Sherman on DeSean Jackson

Richard Sherman, on MMQB, has written a thoughtful piece on DeSean Jackson and the company he keeps. The piece came out shortly before his signing with Washington was officially announced.

Since the Eagles have not been forthcoming about what motivated their decision to cut their star wide receiver last week, there’s been speculation galore. The issue that’s gotten the most attention, of course is Jackson’s ties to gang-affiliated individuals, including one who was tried on murder charges in 2012 (that person was acquitted).

Sherman points out that, if knowing people who have gang ties is a criterion for cutting a player, we’re opening a Pandora’s Box:

“I look at those words—gang ties—and I think about all the players I’ve met in the NFL and all of us who come from inner-city neighborhoods like mine in Los Angeles, and I wonder how many of us could honestly say we’re not friends with guys doing the wrong things.

I can’t.”

Sherman notes the reality of growing up where he and Jackson did and questions those who question why he or Jackson would not automatically turn their backs on some of their old relationships: “Should I give up on everybody out of fear of being dirtied by the media? Sorry, but I was born in this dirt.”

Lots of folks have invoked Riley Cooper. More germane, I’d say, was the response to the recent arrest of a certain owner. As Sherman writes:

“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.”

There remains a vast sociological gulf between the majority of NFL players and management, as well as between those players and the media covering them. That gulf infuses and inflects who gets deemed a “thug,” “bad apple,” “diva,” “attitude problem,” “head case” or pick your preferred term. Jackson is a 27-year old star coming off his best season. His only real run-in with the law was a single arrest five years ago for illegally tinted windows and marijuana possession. And yet we’ve had a week’s worth of discussion about why he might have become so radioactive and why his  (former) team might be better off without him.

It’s striking how much can be made of so little when you’re drawing on a lot prior – if unsupported – assumptions

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