Yes, this is a pretty firm accusation, but it’s starting to feel more and more like it. They were both a top WR for their team (and still performing at a tremendous level), both were distractions both on and off the field, both ended up being released, and both went on to sign with a division rival. In Owens’ case, the Cowboys, but in Jackson’s case, the Redskins. Even Jeremy Maclin compared the two situations a few days ago. Jackson’s deal became official this morning after the terms were released. He will receive $24 million over 3 years with $16 million guaranteed. Is that a lot? No. Remember, he is a 3-time Pro Bowler. But will leaving the Eagles shed him of his attitude and off-field issues? Absolutely not.
DeSean Jackson has been in the Philadelphia sports headlines every day these past few weeks, and I don’t blame the media. Every other day some new piece of news about the relationship between Jackson and the organization would surface, sending Jackson’s status on the team on a continuous 180 degree turn until he was finally released. In fact, there has been issues between the two sides for multiple years, and his issues have been there since he was drafted. Remember when he threw the ball backwards before scoring a touchdown? Oh yeah, and it wasn’t just a regular game, it was a Monday Night Football game against their bitter rivals, the Cowboys. Philly fans knew from then on the kind of bad that would come with the good in Jackson.
Before Owens joined the Cowboys, he was known for his own mischief in Dallas. Whenever he would score in their stadium, he’d run to the star in the center of the field and taunt the fans and stomp on the star. He also had his infamous sit ups in his driveway and throwing popcorn in his helmet after scoring a TD. While some people think it’s funny, it’s only funny until he gets a penalty or a fine, which he didn’t care about at all. Owens may have been more of a distraction, but Jackson has had similar situations.
Jackson complained for a new contract with more money after he had a huge year and was still in the middle of his rookie contract. Head Coach Andy Reid stood strong and waited to give it to him, which was the right decision. But then Jackson asked for another new contract this year, just two years into an already huge contract. He wanted more money, of course. How much money could he possibly want? Yes, he was a Pro Bowler last year, but he showed plenty of times why he isn’t worth any more than he would’ve gotten with the Eagles this year.
Throughout his whole career he had issues with “trying” on every play of every game. I’m sorry, but if you’re getting a six figure paycheck for just one game (which he definitely did on average, probably close to $500,000 per game), then there should be absolutely no lack of motivation, especially if you are going to go on to complain for even more money after the season. That’s just childish and shows he hasn’t really grown up as much as his teammates and coaches have said. And to be honest, he probably never will grow up to the point that he should. Jackson had many dud games (especially towards the end of last season) where he simply was not getting open. Last year was even worse (and it was the worst season of his career). He had many games where it looked like he just gave up. No coach wants a player with an attitude like that.
In addition to that, he has alleged ties to gang members. While I won’t and can’t confirm how true these are, they’re still alarming. As a GM or coach, I wouldn’t want any of my players to even be associated with a gang. That’s just a bad sign and bad news waiting to happen. And to reference Richard Sherman’s column in which he said race was a factor, that’s simply not true. Sherman made a lot of great points in that piece, but race was never and never will be a factor for a player’s release in the NFL. That’s absurd to suggest. Sherman said that they kept Riley Cooper because he was white and therefore gave him a second chance, but not Jackson. No, that’s not true. One of my Twitter followers summed it up excellently:
@AustinVitelli Cooper got a second chance. DJax had hundreds of chances.
— Scott Bailey (@scottbails13) April 2, 2014
Yes, DeSean Jackson was given chance after to chance to redeem himself, and sometimes it looked like he was past his childish ways. But now I see that that may never happen; he’s always going to have a bad attitude in some situations and can’t be guaranteed to always try.
But, the Eagles still lose out on an excellent receiver that will be hard to replace. There’s no denying that he was a Pro Bowl talent that helped the Eagles offense do some amazing things in his career in Philly. But the worst part was the team’s decision of when to release him. At the beginning of free agency, many teams were looking for a new starting WR, but over time those teams got what they needed or decided to wait until the draft. No team was willing to trade for Jackson with the combination of his attitude and high contract. It was becoming clear that the Eagles were going to get rid of him anyway, so why relinquish a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him? Teams were smart and said no thanks, and the Eagles were then unable to control where he ended up.
Just a few days later, he visits the Redskins, a division rival that the Eagles have to play twice a year no matter what, and he signs with them. Maybe that was a sign of “screw you” from Jackson to the Eagles, but you can guarantee that he wants to tear the Eagles up every chance he gets. So in the end, the Eagles get nothing, they lose their best receiver, and he ends up on a division rival. Was this a successful move? No. Ultimately, the Eagles messed up, and it’s possibly that this is even worse than it appears now.
But for now, let’s go back in time a bit and relive one of the best moments in Jackson’s career: the Miracle of the New Meadowlands. Yes, I still get chills from this video and I am just thinking about it while I’m typing this. So long Jackson, have fun in Washington.