Richard Sherman on DeSean Jackson: It’s unfair to judge him by “company he keeps”


DeSean Jackson’s release still hasn’t been explained by the Eagles. (Mel Evans / AP)

Richard Sherman has a few things to say about DeSean Jackson and what led the Philadelphia Eagles to so publicly give up on such a such a stellar talent without offering a real explanation.

Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback who spoke eloquently about his background after his NFC championship game interview became a national topic, writes on MMQB.com about the nature of NFL teams dealing with athletes from troubled backgrounds and finds the Eagles’ approach lacking. For a team that took a chance on Michael Vick and nurtured his career after he served a prison sentence for his role in a dog-fighting ring, the Eagles released Jackson surprisingly swiftly on the heels of a report on his alleged gang ties. From Sherman, who grew up with Jackson in Watts:

“[I]f they’re accused of a crime, as DeSean’s friends have been, should that reflect poorly on me? Consider that for every several guys I try to help who end up dead or in jail, there’s another person I was able to rescue from a similar end. Should I give up on everybody out of fear of being dirtied by the media?

Sorry, but I was born in this dirt.

NFL teams understand that. The Seattle Seahawks get it. The Philadelphia Eagles apparently do not.”

The Eagles have offered no explanation beyond their initial statement. The decision to release Jackson was particularly surprising given how it handled the Riley Cooper situation last summer — and then signed him to a big new contract recently. Why keep Cooper and not Jackson? ESPN’s Ashley Fox, who covered the Eagles for years in Philadelphia, writes of the two players:

When Jackson is good, he is game-changing good. When he is bad, he is chemistry-killing bad. You don’t get one without the other.

Even though this is Kelly’s second season as the Eagles’ head coach, it is his first real opportunity to retool the Philadelphia roster he inherited from Andy Reid. Kelly has a season under his belt. He had an opportunity to evaluate firsthand every player on the roster. He became intimately aware of every player’s strengths and weaknesses, his work habits, his dedication, his attitude, his practice tendencies, his commitment to good nutrition and sleep habits.

Kelly now can make informed decisions on how a player fits, or doesn’t fit, into his program, into his system and into his plans.

That is why the Eagles gave Riley Cooper a five-year, $25 million contract before Cooper hit free agency last month. Kelly liked Cooper’s production. He liked his physicality. He liked that Cooper valued blocking. And he liked the accountability Cooper showed after he was caught on video using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert last summer.

Cooper fit. Jackson did not.

But that’s an interpretation. It isn’t an explanation from the Eagles and it doesn’t wash with Sherman, particularly after the arrest of the Indianapolis Colts owner last month.

Look at the way many in the media wrote about Jim Irsay after his DUI arrest. Nobody suggested the Colts owner had “ties” to drug trafficking, even though he was caught driving with controlled substances (prescription pills) and $29,000 in cash to do who-knows-what with. Instead, poor millionaire Mr. Irsay needs help, some wrote.

But DeSean Jackson is the menace, right? He’s just as bad as those guys he parties with because he threw up a Crip sign in a picture and he owns a gangsta rap record label. If only all record label owners were held to this standard, somebody might realize that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg weren’t the bosses behind NWA. Jim Irsay lookalikes in suits were.

But go ahead and judge DeSean for the company he keeps. While you’re at it, judge me, too, because I still live in Los Angeles, and my family does, too.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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