Did Eagles overreact on DeSean?

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. (Michael Perez/AP)
Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. (Michael Perez/AP)
Posted: April 04, 2014

When Serena Williams of the United States won the gold medal for women's singles at the 2012 London Olympics - a 63-minute thrashing of Maria Sharapova - she was so overjoyed she broke into a brief dance right there on the fabled lawn of Wimbledon's center court.

Because Williams is young and black, that moment turned into a short-lived story in which the dance was identified as "The Crip Walk" or "C-Walk," a move with origins tied to the notorious Los Angeles gang. In the 40-odd years it has been around, it has also become a line-dance staple of weddings and bar mitzvahs and the like, where it has been performed, usually badly, by a lot of white people. Hey, anything that gets rid of "The Chicken Dance" is fine by me.

This is a gotcha world, however, so people pretended to be horrified by what Williams had done, failing to understand that, to Williams, it was just a dance. That she was criticized for doing it on the hallowed stage of the Olympics, which took some of its most beloved rituals, like the torch relay, from those pageant-loving Nazis in 1936, was particularly ironic.

If origin matters, then it matters. If not, then it doesn't. You can't pick and choose based on culture.

It may eventually come out that DeSean Jackson's alleged ties to L.A. gang culture are more than just symbolic, but based on the facts in evidence, that doesn't seem to be the case. When he flashes a sign that originated within a gang, it might not be the smartest thing in the world, or the best thought-out, but, like Serena's dance is just a dance, it's just a sign. Whether it is a nod to hometown, to roots, to community, to whatever, it is important to Jackson that he represents in that manner. It is part of the whole DeSean act, and you either accept that or you don't.

The Eagles organization accepted it willingly until Chip Kelly came along. Jackson had his minor scrapes with Andy Reid, but nothing that prevented him from receiving the five-year, $48 million contract he signed in 2012. The fact is that nothing about Jackson appears to have changed in the last year, but everything changed about the Eagles. Everything being Kelly.

We still don't know exactly why the Eagles released DeSean Jackson last week, and we might never know. The convenient timing of the story that alleged a growing organizational concern about Jackson's gang ties - a concern that doesn't seem to be shared by the police - and the lockdown silence from the NovaCare bunker since his release, make for easy two-plus-two math: Boy, there must be a whole lot more going on and they just can't talk about it.

Well, there better be a lot more going on, otherwise the perception the Eagles have allowed to take root concerning Jackson is a poor reflection on the character of the organization. For that answer, we have to wait.

The Washington Redskins, and if Jackson's agent is to be believed, a long list of other teams, weren't scared away by the uncertainty. Jackson got a three-year deal with $16 million guaranteed on Wednesday, which happens to be $1 million more in guaranteed money than he received in his last contract with the Eagles.

What it looks like from here is that Kelly just didn't care for the act, and Kelly gets what he wants these days. That Jackson can be a pain is not breaking news. He has a history of spotty dedication to preparation - whether in meetings or practice - and he likes to mouth off, sometimes to coaches, and he's not a huge fan of downfield blocking.

It might be that last bit that tore it for Kelly. If he were still coaching college, he would have told the kid to transfer. Instead, he did the professional equivalent. Release him and spend the money ($10.25 million in base 2014 salary) on a player who isn't as annoying.

Kicking an explosive weapon and 1,300 receiving yards out the door is hard to justify on the surface, but Kelly was the one who got Jackson those yards and he apparently figures he can get them just as easily for someone else.

All of which is fine, and there would be nothing wrong with the Eagles' taking ownership of the decision. If it turns out there isn't any more than that to the story, the organization, starting with Jeff Lurie, should be ashamed. It is getting very bad advice.

This might be one of those cases where there is actually less than meets the eye, not more, and the perception is merely distorted. Sometimes, as Freud said, a cigar is just a cigar.

And, sometimes, a dance is just a dance.



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