I’m not going to tell you that DeSean Jackson isn’t in a gang, because I can’t say unequivocally that he isn’t. I can’t tell you whether his friends have done the things police have accused them of doing, because I wasn’t there. I can’t tell you what DeSean does with his time, because we play football on opposite ends of the country. I can only tell you that I believe him to be a good person, and if you think, say or write otherwise without knowing the man, you’re in the wrong.
And if it’s true the Eagles terminated his contract in part because they grew afraid of his alleged “gang ties,” then they did something worse. [Editor’s note: Jackson has agreed to terms with the Redskins.]
Those men with DeSean in the social pictures and the police reports weren’t his closest friends in childhood, but when his father died and few people were there for him, they were there. When a tragic event like that happens, the people who are around are the people who are around, and they were there for him.
Was DeSean supposed to then say, “Thanks guys, but now that I’m a millionaire, please leave me alone”? Even if he wanted to, he wouldn’t have. In desperate times for people who come from desperate communities, your friends become your family. I wouldn’t expect DeSean to “distance himself” from anybody, as so many people suggest pro athletes ought to do despite having no understanding of what that means. Going to college and playing in the NFL creates a natural distance, but we can’t push people away just because they’re not as successful as us. I can’t change who I grew up with, but what I can do is try to educate them on the right way of doing things, help them when they need it, and try to keep them out of trouble.
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