There have been several NFL players both past and present that have had encounters with local and federal law enforcement agencies. New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and Baltimore Ravens future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis are prominent names that have been in involved with federal investigations. Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver (and apparent Twitter supporter of DeSean Jackson) Donte’ Stallworth and former St. Louis Rams linebacker Leonard Little both took the lives of innocent civilians through negligence while drunk driving while receiving mere slaps on the wrist in a “blind” court of law. Current Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is currently being indicted due to an alarmingly grotesque incident in which he assaulted his fiancee in an Atlantic City casino. With personal sentiments aside for each circumstance, not one of the five players I referenced here should be assimilated with the entire population pool of the NFL. Current Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper said a highly offensive word last off-season that has no place whatsoever in society, regardless of race, and will carry the repercussions of said incident for the rest of his career. With the exception of Ray Rice and Aaron Hernandez, the other listed players were able to rebound rather quickly and resume a career in the NFL devoid of cynicism and criticism of their alleged or committed actions. Similar to a Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens comparison, for every Leonard Little there is a Josh Brent, the former Dallas Cowboy who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter of teammate Jerry Brown. Brent retired from the game of football in order to focus on correcting his life path, a notion that might fall on deaf ears for many, but nonetheless needs to be commended in some small manner.
I am a firm believer in rehabilitation as well as second chances amongst all members of the population. While DeSean Jackson has associated himself with people such as Theron Shakir, that does not mean that I, nor anyone else, should make wild accusations about Jackson’s character because of the people he chooses to associate with. Jackson has never been convicted of a crime, and while LAPD detective Eric Crosson has had DeSean on his radar, there is a significant difference between being affiliated with wrong-doing and actually committing crimes. Despite any accusations or crimes committed by any NFL players past and present, the NFL remains a lucrative business that overcomes adversity in mind-numbing forms of ratings and revenue. A primary reason for the popularity is because every Sunday we as fans are immersed in competitive drama void of “reality”. An abstinence of reality however does not give players free reign over all things football.
DeSean Jackson did not lose his job on the Philadelphia Eagles due to hanging around the wrong crowd, nor was he released due to flashing gang signs on Instagram or to Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. DeSean Jackson was released because his overall demeanor and behavior culminated in a “me-first” attitude that has no place whatsoever with this franchise, particularly with a team that has such an influx of young players. What is important for DeSean Jackson, and the younger members of the Eagles franchise, moving forward is to realize erred ways and to find ways to better oneself as a person and as a role model. Former Philadelphia 76er and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley infamously said, “I’m not a role model” in a commercial directed towards fans of profession sports. But what is lost to many is that while these athletes might not desire to be role models to the viewers, they certainly are role models to fellow teammates. THIS is what must be primarily focused on in regards to the abrupt and rash decision by the Eagles to release DeSean Jackson. As a six year NFL veteran, DeSean Jackson directly served as a role model to the younger players on this team. Players such as rookie right tackle Lane Johnson were not even in college when DeSean Jackson was on a Philadelphia Eagles team that was ten minutes away from a Super Bowl berth.