Carron Phillips was right: Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles couldn’t cut DeSean Jackson.
On Thursday, Phillips said the Eagles could fine and suspend Jackson for posting anti-Semitic messages falsely attribuited to Adolf Hitler and praising Louis Farrakhan on Instagram, but outright releasing him would be terrible optics in light of how the team handled Riley Cooper’s use of the N-word in 2013.
The Eagles issued a statement saying that DJax would be punished (without giving many details) and fined, but he remains with the team.
The Philadelphia Eagles do not tolerate hate towards any individual or group. We believe in respect and equality for all races, ethnicities, and faiths. We as an organization want to help be an instrument for positive change. This can only occur through strong, deliberate actions and a commitment to learn and grow.
We have had a number of constructive conversations over the last few days, not only with DeSean Jackson, but also with many other players, members of the organization, and leaders in the community. That has led us to the point where we and he are ready to take the next steps.
Today we have penalized DeSean for conduct detrimental to the team. He accepted these consequences and apologized. In our many conversations with him, it has also been made clear that this is only the beginning. We have discussed a concrete plan for how we and he can heal moving forward. He understands that in order to remain on the team, he must also commit to supporting his words with actions. We have been encouraged by his desire to educate himself, but we all understand that there is still a lot of work to be done. We will continue to assist DeSean in this process, and we also know that all of us in our organization need to listen and learn more about things that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable to us.
While Jackson is a 33-year-old man who has spent 12 years in the league, including seven years under Lurie, who is Jewish, it seems he has a lot of learning to do. That doesn’t excuse his despicable, hateful behavior, but he does appear willing to educate himself. Jackson said he spent time with a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor, and thanked him for his insight.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is Jewish, reached out to Jackson and invited him to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and said he would also visit the National Museum African American History and Culture.
“I don’t want to distract from how important the Black Lives Matter movement is, and how we need to stay behind it. I think the Black and Jewish communities have a lot of similarities,” Edelman said in an Instagram video.
The backlash may not be completely over for Philadelphia, as another Eagles player, defensive end Malik Jackson (no relation), defended DeSean. Malik called Farrakhan, the controversial Nation of Islam leader cited as anti-Semitic by such groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defemation League, as “honorable.”
In a reply to a fan on Instagram, Malik Jackson said in a now-deleted post:
“the honorable farrakhan is nothing like that vile scum hitler. He speaks the truth and believes in protection of self and that scares ur racist a-s.. 2nd d Jack did not quote anyone he took a picture or [sic] a book that was to invoke thought and conversation.”
DeSean Jackson, who only played two games in 2019, hopes to contribute more than Cooper did after his racist incident. Back in 2013, Michael Vick went out of his way to make Cooper welcome in the Eagles clubhouse, saving his career. Cooper was rewarded with a three-year contract extension, but played very poorly, lasting just two more seasons in the league while catching 76 passes.