The Washington Redskins‘ new head coach Jay Gruden snagged electrifying flanker DeSean Jackson in a blockbuster offseason strategic maneuver to provide torque, explosion and horsepower to the club’s wide receiving corps.
It was a move that shook the NFL cosmos to its core and pulled the trigger of a domino effect — one that has snowballed into a rather distasteful gridiron version of Judge Judy. Jackson has been virally cooked by the media who made his professional transition from the City of Brotherly Love to the Nation’s Capitol a less-than-agreeable experience. The grounds for unleashing such heat?
Analysts and critics thought it would be a good idea to burrow into Jackson’s past and extract sensitive information regarding his alleged association with reputable Los Angeles street gangs. Gee, that’s a professional approach. How is that any of their business? Explain that to me.
Prior to his release, NJ.com reported that the Philadelphia Eagles were concerned about Jackson’s “continued association with prominent street gang members in Los Angeles that were connected to two homicides in 2010.” And a report also surfaced that “Jackson was cut because he was a problem in the locker room,” per CBS Sports. But the Eagles have declined to disclose further information on the move to cut Jackson and none of the ill-defined reports have harbored substantial credibility.
Jackson has addressed the odd account maintaining that the Eagles failed to provide him with sufficient grounds for his release. “When coach called me, it was basically like, ‘We’re moving forward. I think it’s best for the team and I think it’s best for yourself,” Jackson said, per NJ.com. Jackson recounts that he waited on the phone for additional information from the head coach, but it never came.
When confronted about the reports concerning questionable professionalism in the Eagles’ locker room and gang-related concerns by prominent media outlets, the premier flanker never balked. “It’s not true,” Jackson said when questioned by Steven A. Smith on ESPN if he was in a gang.
He conceded that he has hung with affiliated gang members but has exerted caution to draw the line when opportunities have surfaced to engage in activities that would be deemed legally questionable by the NFL and the club he represents. By all accounts, Jackson has been sufficiently cross-examined by the appropriate presiding league executives and notable media outlets, all of whom have harvested nothing that would hold his game or reputation in question.
Quite to the contrary, several of Jackson’s former teammates, including RB LeSean McCoy and signal caller Nick Foles, gushed on what Jackson meant to them and how his absence will impact the Eagles in 2014. “It was a surprise for sure,” McCoy said, via Sheil Kapadia of PhillyMag.com. “I think that anybody who tells you they’re happy about it, I don’t know how honest that would be. Not playing with him this year is gonna definitely be different. And playing against him is really gonna be different.”
McCoy also undermined reports of friction between Jackson and head coach Chip Kelly. “I never seen that,” McCoy said. “I never seen them two get into it.” McCoy further disputed reports that Jackson didn’t connect well with teammates. “I’m his teammate,” McCoy volleyed. “Or I was his teammate, and we connected very well off the field.”
And no, for everyone’s information, I don’t think McCoy is implicitly referring to trading blows with Jackson in a back alley.
Foles likewise endorsed Jackson, saying that he didn’t have issues with Jackson’s personality. “He was a great teammate to me,” Foles said, per NFL.com. “We had a great relationship on and off the field…I really enjoyed playing with him. He’s a heck of a receiver.”
Jackson remains an explosive home run threat that will continue to haunt and frustrate rival secondaries this fall.