The Eagles cut DeSean Jackson almost immediately after NJ.com published a story linking Jackson to gang members, leading to speculation that the Eagles leaked the negative information about Jackson to NJ.com. But NJ.com says that’s not the case.
Eliot Shorr-Parks, one of the two writers of that original NJ.com story, now writes in a follow-up that the Eagles weren’t involved in the reporting on the story relating to Jackson’s alleged gang ties.
“The conspiracy theories surrounding the story are comical,” Shorr-Parks writes. “NJ.com uncovered Jackson’s ties to alleged gang members through its own reporting. The Eagles played no part in NJ.com’s investigation. When asked about Jackson’s alleged gang ties, team officials said they were unaware of the ties and would not comment.”
That’s a surprising statement for NJ.com to make about a story whose headline is, “DeSean Jackson’s gang connections troubling to Eagles.” How did NJ.com know the Eagles were troubled by Jackson’s alleged gang connections if no one affiliated with the Eagles told them that?
The more recent NJ.com story still doesn’t clear up exactly what the timeline was — did NJ.com’s reporting reveal that the Eagles had concerns about Jackson having connections to gangs? Or did the Eagles only learn about these alleged gang connections from NJ.com’s reporting? Complicating things is that NJ.com updated its original story hours after the Eagles cut Jackson, and that update only served to make the timeline more confusing. In the original story (as quoted by the Washington Post), NJ.com wrote, “Now the Eagles have even more serious concerns — Jackson’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members.” But in the updated version of the same story, NJ.com says, “Then, suddenly, the Eagles had even more serious concerns when they were revealed by NJ.com — Jackson’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members.”
The original version suggests that the Eagles already had concerns about Jackson’s association with street gang members, before the NJ.com story was published. The updated version suggests that the Eagles knew nothing about any gang ties until NJ.com published the story.
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has said he is concerned that the Eagles smeared Jackson, and that the union is investigating. The latest NJ.com article says that investigation has already begun, and that NJ.com informed the union that the Eagles were not a source for the story about Jackson.
“When a union official contacted NJ.com sports director Kevin Manahan, the official was told the Eagles provided no information on Jackson’s alleged gang ties,” Shorr-Parks writes.
That’s a straightforward, definitive answer — much more straightforward and definitive than news outlets are usually willing to be about stories that rely on anonymous sources. But it likely won’t serve as the last word on what has become perhaps the biggest story of the NFL offseason.