Monday, July 13, 2020

DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson has been one of the most exciting players in football over the last decade plus. One of the fastest players in the NFL, he led the league in receiving yards per reception four times in his 12-year career. He also has 5 1,000-yard seasons and 3 Pro-Bowl appearances. In addition, Jackson throwing an interception helped me win a fantasy football championship. (Now that Andy Reid won a Super Bowl with Kansas City, people think he's a genius, but I'll always remember Reid having his wide receiver throw the ball on 3rd and goal on a Monday night game.) Plus, DeSean Jackson is part of one of my favorite movie quotes from the last decade from the movie Silver Linings Playbook:

I remember there being two words between the and man with the first word being mother and the second not being appropriate for children. Maybe the NSFW video isn't on YouTube. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong.

Anyway, I'm getting way off topic. Last week, DeSean Jackson shared two (now deleted) disturbing, anti-Semitic posts on Instagram. Jackson apologized for these posts, likely because he rightfully got called out by many people including his employer, the Philadelphia Eagles. Personally, I found the apology to be fairly weak and likely done because the Eagles, his agent, and/or others close to him told him that this needed to happen. On Friday, the Eagles fined Jackson and provided this statement:

"This has been a difficult and emotional week for our community and organization," the team said in the statement. "The Philadelphia Eagles do not tolerate hate towards any individual or group. We believe in respect and equality for all races, ethnicities, and faiths. We as an organization want to help be an instrument for positive change. This can only occur through strong, deliberate actions and a commitment to learn and grow. 

"We have had a number of constructive conversations over the last few days, not only with DeSean Jackson, but also with many other players, members of the organization, and leaders in the community. That has led us to the point where we and he are ready to take the next steps."

"Today we have penalized DeSean for conduct detrimental to the team," the statement read. "He accepted these consequences and apologized. In our many conversations with him, it has also been made clear that this is only the beginning. We have discussed a concrete plan for how we and he can heal moving forward. He understands that in order to remain on the team, he must also commit to supporting his words with actions. We have been encouraged by his desire to educate himself, but we all understand that there is still a lot of work to be done. We will continue to assist DeSean in this process, and we also know that all of us in our organization need to listen and learn more about things that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable to us.

"We must continue to fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, while not losing sight of the important battle against systemic racism."

Obviously, what Jackson posted was wrong. My question is whether a fine is necessary. How does Jackson grow and learn from being fined? Wouldn't the fine cause him to be more resentful? Now, should he lose sponsorships? Yes. Companies don't want someone paraphrasing Hitler pitching their products. Taking Jackson off of the team's 2021 calendar or removing his jersey from the online team store? Absolutely. But a fine? It seems to me that Jackson needs education, not a fine. Fortunately, education is happening. Jackson spoke with Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg who invited him to visit Auschwitz.

Apparently, Jackson also spoke with New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman, who offered to take him to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. I hope he also talks with NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen who is (or at least was) on the US Holocaust Memorial Council.

I do want to end on a positive here. I've seen several NFL players speak out last week, including this video by Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Zach Banner. I already liked him because of his personality and because he plays for the Steelers but now he's one of my all-time favorite players.

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