Earlier this week, former Eagles wide receiver and resident jackass Terrell Owens opined that if he were Desean Jackson he would’ve never reported to camp. When I first heard about this story I wanted to dismiss Owens because a) he’s an idiot and b) he’s clearly someone that wants to get his name back in the news cycle as he sits out to nurse his rapidly declining body.
And while he is an idiot and history shows he’s certainly seeking attention, he’s also right–Desean Jackson should have continued his hold out.
When Jackson didn’t report to Lehigh the mantra was that the Eagles wouldn’t negotiate with holdouts. Fine. Cool.
But he did report. And maybe they did negotiate, and sure, it’s a complicated process because no other receiver is comparable to Jackson. But as the regular season rapidly approaches, there’s seemingly been no movement in the direction of a new deal for Jackson. And in a season in which the Eagles feel they can win the Super Bowl, they would have had to eventually give into Jackson’s demands to do it.
So when you take into account that Jackson is viewed as a player who is one punishing hit away from serious health concerns and combine it with the fact that he’s still pining for a new contract, today’s announcement that he will be the team’s primary punt returner is stunning.
The guy is electric and fans understandably want the best player at each position, but to put a fragile player who is looking to strike it rich in harms way as he runs down punts is a curious move. And you could argue that the move will possibly be interpreted as a slap in the face to Jackson.
You might argue that Jackson gets paid to play football so the Eagles can use him however they want, but that’s naive. That’s not how today’s NFL works. This ain’t Chuck Bednarik’s NFL–an era when a guy got his bell rung, dusted off his jersey, and hopped back in for the next play. No, this is the era ImPACT testing, doctor’s clearances, and most important to Jackson, big money.
And I have to imagine that although it’s one more way for him to prove his worth when it comes time to sign that next contract, I’m willing to bet that every single time he drifts back to catch a punt he’s going to wonder if he’s going to have the opportunity to sign it.