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In the end, DeSean Jackson was treated in Philly not like a person, but like property

CooperJackson Getty Images

While the election of an African-American president hardly meant the end of racial bias in this country, the NFL has for decades been progressive when it comes to matters of race.  Sure, it took a lot longer than it should have for NFL teams to embrace diversity at the quarterback position.  But today’s NFL truly is color blind; at all positions, the best players play.

If they don’t, coaches and General Managers get fired.

That reality makes Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s not-so-subtle suggestion of racism regarding the Eagles’ treatment of DeSean Jackson misplaced.  The Eagles didn’t dump Jackson and keep Riley Cooper because of skin color.  The Eagles severed ties with Jackson because he was due to make far more money than the organization (specifically, coach Chip Kelly) believed his overall contributions justified, and they re-signed Cooper because they were able to get him at a favorable financial figure — in part because other teams didn’t want to have to figure out how to get a locker room with no prior connection to Cooper to welcome him after last year’s Kenny Chesney misadventures.

This doesn’t mean there are no concerns regarding the way the Eagles treated Jackson.  (Then again, they paid him $18 million over two seasons; perhaps we should all be so mistreated.)  Right, wrong, or otherwise, the Eagles ultimately did to Jackson what all teams do to most players whom a team decides it no longer wants.  The Eagles treated him like a commodity, freezing him out and forcing him to wonder about his status and possibly lying to him near the end as part of a last-ditch effort to get value for the asset in trade.

Yes, there’s inconsistent treatment in the NFL.  Players who are still regarded as valued members of the team are treated like people.  Players who aren’t are treated like property, cast aside as part of a cruelly efficient process that will see every team shrink from a maximum of 90 players in the offseason to only 53 by Labor Day.

It happens to non-players, too.  When Browns G.M. Mike Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner decided that they were done with coach Rob Chudzinski, that was that.  When Browns owner Jimmy Haslam decided that he was done with Lombardi and Banner, that was that, too.

Sherman’s column suggests that Colts owner Jim Irsay has enjoyed favorable treatment in the wake of his arrest for DUI and felony possession of controlled substances based at least in part on race.  “Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn,” Sherman wrote.

This ignores the fact that 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith received help, not scorn, when he chose (like Irsay) to enter rehab after being arrested hours before a Friday practice in September 2013, allegedly drunk behind the wheel of a car.  It also ignores the fact that, in the aftermath of Irsay’s arrest, the universal reaction by the NFL and the media has been that Irsay must face the same discipline that a player would face for similar infractions.

But the one thing Irsay has going for him is that, as an owner, he doesn’t have to worry about someone else deciding that the team no longer wants or needs him.  Once that happens, NFL teams often treat people like something other than people.  That’s the dynamic for which the Eagles deserve criticism when it comes to DeSean Jackson, and that’s one area in which the league should strive for change.

Starting with the elimination of scenes involving the cutting of players from Hard Knocks.

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23 Responses to “In the end, DeSean Jackson was treated in Philly not like a person, but like property”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Apr 3, 2014 7:44 AM

    They still overpaid Riley Cooper a little bit too. Let’s see how he does this year and maybe he will surprise me. I just don’t see why you should pay him in full and in advance in case he does.

  2. tatatoothy says: Apr 3, 2014 7:44 AM

    Spot on, Mike. I agree with everything written in this article.

  3. daburgher says: Apr 3, 2014 8:22 AM

    Great article

  4. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Apr 3, 2014 8:44 AM

    Excellent piece Florio. Not to mention Jackson was already out at a club while visiting Washington, not bad in itself, but when you’re character is under question you can’t take off from the club? Then he’s already talking about #10. He’s a “me” guy and Chip wants “we” guys.

  5. jamesefallen says: Apr 3, 2014 9:16 AM

    Very good observations. As much as I am disappointed in Richard Sherman, I am pleased you took the time to put a little perspective to this episode. Thanks.

  6. nonetruerthanblue says: Apr 3, 2014 9:27 AM

    No such thing as color blind when it comes to business, Mike.

  7. oldbyrd says: Apr 3, 2014 9:27 AM

    Sherman is a race baiter. I am so sick of this crap. If you buy a vanilla ice cream cone, your a racist. Sickening, old and worn out!!!!!!

  8. munny10 says: Apr 3, 2014 9:31 AM

    Sherman would have impressed me if he would have been man enough to admit it is a business and Jackson did nothing to help himself with his attitude and antics. Nothing honorable in playing a race-card so ignorantly (Sherman), and I think Florio did a nice job summarizing the overall landscape.

  9. lightcleric says: Apr 3, 2014 9:35 AM

    His own teammate, Marshawn Lynch, got off basically scott-free from a DUI. Did he get off because of his race, Richard?

  10. harrisonhits2 says: Apr 3, 2014 9:37 AM

    Not sure how paying someone 10s of millions of dollars and the following legal league procedures in cutting him is “treating someone like property”

    This whole concept is BS.

  11. vegasdestroyer says: Apr 3, 2014 9:45 AM

    Property? More like damaged goods.

    And good on that DJ went to a team that was going to “put him to sleep again” referencing his concussion on the Deadskins Monday Night blowout loss. Watch your back, DJ, with your new teammates.

