One of the more curious stories this offseason has been the Philadelphia Eagles’ apparent haste to jettison DeSean Jackson. The receiver who caught 82 balls for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns last season has been the subject of constant discussion to be traded or even released. If this report from Eliot Shorr-Parks and A.J. Perez at NJ.com is accurate, the off-field circumstances are more clear (bold is ours):
A bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly are the reasons, sources told NJ.com. And when the Eagles looked more deeply into why Jackson was missing meetings, they found that his friends were becoming a more powerful — and negative — influence in his life. Now the Eagles have even more serious concerns — Jackson’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010.
The article cites concern over the Aaron Hernandez spiral, and of Jackson’s exposure to younger teammates. The specific allegations in the report involve Theron Shakir, a rapper on Jackson’s record label who was accused of being a member of the Crips and one of two men charged with murdering a 14-year-old who flashed a rival gang sign in 2010. Shakir, who has been photographed with Jackson on the receiver’s Instagram on multiple occasions, was acquitted of the crime in 2013. Shakir’s co-defendant, Marques Binns, also a purported Crip, was convicted in the trial.
Police have no hard evidence that Jackson, who has a mostly clean police record (minor traffic and marijuana offenses have been plead down), is a member of the Crips, but he has appeared to flash their sign both on Instagram and in a game against the Redskins.
Update II: DeSean Jackson has released a statement denying the allegations in the NJ.com story (Via Adam Schefter):
“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly. I would also like to thank coach Andy Reed for bringing me in. Secondly, 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.”
[Photos via Getty and Larry Brown Sports]