Thirty-four-year-old wide receivers aren’t hot commodities in the NFL. But it doesn’t mean they can’t be intriguing.
DeSean Jackson is a man without a home, as he was recently released by the Philadelphia Eagles after two injury-plagued seasons with the team that drafted him. There’s a chance that this could be the end for Jackson, as retirement could be in his plans. Or, if healthy, he could keep at it in efforts to extend his highlight-filled career, as he has the most 60-plus-yard touchdowns in league history with 24, ranking him sixth all-time in yards per reception (17.4), according to ESPN.
But, for many, this won’t be about what Jackson can and can’t do on a football field anymore. That all changed last summer when he “unknowingly” posted anti-Semitic fake Hitler quotes while playing for a team that has a Jewish owner, Jeffrey Lurie, while the country was in the middle of one of its most historic racial uprisings. Jackson wound up being fined by the Eagles and was able to keep his job. Lurie didn’t exactly have a choice, as he set a precedent in 2013 when he fined Jackson’s former teammate Riley Cooper, but didn’t suspend him, after Cooper was caught on video, shouting “I will jump that fence and fight every (N-word) here, bro,” at a concert.
Cooper kept playing after his incident, and injuries and age eventually led to his retirement a few seasons later. Jackson’s career could play out the same way, except there’s one glaring difference between the two.
Cooper is white. Jackson is Black.
And with the way that America has always been set up, this country will forgive a white person for saying something racist. That grace is rarely extended to Black people. This is also the NFL we’re talking about, a league that says it wants to “end racism” while still willingly taking part in it.
According to reports, the Eagles are expected to move on from Alshon Jeffrey, as Jackson won’t be the only veteran wide receiver not in Philly next season. Personnel changes are par for the course when a new regime takes over, as the Eagles will have a new starting quarterback (Jalen Hurts) and head coach (Nick Sirianni) next season.
“Looking forward to my next chapter. Philadelphia it’s always Love. Appreciate Everything,” Jackson posted on social media, as he prepares to see what’s next. Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how NFL front offices, teams, and fanbases handle the idea of Jackson joining their locker room after what happened last summer. Because in case you forgot, this is a league where a large part of its fanbase is against growth, redemption, and unity when it comes to Black people.
That clip is a reminder of just how insane things can get in the NFL, as you can get booed for unity, while millions didn’t flinch as they watched a Super Bowl that featured two men — Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown — with histories of domestic violence.
It’s just the way things are in this country. But, I do know that if DeSean Jackson were white, I wouldn’t be questioning whether or not his past transgressions would be a hindrance to his potential employment. In 2014, the Eagles signed Riley Cooper to a five-year, $25 million extension, with $10 million guaranteed, after he was already proven to be a racist.