Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
The divorce between DeSean Jackson and the Philadelphia Eagles was never about irreconcilable differences, it was about tough love and one side throwing up its hands before things spiraled completely out of control.
The Washington Redskins are now going through the exact same thing with the enigmatic receiver.
When the Eagles released Jackson in March of 2014, it seemed strange on the surface because he was coming off his best season, compiling 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in his first campaign under the offensive genius of Chip Kelly.
And on paper, Jackson was a perfect fit for Kelly’s innovative offensive mind, a versatile player who could line up all over the field and serve as the ultimate home run hitter, a skill set that created what Kelly wants most, spacing on the field.
So what went wrong?
The Eagles played up Jackson’s potential ’14 salary cap hit, which would have been well into eight figures, as the biggest issue but the real elephant in the room was the receiver’s behavior, and not the diva-like attitude like many of his peers also have, his complaints about assistant coaches, or any of his previous belly-aching over money.
It was the company Jackson kept.
Two months before Jackson was released by the Eagles, Jackson’s South Philadelphia residence was robbed with Jackson telling police that $20,000 in cash was stolen as well as a handgun and jewelry valued at over $100,000 despite no sign of forcible entry.
Two league sources confirmed to FanRagSports.com at the time that the issue raised some serious red flags within the Eagles organization and a police source later admitted potential gang activity was explored.
TMZ Sports ran with that angle and unearthed a picture of Jackson flashing gang signs with rapper Nipsey Hussle. In the photograph, Jackson was clearly shown throwing a hand signal for the Rollin’ 40s Crips, a street gang from the west side of South Los Angeles, Jackson’s hometown.
It was at least the second time the former All-Pro made that mistake. He also was seen throwing up a Crips gang sign at now teammate DeAngelo Hall on the field back in September of ’13.
Jackson also paid homage to his favorite gang by naming his record label “Jaccpot Records” with the Cs standing for Crips. Meanwhile, in the video of a song titled “Diamonds on My Neck,” featuring another famous former crip, Snoop Dogg, DeSean repeatedly threw similar gang signs.
Jackson’s apologists have claimed the mere appearance of impropriety means nothing and point to the fact that while his behavior can be described as boorish at times, the star receiver has never gotten into any major off-the- field incidents.
And when Jackson was released by the Eagles, he denied reports linking him with the Crips.
“I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang,” Jackson said at the time. “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.”
Perhaps the reckless and irresponsible part is surrounding yourself with gang members and flashing gang signs.
This week another home belonging to Jackson was the scene of a violent home invasion, with TMZ Sports reporting at least one person was pistol-whipped.
Jackson’s publicist Denise White confirmed the report, noting Jackson wasn’t at the Los Angeles-area home when as many as five armed individuals invaded the house, and were fought off by about six people inside.
“He had no knowledge of the incident until a phone call last evening. It’s a legal matter,” White told TMZ. “We’re waiting for police to let us know more about the incident.”
It’s completely unfair to bring up the name of Aaron Hernandez when discussing the Jackson situation save for one fact — the Patriots ignored Hernandez’s reported gang affiliation for far too long and unknowingly enabled the behavior which eventually put Hernandez in prison on murder charges.
It’s possible and perhaps fair to say Jackson has moved past any real gang ties and only throws the signs in an effort to retain some sort “street credibility” for a potential rap career.
His previous employer, however, made a business decision deciding Jackson was an immature guy more concerned about earning the respect of his “friends” from L.A., a man who sees football as just a job in which his athleticism enabled the money to come far too easily.
In their minds, Jackson’s unwillingness or inability to leave a maladjusted group behind despite having the means, opportunity and obligation to do so, was the last straw. The Redskins are now racing to the same conclusion.
Gruden on reports of invasion at DeSean Jackson's Calif. home: "He'll get to the bottom of it, as will the police, and we'll go from there."
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) October 23, 2015
-John McMullen is the national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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