The Eagles have released star receiver DeSean Jackson. The move is something of a surprise—though he was likely done in Philly, they might have gotten something for him in a trade—but the timing is fascinating. The announcement came exactly 35 minutes after the publication of an NJ.com article alleging the Eagles were concerned about Jackson's possible gang ties.
There is a lot to unpack here. First the facts, uncovered by Eliot Shorr-Parks and A.J. Perez:
- Jackson was contacted by an LAPD detective seeking information on a 2010 gang-related murder in Los Angeles. Jackson was not a suspect, but police believe he may have had information about a suspect in the murder, Theron Shakir. Shakir, a purported Crips member, is a rapper who has worked on Jackson's record label, and the two have been photographed together. (Shakir was acquitted of the murder.)
- In 2012, another gang-related murder took place outside a party in Los Angeles. The building was owned or leased by a member of Jackson's family, and some documents belonging to him were found inside. Police attempted to contact Jackson, who was not a suspect, but were unable to get in touch with him.
- Jackson had a previously unreported arrest in 2009 for marijuana possession, tinted windows, and disturbing the peace.
Then, there are the implications. The LAPD detective, Eric Crosson, clearly believes Jackson himself is part of the Crips gang. His evidence includes Jackson throwing up supposed Crip gang signs in photos, even on the field in NFL games. Also, the name of Jackson's record label—Jaccpot—because, according to Crosson, "Crips avoid putting a 'C' next to a 'K' because in gangspeak, that stands for 'Crip Killer.'"
According to Shorr-Parks and Perez, the Eagles are concerned that all of this has the potential for a very bad situation. They don't have to say it outright, since everyone else will, but Aaron Hernandez is on everyone's mind.
The timing of Jackson's release can't be a coincidence. The Eagles knew this story was coming. Once it was published, Jackson's trade value would become zero. (Or, more sinisterly, the "sources within the Eagles organization" that contributed to this story did so to publicly justify Jackson's release.)