Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson was cut by the team, after a nj.com report surfaced regarding his suspected ties to Los Angeles street gangs. Jackson is one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL, and last season had 82 receptions for 1332 yards, with 9 TD's. The Eagles rewarded Jackson a $50 million contract with $20 million guaranteed.
Jackson immediately released a statement,
"First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly. I would also like to thank coach Andy Reed [sic] for bringing me in. Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless."
Jackson is from the Los Angeles area, and went to school 20 miles south at Long Beach Poly, where he excelled in both football and baseball. He went on to play for the Cal Golden Bears, and defied the odds by making an NFL roster for the Eagles.
It's been no secret to some in LA, of his associations, however when growing up in certain neighborhoods, you grow up with guys who makes choices. Some make the right choices, and some make the wrong choices. We must be extremely careful when being accusatory about connections and who's affiliated with whom. Make no mistake about it, at times Desean wasn't the best judge of character and some of his decisions were not well thought out, like throwing alleged gang signs in the air in photos on Instagram.
According to reports in 2010 the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) inquired about Jackson's where abouts for questioning in regards to knowing a person of interest in a murder investigation, after a photo surfaced of him and the person allegedly involved in the murder investigation. Jackson was then unavailable for comment.
In 2012, Jackson was again the subject of another murder investigation that took place outside of a night club in Los Angeles. Jackson had employed some of the people from his old neighborhood to his Jaccpot Records imprint. Again authorities could not reach Jackson at the time for a statement regarding the matter.
Friday morning it appeared the Eagles had enough of Jackson's outside interest, and what they considered his somewhat disgruntled attitude on the field at times about wanting the ball more.
I understand some in the Black community are upset that Jackson was released but Riley Cooper remained with the team. Last summer Cooper was captured on film saying racial slurs, using the N-word, etc. Cooper faced no disciplinary action from the NFL or the Philadelphia Eagles organization.
Let's go a little deeper than the surface, where I'm not surprised at all the Cooper remained and Jackson was released.
Also Jeremy Macklin is returning healthy, along with Brent Celek, Lesean McCoy, and the team recently traded for Darren Sproles from New Orleans. With new second year quarterback Nick Foles, when was Jackson really going to get the football?
However in order to justify the release of Jackson, they had to use something that they knew would stick.
As I eluted to earlier it's extremely irresponsible to say a person is affiliated with gangs or drug dealers simply because they are shown in photos, etc. I know some people who are engaged in that activity, however that won't stop me speaking to them if I run into them somewhere. I'm not apart of their activity however I still know and will engage with them in conversation and I will not ignore them.
From that perspective I understand Jackson's thought process, however he must learn that he has to watch the company he keeps. The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business, and you (as the player) are an investment, so everything you do you is under surveillance. However the Eagles knew about what was going on with Jackson for many years, let's not insult the intelligence of America and NFL fans by acting in a manner of complete shock and surprise.
The Eagles organization waited until it was no longer feasible or profitable to embrace Jackson's actions off the field, and saw an opening to part ways.
I truly hope Desean Jackson will use better judgment with not only his decision making, but understand that the NFL is about getting a return in their investment by any means.
It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Jackson's next team, whether it's the Jets, Chiefs, Raiders, 49ers, Panthers, or whoever will place some stuff guidelines in his new contract.
It's time for six year wide receiver to continue to focus on football, remain a businessman off the field solely, and continue to stay the course.