Hopefully, the drama surrounding DeSean Jackson’s release from the Eagles is now over. After roughly 35 days of relentless rumors, reports and opinions, maybe we can now have closure on a topic that has been dominating discussion amongst the fans and media.
It all started back on March 1st with a speculative article about the possibility of the Eagles trading Jackson, then climaxed on March 28th when he was released.
Yesterday, I feel the Jackson saga has now reached its denouement after this CBS Philly article came out with team sources leaking information about the “real” reasons the Eagles cut him and then hearing from Jackson himself in this interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
I’m sure you’ve seen the article by now and have probably watched or heard the quotes from the interview. What I gather is simple:
Jackson’s release had nothing to do with race <inserts eye roll here>, money or any gang affiliations and had everything to do with his behavior within the organization.
Joseph Santoliquito, the writer of the CBS Philly article, points out all you need to know in the second paragraph about why the team cut him:
But what a number of sources close to and around the team, including current and former players, as well as additional sources within the Eagles revealed was that Jackson was not very well liked by his teammates, was blatantly insubordinate, with temper tantrums cussing out Kelly several times in front of the team, pushed the NFL rookie coach the way “a child would test boundaries,” and was more concerned with his rap label than he was about winning football games.
That about sums up all of the quotes he gathered from those unnamed sources.
If you want to take the stance that those aren’t good reasons because every team and every coach has to deal with star on-field talents who can be difficult with everything outside of game days, that’s fair.
However, this is Kelly’s perogative. It’s his choice and he needs to build the team as he sees fit. According to the article above, he also even received feedback from players on the team before making a decision.
Kelly is known as a players coach and is a guy that seems to carefully consider every detail before making a decision. He is a big believer in science and statistics. I’m quite confident that the decision to move on from Jackson was heavily weighted and debated.
Ultimately, Kelly did what he thinks is in the best interest of the football team, period.
I’m not saying he’s right or wrong because there is really no way to ever know that. If his passing game struggles this year due to a lack of receiving talent (i.e., they look like McNabb’s receivers vs. Carolina in the 2003 NFCCG), maybe then we can say he made a mistake.
But, even then, there could be too many variables to come to a definitive conclusion. Whether or not we think he was wrong doesn’t matter anyway. Sure, it’s good for discussion, but Kelly did what he thinks was right and nobody knows the situation better than him.
Until proven otherwise, Kelly has earned my benefit of the doubt.
In regards to Jackson’s interview, which was billed as his chance to “clear things up”, it really wasn’t much more than damage control for DeSean’s image and didn’t really clear anything up.
Pre-recorded interviews leave a lot of room for coaching and refinement.
However, I will give Jackson a lot of credit for taking the high road with all of his answers. He didn’t say anything that could fuel more controversy regarding his departure and/or relationship with the Eagles, even after a little bit of mud-slinging was thrown his way via the CBS Philly article.
He was positive about his relationship with Kelly and stated that he did not believe that the team leaked any information regarding the infamous NJ.com report. In other words, he understands this is a business, the Eagles made a decision and now both parties have to move on.
After watching the interview, I’m convinced that Jackson himself does not think the Eagles cut him for anything that had to do with gang affiliations. Although he intimated that he was “waiting for a reason why” when talking with Kelly, he said he had a “deep, personal conversation” with him.
Maybe Kelly never came out directly to DeSean and said “hey, this is why we have to let you go”, but you usually don’t have “deep, personal conversations” with someone without picking up what the other person is laying down.
Nonetheless, this is over and done with. Jackson was no longer viewed as a fit within the organization and while he was disappointed, he seems to have no ill will towards Kelly or the Eagles.
On some level, Jackson knows exactly why the Eagles released him and maybe this experience will help him in Washington. Of course, Washington isn’t exactly the place that is conducive to structure and a positve culture so we’ll have to wait and see.
In the end, I’m disappointed that Jackson is gone based only on his on-field presence. I’m more disappointed that the Eagles couldn’t get anything in return for him via a trade.
However, while I appreciated Jackson the player, I’ve never been someone who becomes a fan of specific players where my loyalty follows them wherever they go. Ultimately, I’m an Eagles fan, not a DeSean Jackson fan.