It’s old news now, water under the bridge in the football life of DeSean Jackson. But the speedy receiver was cut by the Eagles in the prime of his career. Why?
It all goes back to a “smear campaign” run by former head coach Chip Kelly in 2014. Kelly never liked Jackson and needed an excuse to get rid of him as he continued to shape the roster in his image. He didn’t want any divas or swagger — those terms aren’t being used here as negatives — in his locker room.
Jackson was coming off a season where he had posted career highs in receptions (82) and receiving yards (1,332) for the NFC East champion Eagles. There was really no legitimate way to get rid of a player of Jackson’s caliber without a scathing scandal. Or without creating one. So, that is what Kelly did.
The long-held belief is that Kelly leaked an egregious story about Jackson’s alleged “gang affiliations” to the media. He needed to find an outlet willing to believe the tall tale and seemingly found it with a reporter at NJ.com. Hook, line, and sinker. The Eagles released Jackson and the rest, as they say, is history.
“When I was released by the Eagles, I feel they tried to paint a picture that definitely wasn’t true. It was a slap in the face, coming off one of my best seasons in the NFL,” Jackson said, via Sports Illustrated, on his 2014 reality show on BET called “DeSean Jackson Home Team.”
“It was a smear campaign. Things media said about me, I bet you could say that about the majority of people in the NFL. I got a second chance to play in the NFL and I’m proving I’m one of the best receivers in the game.”
The reporter has since left NJ.com and the story was never proven accurate. Kelly was eventually fired by the Eagles and went to San Francisco before taking the head job at UCLA. Jackson, of course, is back with the Eagles and ready to prove all his doubters wrong.
Jackson Ready to Soar in Second Act
The first team DeSean Jackson was exiled to after the Eagles released him was Washington. He spent three seasons there and beat the Eagles five times in six matchups. It was something that Jackson took great pleasure in at the time, evidenced by his taunting and mocking his old team. He was mad. He never wanted to leave Philadelphia.
“I’ve always had the same mentality,” Jackson told ESPN. “That’s the fierce competitive edge that I have: Whoever I go against, whether it’s my best friend or my worst enemy, I’ve been trained and programmed to go about my business in an orderly fashion — to beat your opponent and beat him bad.”
Now he’s back and the reunion has been one for the ages. Words cannot describe the crazy emotions that will be churning in his stomach Sunday in the season opener. Ironically, the game is against those same Redskins.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson smiles when talking about Jackson’s dramatic return to Lincoln Financial Field. He already got a warm ovation during the team’s open practice at the stadium. This will be different. This is a regular-season game with 70,000 maniacal Eagles fans cheering.
“I try to let him just feel it, feel the emotion of the game. He’s been in a lot of these,” Pederson said. “I don’t think it’s going to be any different. It’s going to be a great welcome back for him when he makes that first catch or hopefully a touchdown.”
Follow the Heavy Philadelphia Eagles page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!