SAN JOSE -- Nate Jackson spent six mostly anonymous seasons toiling in the NFL. Nobody beyond his immediate family was likely to ever remember a single moment of his career.

Until now.

Jackson, a San Jose Pioneer High and Menlo College product, surprisingly has achieved much greater notoriety as a first-time author than he ever did playing the game, mostly as a tight end for the Denver Broncos. His unflinchingly honest memoir, "Slow Getting Up: A Story of Survival from the Bottom of the Pile," has received rave reviews and attracted Hollywood's interest.

Not bad for an NFL benchwarmer who wrote his story in large part just to get football out of his system -- a cathartic experience that he vividly compares to extracting a large splinter from his body.

"I've definitely got a lot more exposure from my writing than I ever did as a football player, which is kind of weird," said Jackson, 34, who is promoting the book this week at the Super Bowl, which features the Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks. "We all know about Peyton Manning and Colin Kaepernick. But the majority of players are just like me."

They are grunts who constantly fear being replaced, fight through incredible pain, but yes, are well-paid princes thanks to athletic gifts that allow them to play America's favorite game. Jackson captures all of that in spare, and often acidly witty, prose as he pulls back the curtain of the cloistered NFL world.

"It's a tell-all without the salacious headlines," said author Stefan Fatsis, who helped mentor Jackson. "He doesn't trash-talk about anyone. He just wrote an authentic book about what it's really like to be a professional football player.

"Nate balances how you can love playing the sport with the brutal realities of the game, and that's a tough line to walk."

Jackson, by the way, is happy to report he walks just fine today. That's a mild surprise considering how much of "Slow Getting Up" is about him dealing with a series of grotesque injuries that included a dislocated shoulder, broken tibia, snapped pinkie, torn groin muscle and chronic hamstring problem.

"The book tries to explain why guys can't step back and rationally accept that football probably isn't good for them," Jackson said.

At an early age, he told his schoolteacher parents that he intended to play in the NFL. The walls of his South San Jose bedroom were covered with 49ers posters of Joe Montana and his hero, Jerry Rice.

"My friends were 49ers fans and we all lived out our dreams on Heppner Lane, playing lamppost-to-lamppost football games," Jackson said.

His own career appeared over when the Cal Poly coach told him he wasn't good enough to play there. But he landed at tiny Menlo and flourished as a wide receiver. He also caught the eye of the late 49ers legend Bill Walsh, who was still a special consultant with the team.

Undrafted, he spent time on the 49ers' practice squad. But Walsh, when it became clear Jackson didn't have a future with San Francisco, arranged a trade with Denver.

There, Jackson forged an unexpectedly long career (most players only last a handful of seasons) as a useful special-teams player who also would catch 27 passes, with two touchdowns during 41 career games.

In the Broncos locker room he met Fatsis, who in 2006 was allowed to attend training camp as a place-kicker for his own book, "A Few Seconds of Panic." While many players were interested in what Fatsis was writing, Jackson was interested in how he wrote.

"Nate wanted to talk about writing, about the process, about journalism," Fatsis recalled.

Credit his parents for that interest. They encouraged him to write after one of his close friends committed suicide while he was in high school.

"I got him a journal and just told him to write whatever he was thinking," said Marilyn Jackson, his mother. "He's been writing ever since."

Added Jackson: "I realized there was something in me that wanted to come out, and it happened when I was holding the pen."

He wrote for the Menlo school newspaper and later penned an online journal for the Broncos. After his career ended in 2009, he started writing football essays for websites. Those led to the book contract.

Relocating from Denver to Marina del Rey, he camped out in coffee shops and libraries as it took time for him to find the book's voice. One key, Jackson said, was making sure nobody was "thrown under the bus." Unsavory or embarrassing anecdotes always revolve around Jackson himself, not others.

The book's cover -- Jackson face-planted on the football turf -- captures the tone. He's just a working stiff struggling to get by ... in what happens to be a multi-billion-dollar industry.

He explains the constant dread of job insecurity and why "NFL" can mean Not For Long; the desperation of experimenting with human growth hormone at the end of his career; and what it's like to be a professional athlete on a Las Vegas trip. (Hint: The velvet ropes at the hottest clubs are no obstacle.)

And there's the pain. He writes of seeing his thick injury report -- "about the size of a dictionary" -- and how eventually he requires numbing injections to play on Sundays.

His career comes to an inglorious end with the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives when his nagging hamstring explodes. The final lines are of his memory of being on the ground: "It's over now. It's all over."

Only it's not.

The book has enjoyed All-Pro reviews. The New York Times was impressed enough by Jackson's writing to conclude: "He's that unicornlike rarity among former football players: He can write." (An NFL spokesman said the league is aware of the book and had no reaction other than to "wish Nate all the best.")

Now, like an athlete after a breakout season, Jackson faces a dilemma: What does he do for an encore? He may take a crack at writing a TV pilot episode based on the book.

"But I don't want to write about football forever," Jackson said. "The idea of the book was to kind of put football behind me. But with the Hollywood opportunities, I guess it's a good problem to have."

Follow Mark Emmons at Twitter.com/markedwinemmons.