Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is usually tasked with making life miserable for opposing wide receivers. In a special column for Monday Morning Quarterback, however, Sherman rushed to the defense of embattled wideout DeSean Jackson.
Despite coming off the best season of his NFL career, Jackson was released by the Philadelphia Eagles on March 28:
After careful consideration this offseason, Eagles decide to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 28, 2014
The exact details surrounding the situation are still somewhat unclear, but the prevailing thought seems to be that it had something to do with Jackson potentially having gang ties, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks and A.J. Perez of NJ.com.
Sherman wrote about the fact that he grew up with Jackson in the Los Angeles area, and he admonished the Eagles for making such a rash and presumptuous decision.
I can't tell you what DeSean does with his time, because we play football on opposite ends of the country. I can only tell you that I believe him to be a good person, and if you think, say or write otherwise without knowing the man, you're in the wrong.
And if it's true the Eagles terminated his contract in part because they grew afraid of his alleged "gang ties," then they did something worse.
Sherman compared his own situation to Jackson's. He admitted to keeping friends from the past who have gotten into trouble with the law, but he doesn't believe that it should reflect poorly on him—or Jackson, for that matter.
Sherman also mentioned the fact that Jackson's father passed away in 2009. He brought up the notion that Jackson's friends were there for him in a time of need, and scoffed at the notion that Jackson should have distanced himself from them.
Was DeSean supposed to then say, "Thanks guys, but now that I'm a millionaire, please leave me alone"? Even if he wanted to, he wouldn't have. In desperate times for people who come from desperate communities, your friends become your family. I wouldn't expect DeSean to "distance himself" from anybody, as so many people suggest pro athletes ought to do despite having no understanding of what that means.
Jackson issued a statement regarding the allegations following his release from the Eagles, via Nate Davis of USA Today:
I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible.
I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions.
These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless.
In addition to his Jackson comments, Sherman pointed out what he believes to be a double standard within the NFL.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was recently arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated as well as possession of a controlled substance. Sherman pointed out that there seemed to be a lack of public outrage in the aftermath of that incident.
Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn. Look at the way many in the media wrote about Jim Irsay after his DUI arrest. Nobody suggested the Colts owner had "ties" to drug trafficking, even though he was caught driving with controlled substances (prescription pills) and $29,000 in cash to do who-knows-what with. Instead, poor millionaire Mr. Irsay needs help, some wrote.
Cooper went on to become an integral part of Philadelphia's offense, and he received a slap on the wrist in comparison to Jackson's ultimate punishment.
This offseason they re-signed a player who was caught on video screaming, "I will fight every n—— here." He was representing the Philadelphia Eagles when he said it, because, of course, everything we do is reflective of the organization. But what did they do to Riley Cooper, who, if he's not a racist, at least has "ties" to racist activity? They fined him and sent him to counseling.
For all the criticism that Sherman receives due to his in-your-face style on the field, it is difficult to argue with many of the arguments made in his article.
Jackson's tenure with the Eagles ended in a less-than-ideal manner, but it didn't take him long to bounce back as he inked a deal with the rival Washington Redskins, per CSN Washington:
That means Jackson will have an opportunity to make the Eagles regret their decision at least twice annually.
Sherman's point of view as a player is far different from that of the Eagles organization, and now observers have an opportunity to examine this from all angles and form an opinion of their own.
Sherman and Jackson have had some battles on the field, but it is refreshing to see this type of camaraderie between players off the field. Nobody really knows the circumstances surrounding Jackson's situation, and Sherman did a fantastic job of laying that out.
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