The NFL is a criminal league. Name your favorite teams and there are current or former drunk drivers, drug addicts, wife beaters, thieves, thugs, alcoholics, steroid gobblers, perverts and more than a few murderers. But nothing scares a pro team’s general manager than the suggestion a player’s truest affiliation is a gang affiliation.
After the Aaron Hernandez scandal, the NFL is hypersensitive to even the most threadbare of connections between a baller and gang-bangers. That paranoia that the NFL shield can be tainted by gangs leads to some strange actions and nothing was stranger than the Philadelphia Eagles decision to cut their All-Pro wide receiver, DeSean Jackson for what seemed to be his ties to the Crips. After his release Jackson issued a denial of the rumors, but the Eagles loss will likely turn out to be a gain for another less easily intimidated team.
Jackson has been the best wide receiver on the Eagles since they took him in the draft six years ago. He’s also “high maintenance” as many wide receivers in the NFL. Call it “Terrell Owens Disease.” He pouts. He brags. He disrupts. He pisses people off. But he can do a lot of great things on the football field which is why the Eagles were paying him $10 million a season.
Jackson apparently knows someone in a gang who was accused, indicted, tried and acquitted for a murder. Okay, a lot of us know someone with a sketchy past. Jackson has tats and he’s thrown up his hand in a way some folks think might be a gang sign. Some say it’s not.
If throwing what someone thinks is a gang sign makes you a gang banger does sitting in a garage make you a car?
He wasn’t shooting anyone and he wasn’t breaking the law. All I see is a young Black man doing things I see a lot of young Black men doing and they aren’t shooting anyone or breaking any laws either. Young Black men with tats and pants that hang low and surly attitudes are not America’s favorite sort of Colored People.
Either way Jackson has not been arrested or convicted for anything more serious than rolling in a car with the windows too darkly tinted. Last season someone jacked his crib while he was at a game and stole guns, cash and bling. Suspicious maybe, but nobody has proof it has anything gang-related to it. DeSean Jackson may be a diva, but there is NO proof as the LAPD themselves have stated that he is in a gang or has any association with any criminal acts by gangs.
But simply mentioning the word “gang” is enough for the predominantly White NFL coaches, general managers, owners and officials to clutch the pearls and crap their pants. That is what seems to have happened here and the Eagles dropped Jackson like he was radioactive, but not before strongly hinting it was his associations with dicey characters that led to his abrupt exit just days after the head coach said everything was cool.
Nick Foles, who unseated Michael Vick as the starting QB, had a pretty good season because he had Jackson to draw fire from the secondary and slow the pass rush. Who’s gonna do that now? Not Riley “I’ll Fight Every Nigger Here” Cooper, that’s for sure.
But Cooper is a Kelly guy and Jackson is not.
From a Football Sense 101 perspective it defies logic. You don’t give away your best offensive weapon for nothing. You don’t keep one guy in Riley Cooper who done almost nothing in the pros and throw away another who will step into a starting role on nearly any of 31 other teams.
This was a spectacularly STUPID move by the Eagles that should tick off their fans and will likely come back to bite them in the butt. Maybe the Eagles simply decided they didn’t want to deal with a petulant and moody malcontent who demands the ball and is unhappy when he doesn’t see it enough. Maybe they didn’t want to pay him $10 million a season to shag overthrown long bombs from Foles. Nobody knows exactly why Kelly and the Eagles brain trust thought they would be a better team without Jackson than they were with him.
What is obvious is the team tried to slime their best player and make Jackson radioactive to scare away potential suitors for his talents. The whisper campaign by the Eagles and the sports media to slime Jackson was as gutless as it was transparent. I never was a fan of Jackson though I admired his game without admiring him. Now I’d love to see him stay in the NFC East and get two chances every season to make the Eagles look like fools