View Count: 388 |  Publish Date: April 05, 2014
Eagles' DeSean Jackson speaks about his release
Jeff McLane, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Saturday, April 5, 2014, 3:01 AM
DeSean Jackson said that Chip Kelly told him of his release from the Eagles via a phone call, but that the coach didnt offer a specific reason other than to say that it was decision that was best for the team and the Pro Bowl wide receiver.
"When he called me it was basically, like, Were moving forward. I think its best for the team. I think its best for yourself, " Jackson said during an interview Friday conducted by and aired on ESPN. "At the same time, I was sitting there waiting for a reason why."
Jackson said that Kelly repeated that the Eagles were "moving forward" when he asked for a specific reason, and that the coach added: "Were going to go let you negotiate with 31 other teams."
For whatever reason, there were only a handful of teams that expressed more than a passing interest in Jackson, and ultimately he signed with the Redskins on Wednesday.
More coveragePOLL: What position should the Eagles target in the draft?Top wide receivers in upcoming draft VOTE: Who benefits most from DeSeans move?DeSean gets 3-year deal with Redskins PHOTOS: Desean Jackson through the years WATCH: How will Eagles replace Jacksons numbers? Now that DeSean Jackson is gone, what position should the Eagles draft? A wide receiver.A safety.The best available player. View results While he admitted to past mistakes and being late for meetings, Jackson denied once again that he had ever been a part of a gang, although neither the Eagles nor an story ever said that he was a member.
Jackson was released about 35 minutes after the story, which detailed some of his connections to reputed members of the Los Angeles-based Crips gang, was posted on March 28.
"It was, from my point of view, very disrespectful," Jackson said of the article. "I dont think it was right, straight up."
The Los Angeles-born Jackson did say, though, that he remained friends with gang members.
"Do I know friends that are out there involved? Yes," Jackson said. "I try to stay away from them. I dont try to intervene and do things of any nature that has anything to do with negative activities."
Jackson said the hand signals hes used during games and posted in pictures on social media were not gang related, but "shout outs" that kept him connected to his friends from home.
The NFL Players Association said on Friday that the timing of Jacksons release following the story "raised concerns because it put in question whether or not the Eagles were using the gang affiliation story to harm his reputation on the open market."
Asked if he believed the Eagles leaked the story to, Jackson said: "I would hope not." The interviewer followed up and asked if his answer was a "no."
"Yes, thats a no," Jackson said.
The Eagles, who have not publicly answered questions about Jacksons release, did not comment following his interview.
Jackson, who was slated to earn $10.25 million in 2014 and had three years and $30 million remaining on his contract with the Eagles - none of which was guaranteed - signed a three-year, $24 million deal with $16 million guaranteed with the Redskins.
In January, two days after the season ended, Jackson was asked if he wanted a new contract, and he responded by saying that he thought he was "deserving."
About a month and a half later, stories started to surface that the Eagles could be looking to trade or even release Jackson because he did not fit in Kellys program.
Kelly said on March 26 at the NFL owners meetings that he had no issues with Jackson and that the receiver had a good work ethic. And yet, there was a CBS Philly report on Friday - that relied solely on anonymous quotes - that characterized Jackson as selfish, not liked by his teammates, and prone to cursing out Kelly in front of the team.
One player was quoted as saying Jackson was a "me-guy."
"I dont think its real. I dont think its right," Jackson said. He continued: "Have I always been perfect? Have I always done things the right way? No. Have I learned and found a better way of doing things? Yes."
Prior to Kellys arrival, Jackson was suspended one game by former coach Andy Reid for missing a meeting. The receiver also admitted that he let his contract situation affect his performance in 2011.
But he was never suspended by Kelly last season, nor publicly reprimanded. Jackson did admit to hanging with the wrong types of people early in his career and to being late to meetings.
"For sure, Ive been late. Im not going to lie about that," he said. "Ive been late to meetings before. I missed one meeting probably out of my whole career. But at the end of the day, once again, were not perfect."
Most of Jacksons ex-Eagles teammates had not come out and lobbied for his return either before or after his eventual release, but running back LeSean McCoy said on Friday that he would "definitely be missed."
"Hes probably the biggest deep threat in the game," McCoy said. "To lose a guy like that is definitely tough. . . . Obviously, every move is made for a reason."
Jackson said he had a "good relationship" with Kelly and pointed to the success they had on the field and his having "one of the best years on my career." He caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
"Its no negativity there," Jackson said. "Im not here to bad mouth [Kelly] or say anything to put dirt on his name. Its once again a business we play in."
Jackson was not asked about his relationship with receivers coach Bob Bicknell, whom he got into an altercation with on the sidelines during the Vikings game in December.
When asked about Reid and how he differed from Kelly, Jackson noted that his former coach was more of a father figure and that they remained in touch up to his release.
"He was a shoulder I leaned on through this," Jackson said.
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