If you watch ESPN, then you are aware of the latest sports media frenzy. The Philadelphia Eagles recently cut DeSean Jackson, their top receiver who just had the best season of his career. DeSean Jackson is one of the fastest wide receivers in the league and is a huge deep threat, proven by his 1,332 receiving yards and 16.2 YPC average. His ability to stretch defenses vertically also provides space for the running game, which helped LeSean McCoy become the top ranked running back this past season.
So why would the Eagles let him go?
There are a number of theories, the most pervasive of which is that the Eagles were not comfortable with Jackson’s rumored gang connections. This is all just speculation; the Eagles did not release a statement as to why they decided to part ways with their #1 receiver. Of course, this does not matter to the media, who used the rumors as a way to brew a shit storm. While many people know that there were many reasons for the Eagles to cut Jackson (which we will get to shortly), some are criticizing the Eagles for what they thought was an unfair, and possibly racist move by the organization.
One person crying foul is Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seahawks and contributor for MMQB. In his most recent article, Sherman serves as a character witness for Jackson, and provides logic as to why the company Jackson keeps doesn’t reflect on who he is as a person. This is a sound argument, and clearly any football team that cuts a player just because they don’t like his friends is not only petty, but a poorly run organization. Sherman also doesn’t claim to know everything about the situation, and criticizes those who judge Jackson as if they do:
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.
This would be a great point to finish on. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do that. Instead he decides to de-board the logic train at hypocrite station. Earlier in the article, he acknowledges the reason that the Eagles let Jackson go because of gang-ties is just conjecture. Shortly after he completely goes back on this saying:
Sorry, but I was born in this dirt.
NFL teams understand that. The Seattle Seahawks get it. The Philadelphia Eagles apparently do not.
What? I thought we already established this was all just speculation. What were you saying earlier about staving off judgment if you don’t know all the facts? Nah, forget it. That MUST be why they released him.
Richard Sherman then does the expected, and plays the race card (unfortunately that word warrants usage in this case.)
This offseason they re-signed a player who was caught on video screaming, “I will fight every n—– here.” He was representing the Philadelphia Eagles when he said it, because, of course, everything we do is reflective of the organization. But what did they do to Riley Cooper, who, if he’s not a racist, at least has “ties” to racist activity? They fined him and sent him to counseling. No suspension necessary for Cooper and no punishment from the NFL, despite its new interest in policing our use of the N-word on the field. Riley instead got a few days off from training camp and a nice contract in the offseason, too.
To his credit, Sherman doesn’t conclude that he believes Cooper to be a racist, but leave it open to the possibility. However, this entire argument is a false equivalency. Sherman is asserting that racist-related activity is just as bad, if not worse than gang-related activity. Of course I’m not saying Jackson was involved in a murder, but it doesn’t take an ethics professor to see that saying the n-word while drunk isn’t as nearly as immoral as committing a homicide.
Also, Cooper had an isolated incident fueled by alcohol and the terrible music of Kenny Chesney. Cooper apologized, and while being a short-lived distraction, hasn’t caused many problems for the Eagle’s locker room since. It was a stupid mistake that he paid for.
Jackson on the other hand has always been a problem for the Eagles. Missed meetings, missed practices, fights with the WR coaches, showboating on the field, complaining about money despite recently getting a contract etc. He refuses to change his behavior, and is a constant distraction to the team. It’s more than likely that the Eagles tried to help Jackson, but Sherman won’t admit this. Instead he points to one anecdote that conclusively proves that the NFL is racist.
Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn. Look at the way many in the media wrote about Jim Irsay after his DUI arrest. Nobody suggested the Colts owner had “ties” to drug trafficking, even though he was caught driving with controlled substances (prescription pills) and $29,000 in cash to do who-knows-what with. Instead, poor millionaire Mr. Irsay needs help, some wrote.
Yes, Sherman. People with drug problems tend to get help. It’s called rehab. Are those the certain crimes you’re talking about?
Sherman finally finished this train-wreck of an article with a self-righteous rant about his own personal life. Unfortunately, his piece has gained a lot of traction since yesterday. Richard Sherman is an incredibly intelligent man and an incredibly talented football player, which is why his article is being treated as sage like. It doesn’t change the fact, however, that Sherman is wrong about (almost) everything.