The search for Jackie Wallace

Last week’s signing of a franchise quarterback has Minnesota Vikings fans dreaming of Super Bowls.

What do you suppose Jackie Wallace, who played in two of them, is dreaming about these days?

Wallace, a former Minnesota Viking, dropped out of life — or so it seemed — before a New Orleans Times Picayune photographer found him sleeping under a bridge in 1990 and took his picture.

“You know, the series that you guys are doing now about life after the NFL, what happened to the heroes?’ He said, ‘You oughta do a story about me.’ And so I simply said, ‘And why would I want to do that?’ And he said, ‘Because I’ve played in three Super Bowls,’ ” photographer Ted Jackson tells Only a Game‘s Bill Littlefield.

Ex-teammates hustled him off to a rehab center in Baltimore. He got a job working at Baltimore Arena. He kept in touch with the photographer whose pictures seemed to have saved him.

Until 2002, when he disappeared again.

Ted heard nothing about Jackie Wallace for a dozen years. He assumed that Jackie was dead, probably from a drug overdose. And then one night at a homeless shelter, he ran into a guy who said he’d seen Jackie. Ted did some digging, and he found an address in Harvey, Louisiana.

“It was four years old,” Ted says. “But you know, the more you think about it, the more you think, ‘Well, why not go check it out?’ “

“Went straight back to homelessness. His drug addiction was worse than before. Had a lot of debt to the drug dealers that he had to deal with,” the photographer tells Bill Littlefield. “So he started writing bad checks. He was arrested and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He served three, got out on good behavior and went straight back to using again.”

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Franco Harris runs into the end zone to score early in third quarter action of Super Bowl IX against Minnesota Vikings at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, La., Jan. 12, 1975. Pursuing Harris is Jackie Wallace (25) of the Vikings. (AP Photo)

Jackson went to a New Orleans bridge to kill himself. He walked back down.

By the time Ted Jackson found him again in 2016, he’d been clean for three years. He and Wallace went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.

Then Wallace disappeared again. Jackson keeps looking for him, but he’s had no luck so far.

“Every time the phone rings, I think it might be Jackie,” Ted says. “And every text I get, I think it might be him. I’m very encouraged. I can say that. And I do expect it to be a very positive outcome, when it’s all said and done.”