After ESPN reported allegations that DeSean Jackson had gang ties, the Philadelphia Eagles released him and it other NFL teams may keep away from the wide receiver. After a career best season for Jackson, it was a shocking to him and the Eagles players and fans that he would not come back for next season.
And the ESPN report has started poisoning Jackson with other franchises. The Chicago Bears, who are looking for a wide receiver, may believe that the salary expectations and the alleged gang affiliations Jackson is carrying outweighs his outstanding abilities on the field and what he could bring to team scoring production.
Jackson, a three time Pro Bowler, denies any ties to gangs and ex-New York Giant running back Derrick Ward has stepped into his corner. Via Twitter, Ward has slammed the Eagles for releasing Jackson, and going after ESPN for reporting the alleged ties. Ward pointed out that Jackson has never been suspended from the league, never tested positive for drugs, never had a DUI.
This is a tough decision for any team to make and in this case it may taint a potential Hall of Fame career. Gang ties, alleged or not, may cause many top NFL teams away from DeSean Jackson and potentially end his career. However, alleged or not, the Eagles and the NFL want a positive appearance on and off the field.
Most teams would not cut one of their top players just for allegations. The Eagles were sure to investigate the allegations fully before bring Jackson in to notify him he was being released. In a statement after being released, Jackson had nothing negative to say about the Eagles in any way and denied any affiliation with any gang.
It seems odd however, that the Eagles did release Jackson. In 2009 they signed Michael Vick. Vick brought a major black eye to the league and his team. He was suspended by the NFL and sentenced to prison for 23 months. When he was free to return to the NFL, the Eagles took a chance on him and he played in Philadelphia from 2009 to 2013.
While the Eagles are not stating the exact reasons why Jackson was released, the fact that they did release him instead of trading him speaks volumes. After catching 82 passes and scoring nine touchdowns last season, Jackson was being shopped on the trade front up until the allegations tainted his value.
Being released, no mater how much Jackson denies gang affiliations, teams are going to be questioning if he is a safe pick up. He has a tag attached to him now that says broken goods, and that could cause for an early end for his career in the NFL.
The NFL requires that anyone associated with the league should avoid conduct that could be detrimental to the integrity of the league. Alleged gang ties by DeSean Jackson, real or not, may just be enough for NFL teams to want to keep away to avoid bringing a potential negative influence onto the team. If Jackson can clear up these alleged ties to gangs, he could be a key addition to a struggling offense at a bargain price.
Commentary by Carl Auer