  12. 49erstim says: Apr 3, 2014 9:47 AM

    Spot on Mike. Anybody working for any company is just an employee number. People get laid off all the time in this country no matter how good they perform or what good contributions they’ve made. It’s happened to me as well as most of you at some point. To make this issue about race is ignorant at best and malicious at worst. Sherman is a sharp cat, not so great with the sportsmanship, but sharp nonetheless. He needs to take a longer view on things like this incident. DeSean didn’t fare too badly here. He was a highly sought after free agent…….and not for nothing. ….he gets to seek revenge twice a season for however long he stays in Washington. In the end it boils down to what teams are willing to put up with in regards to a players on – field output as opposed to his off – field behavior or antics.

  13. ashure71 says: Apr 3, 2014 1:11 PM

    I just hope we can get one good year out of him, two would be awesome.

  14. kdub79 says: Apr 3, 2014 2:34 PM

    Give me $18 million and I’ll put up with being treated like a piece of property for a few years, and then retire somewhere with a white sand beach for the next 40 years or so. Ridiculous.

  15. twotommyo says: Apr 3, 2014 2:36 PM

    This article is utterly ridiculous. There is inconsistent treatment from parents, coworkers, bosses, friends, etc. To continually blame others, when not holding the person accountable does not bring about change. As an educator, I am totally in support of providing second chances and working with students to help them to grow. But, in a professional world, there is a higher set of expectations and that increases when millions of dollars are involved. DeSean Jackson simply was not part of the Eagles vision. For whatever reason, Riley Cooper was. That is the prerogative of of the Eagles and they will sink or swim with that decision. Please stop stating that DeSean was mistreated! He just signed a contract that guarantees him far more money than his prior one with the Eagles! He gets to play with one of the up and coming quarterbacks in the league. I will take the “treatment” he received to have that opportunity.

  16. offthelows says: Apr 3, 2014 3:01 PM

    The optics of what happened in the release and rumor mill with Desean vs re-signing Cooper were not good, even though the decision was rightfully based on what they expected in the future from each player. The Eagles think Cooper had a incident he’ll never come close to repeating and feels gratitude towards the organization, while Desean was likely to continue his on/off field and practice room quirks staying at the same $10.5m salary.

    I’m sure there’s a way the Eagles could have come to this outcome and handled it better though, and for the 3/4 of the league who fits the racial demo that is suspicious about the handling of the 2 players, could factor in future free agency decisions.

  17. cjonson says: Apr 3, 2014 3:33 PM

    Last I checked the majority of players on the Eagles are black. Jackson was cut because his price tag was too high and Chip believes his system doesn’t depend on one player. The fact is the Eagles have given DeSean Jackson many chances. Why was he drafted in the second round? He was seen to be a player with baggage who the Eagles took a chance on. Sherman must have forgotten when DeSean used a gay slur on the radio in 2011. I don’t beleive Jackson was fined or receieved any penalty for his slip of the tongue. It seems that the Eagles were harsher in Cooper for his heated, drunken comments than Jackson. Also, Jackson was benched for missing a special teams meeting under Reid. He openly admitted to half-asssing a season because of his contract. Then he gets a big 5 year contract extension and has clashes with new coach Chip Kelly in training camp. Then there is the public spat with receiver coach and apparant late/missed meetings during the season.

  18. nyjetsfan08 says: Apr 3, 2014 4:59 PM

    You know what, you wanna say Jackson is treated like property, fine. But guess what? They all are, every single color in the rainbow who dons an NFL uniform, particularly the ones who make $18 million in two years.

    I wish my employer would treat me like “property” and pay me millions upon millions of dollars so I can retire early, invest smart, and not have to worry about what’s going to happen to me when I get to age 65.

  19. imnotsorryisaidthat says: Apr 3, 2014 5:14 PM

    DeSean Jackson was treated like any other player on the Eagles by Chip Kelly,he chose not to respond like the players that are still Eagles Florio..He chose to pout,he chose to show up late for practice,he chose to lie about meetingswith Kelly,he chose to ask for a new contract,he chose to put himself before the team and when Kelly had the chance to lay him out publicly?..He didn’t,instead we heard how Jackson did all he asked of him..class thy name is Kelly

  20. eleventyeight says: Apr 3, 2014 6:00 PM

    Well said.

    And you’re totally right about eliminating those scenes from Hard Knocks.

    Watching a man be told that everything he’s sweated and bled and sacrificed for over the course of the previous 12+ years of his life has ended in failure isn’t what I consider “entertainment”.

    It’s tragedy, and real= and it’s a human being’s life.

  21. jsrdc says: Apr 3, 2014 7:14 PM

    Washington overpaid a player yet again. Well done, Danny Boy!

    MeSean Jackson will get a taste of more disappointment in Washington like he had in Philly. At least Washington has won a SB, but they won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

    This primadonna, just like Fat Al Haynesworth, will take the money and not produce commensurate with it. That’s OK. It will make beating the 4skins that much sweeter with MeSean on the team.

  22. tcb2nyc says: Apr 3, 2014 9:09 PM

    He is a commodity. You act like the players make the game of football. The great game of football has made these arrogant players like DeSean millions of dollars.

    $24M …. I’d say DeSean turned out fine.

    I love a lot of these guys as much as the next guy. I have a few autographed footballs in my home. I have pictures of my sons with players from my favorite team in my office. But at the end of the day, these players are nothing more than commodities. And that’s the way it should be.

  23. tiredofblatheringnflexperts says: Apr 5, 2014 6:34 PM

    Fox News and NFL fans perfect together

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