SBD/March 31, 2014/Franchises

Eagles Release Of DeSean Jackson Raises Questions, Signals Shift In NFL Culture

Jackson's oddly timed release has brought questions about its circumstances
The time that "elapsed Friday between the posting of NJ.com's story attempting to connect" WR DeSean Jackson "with the Crips and the Eagles' 25-word announcement releasing" their player was about 40 minutes, according to Les Bowen of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. But there is "no way" Owner Jeffrey Lurie, GM Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly "conferred, made such a momentous decision, and crafted the announcement" in that timeframe. It is "pretty clear that the Eagles' brass, unable to find a trade partner at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla., decided that this pending story about gangs was most fortuitous." They would "hold off releasing Jackson until the story broke." Then, with "gang innuendo providing cover, they would make their move, to dramatically reduced outrage" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/31). In Newark, A.J. Perez wrote the Eagles' release of Jackson was "a stunning move that reflects a growing sensitivity" in the NFL to the behavior and backgrounds of players (NJ.com, 3/29). SNY's Chris Carlin said it was a "little bit curious that the story on NJ.com" about Jackson's having gang affiliations and the Eagles releasing him "happened virtually simultaneously. So I don’t know if that's just part of the Eagles getting that out there to soften the blow of getting rid of one of their best offensive playmakers" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 3/28).

WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE
: ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert wrote two "competing thoughts emerged" in the moments after the Eagles released Jackson. Is this "the new NFL, one so chastened by last summer's situation" with former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez that its teams "can't stomach the mere perception that trouble could be brewing?" Or is Jackson "simply a bad character, an outlier even in an industry that takes plenty of character-based risks when the potential reward could be so substantial?" Seifert: "We are unlikely to receive a full accounting of the Eagles' motives, but make no mistake: Their decision Friday was extraordinary in the context of player valuation and projection." The big question is "whether Jackson would still be with the Eagles if Hernandez had not been arrested last summer." Within the NFL, the "most unnerving part of the Hernandez arrest was that the alleged activity took place under the nose of the Patriots' presumably watchful eye." Seifert: "You can bet the other 31 teams took notice and redoubled their efforts to know and understand what their players were up to when away from the practice facility" (ESPN.com, 3/28). ESPN's Andrew Brandt, who previously served in the Packers' front office, said, “A few years ago I remember being in a meeting where gang issues were discussed. The symbols, the imagery, the language, even a phone call we listened in on. An FBI agent presented to these owners meetings, ‘Watch out for these things. Make sure if you see these symbols let us know,’ all kinds of security issues. This is not a new issue” (“OTL,” ESPN, 3/28).
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