and working hard to provide a good life (for his family),” Barton says.
Jackson’s love for football and hard work is part of the Barton family legacy and a trait he acquired from his parents.
A family legacy
Mikki played basketball as a student at Idaho Falls High School, where her dad, Norm Kane, coached. (Kane retired last year after more than 40 years). She later went on to attend the University of Utah, along with her husband. She played basketball and he played football.
Jackson’s interest in football started when he was 9.
“He was always a big kid who developed a little slower, but his dad just kept pushing him to work hard and (tell him) that he had the ability to be whatever he wanted,” Mikki says.
Jackson continued to work hard and develop his talent. During his sophomore year of high school, he earned a full-ride scholarship to the University of Utah. He and his brother, Cody, who is only 15 months younger, played football together for the Utes, before they were both drafted by the NFL last April.
“Our kids were lucky to have two parents who played in college, so we knew what they needed to do to be able to perform at that level. We pushed them as much as we could and supported them. There was probably more tears than they wanted sometimes, but they really have made something for themselves,” says Mikki.
Cody signed with the Seattle Seahawks, who made it to the second round of the playoffs this season. They ultimately lost to the Greenbay Packers. Even though Cody’s rookie year didn’t turn out quite as good as Jackson’s, he has nothing but good things to say and he’s happy for his brother.
“We’ve competed our whole lives at everything,” Cody says. “It’s just funny that it’s gone from little boys to high school, college and now the pros. It’s fun to look back and see all that.”
Living the dream
Since the draft last year, Jackson’s wife, Kellsie, says life has just been a blur. It’s been a life-changing experience for their family. She’s grateful for the hard work that has gotten them to this point and is appreciative of Jackson’s example for their 13-month-old son Cohen.
“I’m so proud of him,” Kellsie says. “I’m grateful that our son has such a great role model and hero to look up to.”
The price of tickets prevented the Barton’s from being in Miami to watch the game, but watching the Superbowl is a family tradition. They’ve never really been invested in a team, but today they’re cheering for Jackson from their Utah home.
“I’m feeling nervous. I really want (the Chiefs) to win,” says Kellsie.
Jackson is not part of the team’s starting roster and his family is not expecting him to have any game time, but according to Kellsie, Jackson remains optimistic.
“I’ve played the Niners twice and they’re a good team,” says Cody. “I don’t know the Chiefs as well, but from what I’ve heard, they’re also a good team. It’s going to be a battle today. It’ll be fun.”
Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s game, Kellsie says she’s looking forward to enjoying the off-season together with her husband and taking some family trips.
“We’re there with you in spirit, and just so proud of you,” Mikki says to Jackson, tearing up.
Superbowl LIV is already underway on FOX.