Disposable Parts: DeSean Jackson, The Philadelphia Eagles and an Oversimplification of Their Ugliness

When news of DeSean Jackson’s release by the Philadelphia Eagles first broke, my first reaction was wow, but that reaction was replaced with a sour taste moments after. In those moments after the initial Twitter and Facebook updates, an article ran on NJ.com alleging DeSean to be associated with two murders attributed to Crips back in LA; the implication was that these are his friends and they’re murderers, so of course, he’s a murderer too. In the wake of last summer’s Aaron Hernandez saga, there was urgency in the need to drop their top receiver and not trade him, “because we (the Eagles) didn’t want to unload his problems on another team”. There’s only one problem; the article is based loosely on facts and Instagram photos and one of the subjects was acquitted of murder and the happened in front of a house his sister was renting.

I wonder if Ronald McDonald is linked to all of the crimes that happen in his establishments daily.

What has really bothered me is over the last few months at the institution of so-called higher learning at which I work, I’ve seen this same type of behavior towards students of color, specifically Black males. Faculty members engage a student (passive) aggressively and once the student reacts, they become a threat and now have to be removed from the class and sit before a disciplinary committee. The fear of Black men, real and imagined, is enough for students to be dismissed from college, for a team to absolve itself of a now-unwanted contract and of course to be stalked and killed in a gated community.

We’ll do what’s best for our team

That’s what Eagles head coach Chip Kelly a few days before the team cut Jackson, a day after the trade talk was reportedly put to rest. For weeks the Eagles have been tossing items at the wall regarding Jackson hoping one would stick with its fan base, garnering the support for trading arguably their best playmaker. However, after 82 receptions, over 1300 yards, nine touchdowns and being a threat each snap, nothing worked, until they were able to connect to the gang ties. For their part, the Eagles are trying to sell this is a football-related decision, blaming Jackson’s work ethic and attitude, that’s the word they’re leaking to ESPN and other outlets. They knew that wouldn’t fly with their rabid fans, especially in a city where it’s most recent sports icon gave a press conference about practice.

The reaction to the gang story was what you could expect, a chorus of “he had to go” and “we know what happened with Aaron Hernandez” and of course the old-time adage, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. The problem is, sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s just a smokescreen. Or a smoke bomb in this case. A smoke bomb to mask the fact that Chip Kelly believes wide receivers to be nothing more than moving parts in his system and after an unexpected division title, the city has bought it to that system. With Jeremy Maclin returning from injury, Riley Cooper’s new contract and a deep crop of receivers in this year’s draft, Jackson and the $10.7 million he was owed became expendable.  

A funny thing about systems: Andy Reid’s system worked until it didn’t and Phil Jackson’s system has never been tried without the best player in the league and not having the most talented personnel in key positions can cause system failures like low enrollment, high turnover and a disgruntled consumer base.

Chip Kelly will go unscathed in this fiasco, but he’s not without fault. There were whispers that Jackson wasn’t one of “his guys”, which really earned him his exit, but Kelly has to realize this isn’t college, where the boys are on scholarship, playing on a hope and a dream of making it to the NFL. These are grown men, making millions of dollars and while they may not all be your favorites, they deserve to be treated as men, not roster slots. But that’s the way of the world in the NFL; they sell everyone on the shield and emblem on the helmet, rendering the name on the back of the jersey disposable. The team eats the youth of its players and then spits them out with a lifetime of concussion and aches, once they no longer fit a system or their salary exceeds their prescribed value to that team.

I’ve come to expect about this much from sports franchises, the telephone tough guys and Internet thugs who chimed in on the conversation, but I was extremely disappointed in the people who look like me and DeSean that fell in line with the decision like a Manchurian candidate. Those so blinded by fandom they couldn’t reconcile the smear campaign with their status of being Black in America. For those of us not signed to a $50 million contract, it will take much less than 1,738 and an afternoon of ESPN "analysts" to take us down, despite our connections to the community, participation in anti-bullying campaigns and commitment to alma maters. That was all it took for folks to forget all that Jackson did in the city of Philadelphia and back in his hometown of Los Angeles. The same way New York City sells “Stop & Frisk” to Central Park and my gig muddied the waters while removing people of color from its faculty, the Philadelphia Eagles smeared DeSean Jackson’s name and reduced his chances at another big payday with the way this all played out.

While teams lineup and certainly begin their independent investigations into DeSean Jackson’s private life, I’ll start dissociating myself from all the felons and thugs I’ve known throughout life. I’ll be cutting my friends down a considerable amount, but I guess I could always find a would-be hate crime offender to rely on like the Eagles. That’s pretty much what Jason Kelce and the organization did yesterday; they chose a story filled with holes over the guy who would “kill all the niggers in here”. Think it’s time to talk about the racial divide in the city of Philadelphia?

Leave a respond