Irving Domingo Lorenzo, Jr., aka Irv Gotti, named himself after a mafia boss and started a record company called Murder, Inc. In a weekend essay at Rolling Stone, the rap mogul plays character witness for DeSean Jackson.
The man misses his own irony.
The Eagles cut DeSean Jackson on Friday, for, among other transgressions, his alleged associations with members of the Crips. Why would a man with admitted gang ties believe that he would help Jackson any more than the receiver’s boys in the ‘hood already have “helped” him in helping him to lose $30 million of a $50 million contract?
Irv Gotti’s point isn’t that the All Pro stands as “a pillar of the community,” as the Daily Beast‘s Marlow Stern remarkably maintains, in eschewing gang culture for volunteerism and do-gooderism. He concedes the premise that Jackson maintains friendships with individuals who much of Mainstream America, i.e., the NFL’s fan base, finds unsavory. Gotti contends that such gang connections come naturally to anyone growing up in Ghetto America.
“I didn’t grow up with DeSean,” the Hollis, Queens-native concedes. “But I can bet the neighborhood in which he grew up was similar. With gang members. There is no way to really escape it. It’s just a part of your upbringing. And these drug dealers or gang members become part of your family.”
Isn’t that a good reason for the Eagles to not want him in their family?
Mainstream America may not, as Gotti contends, understand the difficulties of cleansing oneself from the gang culture after marinating in it for eighteen years. But nine months after Aaron Hernandez’s arrest, the Eagles and other NFL teams stand on guard for warning signs that the gang stain remains. Jackson and his famous defender don’t seem to get that.
Just as Gotti’s Murder, Inc. label shouted “no-goodnik” to anyone bothering to listen, the peculiar name of Jackson’s rap label–yes, he owns one–screams fealty to the Crips. The receiver calls his company “Jaccpot Records,” which carefully deletes the “ck” in “jackpot,” allegedly in deference to the Crips’ taboo on these letters (short for “crip killer”) appearing sequentially. Bill Belichick might have missed the meaning behind Aaron Hernandez’s Bloods tattoo–Were not the man’s initials foreshadowing enough?–but Chip Kelly has seen enough to know that he doesn’t want to see anymore. Find another enabler.
Irv Gotti’s got a message for anyone who thought that NFL discrimination meant the league rule prohibiting white guys from playing defensive back: racism cut DeSean Jackson. Yes, exactly, the NFL operates just like the KKK when it comes to hiring and firing wide receivers. Rolling Stone could have at least provided a laugh track to accompany the article to cue readers of its satiric intent. Think of all those white receivers awarded massive contracts because of the systemic racism of the NFL, Wayne Chrebet and Wes Welker and Wayne Chrebet and Chris Collinsworth and Steve Largent and Wayne Chrebet. Racism didn’t get Keyshawn the damn ball and prevented Terry Glenn from wearing a Super Bowl ring and bounced Terrell Owens out of Philly. Did I mention Wayne Chrebet?
Though Gotti doesn’t juxtapose the Eagles extending Riley Cooper, who made the wrong kind of headlines through a drunken n-word rant at a country music concert last summer, with the Eagles release of Jackson, he nevertheless finds the whole affair racist. “And this is what got me going watching Ron Jaworski assassinate DeSean Jackson’s character,” he confessed. “It’s f—ed up! And I understand Ron’s mindset, which is the mindset of America: ‘You made it, you dumb n—a. You’re making 10 million a year, you dumb n—a. Get rid of your friends from the hood, you dumb n—a. They gonna bring you down, you dumb n—a. You’re gonna end up right back in the hood, you dumb n—a.’ I get it! Trust me I do!”
Does he? One of the rap producer’s childhood associates, now an incarcerated drug kingpin, allegedly helped bankroll his musical entrepreneurialism, which sicced a district attorney on the record exec a few years back. Gotti, who escaped a guilty verdict, nevertheless lost millions because of his choice of friends just as DeSean Jackson lost millions because of his pals. Still, Gotti posits, “The crazy thing is this: Society probably calls these people the scum of the earth. The drug dealers. Killers. Monsters. Animals. But I call them my friends! Weird, right? But I know these people. I have been friends with them since I was a 12, 13, 14 years old. I know in their hearts that they would love a different life, but they are trapped. And they know the world don’t love them or give a f— about them.”
The feeling is mutual. That’s why in the post-Aaron Hernandez NFL, many teams don’t want to have anything to do with a receiver who flashes gang signs against opposing cornerbacks and broadcasts such idiocy on Instagram. Pros like that don’t give a fudge about their teammates or their coaches or their communities. That’s what those hand signs mean to NFL GMs who don’t speak Gang.
The Eagles, not DeSean Jackson, felt “trapped” by his eight-figure deal. They gave Jackson a “different life.” But unlike fellow Long Beach Poly grad Tony Gwynn and Little League teammate Richard Sherman, Jackson chose to remain in the environment he should have left behind. His friends didn’t act like them.
And a character reference for NFL GMs to mull over that comes from a man who glamorizes evil in rechristening himself “Gotti” and by naming his record company in rebellion against the most obvious of the Ten Commandments doesn’t do DeSean Jackson any favors.