ESPN The Mag: Hue Jackson’s commitment to excellent nails

Jackson tries to get a manicure and pedicure the day before every home game to relax.

The Raiders franchise long has been associated with being uncouth.

Perenially among the NFL leaders in penalties, the Silver and Black are currently on a record pace for penalties and penalty yards in a single season.

Cover of the "Year End" issue

The Raiders aren’t afraid to get their nails dirty. They also, apparently, aren’t afraid to get them buffed and polished, either.

In the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine — on newsstands today — head coach Hue Jackson shares his regimen for taking care of his hands and feet before every home game at a Bay Area salon.

Stacey Pressman, contributing writer and producer for ESPN and ESPN the Magazine said: “We did this on Saturday, Nov. 26 the day before they played the Chicago Bears at home.

“They had just won two games prior so he was feeling good. We are running this now, Dec. 15, and they’ve lost two games in a row, so the timing is probably not great for him but that’s the nature of how these things go.

“Winning makes conceits like this better.”

She tells Front Row how she and photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice “nailed” down the story.

FR: How did you discover this story of an NFL head coach’s dedication to fine grooming?

Pressman: I had met Coach Jackson a few times in Los Angeles. He was out here for the ESPYs in July and was super friendly. I got to know him through his marketing rep. Soon after, the rep had called asking if I had any ideas for fun lifestyle stories with Coach. Ironically, she was just with him at a mall in Oakland and mentioned he was getting a pedicure. I will admit to chuckling immediately at that visual and said, “if I can convince him to let me go with him, that would make for a great Zoom photo feature in our Magazine.” It was very insider and reminded me of what ESPN The Magazine is all about. The second I mentioned it to our editor-in-chief Chad Millman, he was all for it. I knew it was probably something that not a lot of people were aware of. In this day in age with Twitter and Facebook, we all know everything about each other but this was something I was convinced not a lot of people knew.

FR: How open was coach Jackson to sharing this story?

Pressman: He was actually way more open than I thought he’d be. He’s very comfortable and secure with himself. That comes off right away when you meet him. This is something he does for relaxation. It’s his “me time” and I was fortunate that he allowed us to tag along with him for his time alone.

Pressman (center) investigates Coach Jackson’s 'handy work'

FR: How surprised were you to learn that Coach Jackson reads gossip magazines?

Pressman: That was amusing. Though truth be told, those are the magazines that are in the shop when you get a mani/pedi. He admits to reading them, he’s a player’s coach and likes to be in touch with what his guys are talking about off the field. He’s up on all the latest happenings, current events and gossip. Plus, with close ties to USC he knows Reggie Bush so I am sure he even has some insider Kardashian information. Kim Kardashian was on the cover of the magazine he was reading.

FR: He mentions that his former boss, the late Al Davis, knew of this regimen. What do Raiders players think?

Pressman: He definitely knows this will be fodder for his players and even opponents. Though he does think other coaches probably do this, they just aren’t vocal about it.

He told me when he was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta that quarterback Joey Harrington randomly bumped into him at a mall and saw him. Coach had to explain what he was doing. Some of his current players know he does this; he told me Carson Palmer is aware. He knows they’ll probably make fun of him but he’s fine with it.

FR: How does this rank among unusual assignments you’ve had at ESPN?

Pressman: This is up there with unusual. I’ve worked a long time with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, so by default I have unusual athlete stories. I was also fortunate to work on our Movie Issue last year, and dressing up Mariners Cy Young winning pitcher Felix Hernandez as Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction was just as quirky and different.