The Philadelphia Eagles made a bold statement Friday by cutting DeSean Jackson. The team released a brief statement: "After careful consideration this offseason, Eagles decide to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today."
The move comes on the heels of Jackson's most productive year thus far as an Eagle, recording 82 catches for 1,332 yards and 9 touchdowns. In today's NFL, it is unheard of for a playmaking receiver who is in his prime to be cut loose. So how did he end up without a job? How did his relationship with the Eagles sour?
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly had grown tired of Jackson's attitude and distractions in the locker room. It's been reported that Jackson skipped team meetings, had questionable work ethic and did not fit the mold of what Kelly is trying to build in Philadelphia. Per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "I've been told by sources this has something to do with Kelly and the kind of culture he's trying to create. "This move solidifies the fact that Kelly has control of this team, and clearly values the chemistry and solidarity of his players.
The real reason may lie beyond the locker room. Earlier, the NJ Times reported that they uncovered information regarding Jackson's potential gang connections. The New England Patriots have dealt with similar issues with former tight end Aaron Hernandez. If there is indeed a gang connection with Jackson, it would not be surprising that the Eagles acted swiftly.
Shortly after his release, Jackson issued the following statement: "I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible.
"I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions.
"These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless."
It's refreshing to see that regardless of how fast you can run, how many footballs you can catch or how many touchdowns you score, some organizations will hold their team in a higher regard than one player. While Jackson will certainly catch more footballs and score more touchdowns in his career, he won't be doing it as a Philadelphia Eagle.
Jackson concludes his career as an Eagle with 356 receptions, 6,117 yards and 39 total touchdowns.