Jackson expresses eagerness to play for Redskins

WASHINGTON REDSKINS WEBSITE DeSean Jackson says he was humbled by his sudden release, and was grateful that Redskins stars Robert Griffin III and DeAngelo Hall reached out to him.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS WEBSITE DeSean Jackson says he was humbled by his sudden release, and was grateful that Redskins stars Robert Griffin III and DeAngelo Hall reached out to him.
Posted: April 04, 2014

DESEAN JACKSON called getting released by the Eagles "a challenging situation to be in," in a radio interview yesterday, and he added, "easily, it can make or break somebody. But I feel I'm very tough, and I'm at that point in my career where it's not going to do nothing but bring out the better in me."

Jackson didn't discuss what he thought led to the team's extraordinary action, either while talking to Washington's ESPN 980 or earlier, in a media conference call in which only Washington-area reporters were allowed to ask questions.

"I don't feel like I need to sit here and harp on certain things," Jackson said to his radio interviewers.

They will be harped upon, nonetheless. Jackson blazed to a career year in his first (and only) season with Chip Kelly, 82 catches for 1,332 yards. ESPN noted on Twitter that no 80-catch, 1,200-plus-yard receiver had ever switched teams to a divisional foe the very next season, in NFL history, before Jackson signed his 4-year deal (really 3 with an automatic voiding fourth) with the Redskins yesterday. Washington will pay the Eagles' three-time Pro Bowl wideout $8 million a year, the first 2 years' haul of $16 million guaranteed. That's $1 million more in guarantees than Jackson got in his 5-year, $48 million Eagles extension 2 years ago, and the richest contract given to a free-agent wide receiver this year.

"Honestly, man, I'm not really here to address that," Jackson said, when asked on the conference call about being cut free at age 27, in good health, just as an NJ.com story detailed alleged connections between Jackson and the Crips. The Eagles have given no explanation for the move. There have been reports that Kelly didn't like Jackson's attitude or work habits.

"I feel people that really know me and know what type of player I am, they respect me and they know I'm a team guy and I just go out there and put in on the line," Jackson said.

He called the Redskins "a group of guys that would love to play with me and kind of stepped up and supported me and supported my situation."

Jackson talked about how much it meant to him that Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and cornerback DeAngelo Hall "reached out to me" in the wake of his Friday release by the Eagles, RGIII even paying Jackson a visit at his California home.

"I was at a point in my career where I was very humble, for everything to go down, to happen the way it happened," he said.

Jackson revisited the "humility" theme.

"Like I said, it was a humbling experience for myself, me being at the peak of my career and doing some great things in this league my first 6 years . . . I think I'm very humbled, for me to be where I'm at and for me to be released like that," he said. "At the same time, I feel moving forward is the best thing for me."

Asked about having had to put out a statement Friday declaring he was not a gang member, Jackson said it was "the right thing to do at the right time."

"Eventually, I think people will really understand and see the real DeSean Jackson, and not see the painted picture that was put out on me. The best thing I can say is I'm moving forward, I'm going to do everything I need to do to be a Washington Redskin and to do my job to the utmost and be respected by people in this league and people in this organization . . . There's a lot of things to look forward to here," Jackson said.

Police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia have told the Daily News that they have no evidence of Jackson being in a gang, and that he is not under investigation.

Because the Eagles failed to find a trade partner, their fans will get to revisit the Jackson saga twice a year, when they face their NFC East rivals of less than 150 miles to the South. Jackson is an extraordinary gift to a 3-13 Redskins team that struggled to stretch defenses last season. Jackson has 17 touchdowns of 50-plus yards since his rookie season of 2008, the most of any player in the league.

"Anytime you have an opportunity to get a 'splash' player like DeSean Jackson, you have to do your best to get him," Redskins first-year coach Jay Gruden said in a statement released by the team. "Fortunately, [general manager] Bruce Allen and [owner] Dan Snyder got it done."

During the radio interview, Jackson briefly expressed remorse, presumably for the work habits that soured the Eagles on their fourth-all-time receiving yards leader.

"No one man is perfect," he said. "There's things I've done, me being immature, me being young," but he indicated those indiscretions lie squarely in the past.

The cover the Eagles received for their decision by basically linking the announcement of his release to the "gang ties" story seems pretty tattered, with another team stepping up so quickly and providing such a hefty guarantee. Clearly, the Redskins are not all that concerned about Jackson's associates.

In both interviews, Jackson made it clear he was flattered by Washington's ardent wooing.

"They made me feel like this was home," he said, calling it "an open-arms situation."

Jackson told his radio hosts he and Gruden "just vibed out" at a Morton's steak restaurant in the D.C. area Monday night.

"He got a good feel for the type of guy I am, and vice versa," Jackson said.

"I made sure that bill was kind of high for them. I got the extra steak," joked Jackson, 5-10 and a generously listed 178 pounds. "He's sittin' there watchin', like, 'Man you can eat a little bit,' I'm like, 'I'm not even gainin' no weight, coach!' "

In Jackson and Pierre Garcon, the Redskins now have starting wideouts with more speed and glitter than the Eagles' presumed starting duo of Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, pending next month's NFL draft.

Jackson told the conference call he hadn't settled on a new number. He indicated he might try to persuade RGIII to take No. 3, and give Jackson his familiar No. 10. In the radio interview, Jackson said he plans to wear No. 4 initially, but once the regular season arrives, wide receivers are not allowed to wear single-digit numbers.

Jackson was asked more than once about facing the Eagles, and he apparently feels the same way every player in the situation of playing his former team always feels. Jackson joked about not being able to find the visiting locker room at Lincoln Financial Field.

"Definitely, I'll be very excited, stoked, to play the Eagles," he said in the radio interview. "Who wouldn't be, you know, after everything that went down, that happened the way it did? Just ready for the change, man."

On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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