Richard Sherman Writes Spirited Defense of Childhood Friend DeSean Jackson
Bill Jackson, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman writes at MMQB, "picked me up from elementary school 30 minutes away from his home for practice and games because my parents both worked and didn’t finish until later, and I wanted to play baseball with some childhood friends. Bill was a great coach, and a great man. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2009, the summer after his son's rookie season."
Bill Jackson's son is DeSean Jackson, the embattled receiver released by the Philadelphia Eagles last week and signed by the Washington Redskins today. Sherman argues that when Bill Jackson died, DeSean Jackson received support from friends from his neighborhood more than from elsewhere. They stood by him. Why shouldn't Jackson stand by them?
DeSean Jackson could count more than two million reasons why in his 2014 season paychecks. Certainly Chip Kelly, tired of seeing gang signs flashed on the field and in social media depictions of Jackson, tabulated a few reasons why his star receiver should have cut ties. But Sherman applauds Jackson's social decisions. "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. Going to college and playing in the NFL creates a natural distance, but we can't push people away just because they're not as successful as us."
Sherman juxtaposes the Eagles releasing Jackson for alleged gang ties with the team's contract extension for receiver Riley Cooper, caught on camera uttering the n-word at a country music festival, and the commonly-expressed hope that Colts owner Jim Irsay receives "help" after his recent drug arrest. Sherman believes a racial double-standard exists in the way teams and fans treat troubled NFL figures.
The Washington Redskins signed DeSean Jackson to a three-year, $24 million contract on Wednesday. The speedster caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards last season.