DeSean Jackson will and won’t get booed in return to Philly


When someone asked me this week what expectations I had for how Eagles’ fans would react to DeSean Jackson upon his return this weekend, the answer originally seemed fairly simple. Six years in Philly, 356 catches for 6,117 receiving yards and perhaps the most iconic moment in team history seems ovation worthy to me.  We all knew his deficiencies–he was a pain in the ass, he couldn’t go over the middle, he disappeared in some big games–but generally speaking, Jackson is one of the greatest wide receivers to play for the Birds and he deserves a standing ovation.

But something LeSean McCoy, Jackson’s good friend, said, made a lot of sense.

"“I’m sure the crowds will cheer him on,” McCoy said. “I don’t think they’ll boo him. … Hey, they didn’t boo (Donovan) McNabb. They didn’t boo McNabb. It’s tough. I don’t think they will boo him, but I think he’ll come out trying to play hard.”"

McCoy would later amend that statement, saying he didn’t think that Jackson would get booed “at least at the beginning of the game”.

Knowing DeSean, and knowing ourselves as Philly fans, that seems a lot more likely.

Don’t get me wrong, if Jackson comes into Philly and does nothing besides light the Eagles up–he gets back to the huddle after making a catch and hands the ball back to the ref after scoring–then he shouldn’t hear one boo. That would be like you getting fired from your job, going to another job and killing it, and your old boss follows you there to remind you of what a shitty job you did for him. It really doesn’t make any sense.

Then again, Jackson staying cool throughout this game probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, either.

If you’ve ever played a sport, even at the varsity level, you understand the idea of being slighted. People are slighted in varying ways, depending how short of a temper they have, how good they actually are, and what team they play for and the teams they play against. If you’ve ever experienced going into another team’s field at the beginning of the season, getting your ass kicked and hearing it from the opposing crowd, coming back at the end of the year and returning the favor is about as good of a feeling as you can ever have as an athlete.

Some people say in that moment that you should “act like you’ve been there before”, but that never made sense to me. You only get so many moments in your athletic career, that give you chills and make you feel like you’ve accomplished exactly what you set out to do, and I have no issue with living them up. You don’t have to act like Richard Sherman, but being a villain can be pretty fun at times.

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Regardless of how you feel about Jackson’s release, it’s undeniable that he was a Pro-Bowler last year, is a special talent, and probably spent the entire offseason telling himself that he knew how good he was and was going to prove to the Eagles that they made a mistake in releasing him. Jackson felt and still feels slighted, and he should want to come back to Philly and show the team that released him up.

He’s obviously on a team that at least has playoff aspirations, so referring to this as “his Superbowl” might be a tad unfair, but make no mistake, there isn’t another regular season game this year that he will be more amped up for.

So what does that all mean? It means that while a majority of the fanbase didn’t want Jackson to be released, we are his way to reach Eagles’ management. I don’t know how Jackson comes out of the tunnel–he shouldn’t be booed then regardless–but once he makes a catch the aggressive first-down pointing will start. And don’t think that he doesn’t have a few special touchdown dances in mind should he score, which more than certainly will bring on some boos.

The uncomfortable thing about Jackson making it seem like he is shoving it down the fanbases’ throats or trying to show us up would be that most of the fanbase wishes he was still here. He’s not and most of us have moved on by now, but many of us spent the entire offseason somewhat upset at the lack of an explanation for a Pro-Bowl receiver being released. Gun to our heads, most off us would admit that we’d gladly welcome Jackson back into the fold.

I don’t know if Jackson is aware of that perception from the fanbase. Maybe he thinks he all were happy to see him leave, and he doesn’t feel bad at all about showing us up if he performs. If he is aware that most of us didn’t want to see him let go, then that doesn’t mean he won’t act obnoxious if he has a big game, but it just means that it isn’t really directed at the people that support(ed) him.

In a lot of ways, the media is similar. Players and coaches will get upset with the media after a difficult game, normally just because they are frustrated with something that happened in the game, or they are trying to reach a certain person, and the media is their means of making their voice heard. The fanbase is Jackson’s version of the media this week.

So Jackson shouldn’t be booed coming out of the tunnel. God forbid, he gets hurt and a few losers boo him and that somehow gets twisted into the entire city of Philly feeling that way. But if Jackson scores and acts cocky, which I would if I was him, he will get here some boos. That isn’t representative of us booing a player who had a ton of memorable moments in Philly, it’s representative of us booing a divisional rival’s weapon who is celebrating a touchdown in our endzone.