The narrative surrounding DeSean Jackson since his release by the Philadelphia Eagles — in some corners of the media anyway — has been that he’s a “high risk” player with serious character issues and an unsavory circle of friends.
Some talking heads have gone so far as to draw some nebulous connection between Jackson and former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. The connection though, is one that exists only in the minds of some writers and talk show hosts looking to fill up column space or air time.
The biggest difference between the two, obviously, is that Hernandez is on trial for murder and Jackson is not. Beyond that though, Hernandez has a history of violence and character issues strong and numerous enough that teams steered clear of him until the Patriots took him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. The worst that was said about Jackson was that he was a bit difficult and something of a diva. But then, aren’t most of the top receivers in the NFL?
The question marks about Jackson coming out of college were nowhere near comparable to the red flags that surrounded Hernandez. Despite how some in the media have tried to stretch and spin it, the only real connection between Jackson and Hernandez is that both of them played football. Hernandez has more in common with O.J. Simpson than he does with Jackson.
Is this to say that Jackson is an angel, innocent of any wrongdoing ever? Of course not. But some within the media are indicting Jackson’s character based on nothing more than circumstantial evidence and the actions of people he’s tied to.
Many point to the photograph of Jackson flashing a gang sign as concrete proof that he’s a gangbanger. But isn’t it just as plausible that the picture in question is of a young guy trying to project that tough-guy image? Because no other guy in the history of the world has ever tried to look all hard in a picture, right?
Following the logic of these talking heads, if the photo of Jackson is proof that he’s a banger, then guard Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs is a flaming bigot. You might remember that Parker was photographed flashing a well-known anti-Semitic gesture — the Nazi party salute. Why then, aren’t these same hacks blowing up Parker the way they’re trashing Jackson? Why the hypocrisy and double standard?
The truth is that nobody except for those in Jackson’s immediate circle really know who he is and what he’s all about. All we do know for sure is that despite throwing signs in a picture, Jackson has never been arrested for or convicted of any gang-related activity. Sure, people he knows have, but that’s not remotely close to the same thing. Just because your uncle is a fall-down drunk, that doesn’t mean that you are.
Yes, he is difficult. Yes, he can be a bit of a diva. While perhaps maddening and annoying, thees things don’t make him a banger, don’t make him a criminal, and really don’t make him anything like Hernandez.
So why does the media continue trying to make us believe that he’s a hardcore banger? Why were his “gang ties” the first story in the media after Philly cut him? Why is his character even a point of conversation? Especially when you have players who have been arrested multiple times for everything from drugs to weapons charges, why are we talking about Jackson’s character when, though diva he may be, he’s kept his nose clean off the field when so many others haven’t?
Why does it seem that a double standard exists between say, Ray Rice, who did something horrific yet hasn’t been crucified by the media, and Jackson, who so far as we know hasn’t done anything, yet has seen his reported “gang ties” being talked about everywhere?
Oh right, because the media is full of hypocrites and people simply looking to sensationalize a story.