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Proud of his NFL Running Back Son
When the Kansas City Chiefs arrived in Oakland on Oct. 23 to play the Raiders at the Coliseum, Shell Martinez inspector Jack Battle was in the stands cheering on the visiting team.
It’s not that he has anything against the Raiders, it’s just that his son, Jackie Battle, is a Chiefs running back who was coming off a 119-yard rushing game two weeks ago. The funny thing is, he prefers watching games on TV.
"I don’t like live football or live sports. It’s a hassle driving some place, and the walking and everything," Battle said with a laugh. "I like it on the DVR, so you can pause and rewind and fast forward."
He made an exception last month, however, so he and his daughter Briana could watch the game and then mingle with the players after the game in the family area. Battle is low-key about having a son who plays in the NFL, saying, “I’m proud of him, but I don’t think any of the males in my family get particularly excited about anything.”
That includes Jackie, now in his fifth season as a pro running back.
“He’s not a super big football fan,” Battle said. “He’s a good athlete and somebody wants to pay him to do this. He doesn’t live and breathe to play the game. It’s a job.”
It’s a good job, but one with risks like injuries that could end careers and a lack of security for non-starters. It wasn’t until just three months ago that he bought a house (in Houston), where he lives with his wife, who is expecting their first baby in May.
“We never had to worry about him making the right decisions,” Battle said. “He didn’t go buy anything (with his NFL paychecks). He drives a 2005 vehicle. He doesn’t own any jewelry outside his wedding ring. He gets watches (from competitions like bowl games) and gives them to me.”
But Jackie Battle, who has been a running back mostly on special teams for the Chiefs, had a terrific performance in the Chiefs’ Oct. 9 over the Indianapolis Colts, gaining a career-high 119 yards. He’s 250 pounds and can run a 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds, which his father describes as “flying.”
Here’s what a story on the Chiefs’ website had to say last month about Jackie: “Unlike his first four seasons in the NFL, Battle’s breakout performance against the Colts was impossible to miss. The measuring stick of national recognition comes in fantasy football leagues where Battle is the hottest waiver wire addition of the week despite the Chiefs not playing again until October 23.”
Since then, he’s had good games against the Raiders and the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 31, where he had 70 yards on 19 carries, and scored a touchdown in a Chiefs win that put them in a tie for the AFC West lead.
Jack Battle said his son grabbed the opportunity to get more playing time than his special teams’ role in the win against the Colts. Battle enjoyed celebrating that victory, along with celebrating a milestone of his own in October – his 21st anniversary at Shell Martinez on Oct. 8. Battle began working in as an operator in the Operation Central control facility in 1990. The unit is responsible for monitoring and running a large part of the refinery.
Battle hadn’t thought about pursuing a job specifically in the oil industry. He had been in the Navy, working at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, where he was a signal mate and was in charge of the gymnasium and the auto hobby shop. When his enlistment was expiring, he looked in the classifieds and found jobs at Shell, Chevron, the Contra Costa County sheriff’s and fire departments, and decided to apply at Shell.
“When I was hired in here, 1,500 people showed up for the application process,” Battle recalled. “It was a good job, even back then.”
Even though he didn’t initially didn’t know anything about working in a refinery, he learned, and in 1998 he was promoted to shift team leader. In 2000, he became an inspector, and has been in the same role ever since, now working on the second floor of the main office building on Pacheco Boulevard.
His cubicle shows little sign of his connection to the NFL except for a photo of Jackie carrying the ball in a recent football game on his computer monitor.
Battle enjoys watching football, but he played basketball himself. He was point guard on the Crenshaw High School basketball team in Los Angeles, which is a perennial powerhouse. He also played on the Los Angeles City College team. Unlike his son, he didn’t think about going pro.
“I was small,” he said. “When I graduated from high school I was 5-7. I’m 6-1 now. In nine months I grew 7 inches.”
Battle’s three brothers also played sports – baseball, basketball and football (his sister did not). “My parents didn’t drive it, but they made it available,” Battle said. “I just liked to compete and the camaraderie of being on a team. For me, the biggest part was competing against different players on a daily basis.”
As a father, he also made playing sports available to his children. Jackie played football from a young age. He grew up in Houston after Battle and his first wife divorced, but during the summers he would come to the Bay Area. Jackie participated in summer football camps at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. In his first, he was only 13, but they put him on the high school team because of his speed. He won the camp MVP award.
Jackie played on the Humble High team in Texas, and was ranked No. 38 in the nation for running backs. He was a five-star blue chip recruit who went to the University of Houston on a football scholarship. Battle was his representative, dealing with all the coaches during recruiting.
“I was the guy, because he didn’t feel comfortable talking to these people, everybody had to go through me to decide what to do,” he said.
After his freshman year, the coach was fired and the new coach changed from a running game to a passing game, so Jackie didn’t get as many opportunities, but he still set the school record for rushing in a season and rushing in a career. His college quarterback, Kevin Kolb, is now the Arizona Cardinals quarterback.
Battle went to a lot of Jackie’s games during college, and experienced the intensity of Texas football.
“You go to a game out here and people are sitting down. There, people are standing up the whole game and hollering.” Jackie graduated in 2007 with a degree in sports administration (he hopes to be a college athletic director some day). He was not drafted, but right after the draft about 15 teams called Battle and his agent asking about signing him.
He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2007, and then by Kansas City, where he has played ever since.
Battle has another son, Elliott, 18, and a daughter, Briana, who is in eighth grade. He said his biggest hobby is to “hang out with my kids.”
“When Elliot in high school, I spent a lot of time on the road between basketball and football,” he said. “Briana wants to be a chef, so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen watching her cook. She likes to bake. I have to clean it up. That’s the part I haven’t been able to get in her mind, that you have to clean up.”
His person hobby is fixing computers. He says he’s probably worked on about 100 people’s computers.
“I don’t charge anything. I just like the challenge,” he said.