After benching, Jackson admits contract a bother

DeSean Jackson has had a lot on his mind this season and his contract status appears to have taken away from his play.
DeSean Jackson has had a lot on his mind this season and his contract status appears to have taken away from his play. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 15, 2011

DeSean Jackson's unsettled contract has affected his attitude this year, the Eagles receiver said Monday, noting that it has made it difficult to come to work happy, though he denied any impact on his play.

Jackson explained his mind-set in a meeting with his teammates and coaches.

"I kind of just explained to them the things I've been going through, me not being myself, it being hard for me to come to work and be happy just because of everything that happened," Jackson told reporters in his first comments since being benched Sunday for missing a team meeting Saturday. "I addressed it as a professional, as a man, and I know what I need to do to continue to better myself and put me in the best position possible for my career."

Outsiders, he said, "don't know what I'm going through. I'm the one that has to come to work, I'm the one that has to be here. Everybody can have their opinion and say whatever, but I'm the one that's dealing with it."

The official explanation from Jackson's spokesman was that the receiver missed a special-teams meeting Saturday because he overslept. But when asked Monday whether he overslept or was making a statement, Jackson refused to answer, neither acknowledging nor denying that he was trying to make a point.

"I missed the meeting and my punishment was my punishment, and I'm not going to sit here and ask any other questions or answer any other questions," Jackson said. He said the contract has not affected his play, though, and vowed to just "handle my business."

Jackson said that he and Andy Reid "talked as men," and that he understood the coach had to take action "for the team's sake."

But he repeatedly referred to having a difficult year. He is playing in the final season of his rookie deal, being paid roughly $600,000 even though he has earned two Pro Bowl berths, and there have been no signs of progress on an extension.

"I think everybody knows the contract situation, and as a human being there's just things you have to go through in life," Jackson said. "I'm just ready to continue and go forward. . . .

"I can admit to some things probably that I've done that I need to better," he added.

Jackson will remain a starter, Reid said.

"Nobody is bigger than the football team, and so if you're wrong and in a spot, then you have consequences, too," Reid said, adding that he has punished other players in similar ways.

He said he believes the receiver has learned a lesson.

Pressed on whether the team has handled Jackson properly, Reid said, "I can do better."

"Everybody appreciated DeSean speaking," quarterback Michael Vick said. "It was very mature on his part."

Jackson's voice cracked while he addressed the team, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said.

"I felt he was genuine," he said.

"You can kind of feel where he's coming from. A guy feels that he's put in the time and effort, statistically he's been proven to make plays. . . . I can understand that," Rodgers-Cromartie said.

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.

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