While many made the natural assumption that the story about DeSean Jackson’s alleged ties to gang members was the final straw in his release from the Eagles, it was more likely just convenient public relations cover.
That’s the opinion of former Eagles safety and ESPN analyst Brian Dawkins, who played one season with Jackson.
Dawkins was interviewed on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, and said the gang story was a bit of a red herring.
“Anytime a guy is about to hit free agency, all of a sudden things begin to leak out, so to speak,” Dawkins said, via the Washington Post. “I don’t like that part of it for any team. The Eagles aren’t the only team that has done that. Other teams do the same thing because they wrap that around business. This happens in business. I don’t like that part of it.
“But I will say this, this is not something that all of a sudden had the gang affiliation thing tied to it and that was the thing that they only looked at it — they being the Eagles — looked at to say: ‘You know what? This is the thing we’re going to allow him to walk for.’ No, it was all the other things that have happened over the time that he’s been here, and the things he has not corrected in his character, some of the things that he does when in the building with coaches and the like, that they were concerned about.”
Dawkins then talked about some of the specifics that might have led to the change, beginning with coach Chip Kelly’s attention to detail, which Jackson may not have shared. Dawkins also suggested that Kelly’s problem with Jackson wasn’t a cultural divide, saying: “Where did he get a lot of his talent from when he was at Oregon? It wasn’t from the suburbs.”
Dawkins also shared a warning for his former teammate, who was able to cash in with a three-year deal with the Redskins, which will pay him less than he was set to earn with the Eagles.
“It only takes for a couple of mistakes to happen for your brand to be damaged to the point that you cannot earn, or your earning potential begins to be hurt in the capacity of being able to get outside of your neighborhood and earn a living,” Dawkins said. “And so these are the type of things that I’m talking about when it comes to DeSean Jackson. We’re held up on this gang affiliation thing; it’s not just that. It’s being a professional. It’s being able to be counted on to be with your team, do what you’re supposed to do, not skating around the corner, not cut corners, not doing some of the things that he’s allegedly been doing while in Philadelphia.”
While that might be good advice for any player, Jackson’s quick and soft landing in Washington might also be reason for him to believe the release wasn’t his fault.