Though the Eagles still have not released a formal statement in regards to the reasoning for cutting ties with receiver DeSean Jackson, and they may never do so, details continue to trickle out painting a picture of the atmosphere that forced Philadelphia to let their top pass-catcher walk after his best season in the NFL. Friday afternoon, the SportsRadioWIP Twitter account released a story from CBS Philly’s Joseph Santoliquito unearthing perhaps some of the most substantial evidence of how things were behind the scenes during the Eagles 2013 season.
Report: DeSean was “blatantly insubordinate” to Chip Kelly, not well-liked by teammates | http://t.co/e3pbqXV7Oa
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) April 4, 2014
Though no one who would have witnessed exactly what happened in the locker room has stepped forward and put their name behind it, Santoliquito’s article cites ‘sources close to and around the team, including current and former players‘. As the rest of the world speculates gang ties, money issues, and systematic differences as the reasoning for the release, this article provides commentary that, on its own, could have warranted such a drastic move.
“Jackson was not very well liked by his teammates, was blatantly insubordinate, with temper tantrums cussing out Kelly several times in front of the team, pushed the NFL rookie coach the way “a child would test boundaries,” and was more concerned with his rap label than he was about winning football games.”
Depending on how much value one places on Santoliquito’s sources within the organization, information such as this is enough to push any team, especially one with a coach wrapping up his first year in the pros, to address the situation with drastic measures. From the sounds of it, Jackson made Chip Kelly’s rookie season particularly difficult and the receiver, now with the Washington Redskins, sealed his own fate long before stories of gang ties started to surface. One has to think, as the NFLPA sets in motion an investigation to determine whether the Eagles conducted a smear campaign against Jackson, more substantial evidence along these lines will continue to round the story into form.
The article chronicles some of the behaviors that made Jackson’s presence in the locker room a toxic one as the team continued their run toward the playoffs. Some interesting comments surrounding Jackson and fellow receiver Jeremy Maclin encapsulated the feeling towards the receiver from his teammates.
“Several other sources also suggested that Jeremy Maclin may have had an issue if Jackson returned to the Eagles in 2014. He wasn’t alone, if that’s true…’The fact is, [Jackson] was a ‘me-guy’ with an attitude problem and [Maclin] is the complete opposite, a team guy, a great character guy you go to war with,’ said one source.”
Another eyebrow-raising detail of the article is that Jackson’s antics stemmed to before Kelly’s arrival. Former coach Andy Reid, the man who drafted Jackson, apparently warranted more respect from the receiver even as he tried to take liberties to see how far he could press his luck. Reid and the former leadership group felt they could corral and manage the actions of Jackson, but when Kelly was brought in it was almost as if a proverbial Doomsday Clock started ticking for the receiver. To have apparently dealt with the sort of blatant disrespect and behavior of DeSean Jackson and still lead the Eagles to a playoff berth in his first season only strengthens the narrative of Kelly as a legitimate NFL head coach.
“Kelly put up with [Jackson] behind closed doors. A lot of guys didn’t like how he talked to [Kelly]. And a lot of guys just didn’t like him. They thought he was too into his rap label than he was about winning games. The guy performed, there’s no questioning that. But you had to keep a constant eye on him. Guys put in extra time. He didn’t. It’s like he never grew up.”
Though I am certain Kelly and the Eagles wish this story would go away, it is too far-reaching to just disappear. For all the hoopla in the media, the entire organization has done a good job not painting themselves as any more of an enemy than what the press has already done. This is a decision they made for their own reasons and, though we all wish they would give us a definitive answer, it has been business as usual as the Eagles continue their offseason.