Richard Sherman Offers Though-Provoking Defense of DeSean Jackson

desean jackson released by eagles

As we all learned back in January, the opinions expressed by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman in the heat of battle aren’t always intelligent and thought-provoking. However, when the man takes some time to think and reflect, he tends to offer the kinds of keen insights you’d expect from a Stanford grad–which he is.

His latest thoughtful opinions concern DeSean Jackson, who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this week despite having just put up the best numbers of his career. The team did not offer any specific reason for cutting a Pro Bowl wide receiver in his prime. However, as you probably know, it’s been widely speculated that the Eagles were concerned about Jackson’s associations with suspected gang members.

So what did Sherman have to say? Well, in a guest column for’s Monday Morning Quarterback, he offered a pretty persuasive defense of Jackson or any NFL player who chooses not to turn his back on the people who helped him get where he is today—even if they do make poor choices in their own lives.

He starts by stating up front that he does not know for sure that DeSean Jackson is not in a gang—and that neither do you. Then he offers this explanation for why a guy might not automatically cut off any friend with “gang ties.”

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 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.

There is, of course, a tipping point. There have been times when I realized that someone can’t be helped, because they continue doing the wrong things. Typically, the only time I cut someone off is when they’re in jail, because I can’t help them there.

And if they’re accused of a crime, as DeSean’s friends have been, should that reflect poorly on me? Consider that for every several guys I try to help who end up dead or in jail, there’s another person I was able to rescue from a similar end. Should I give up on everybody out of fear of being dirtied by the media?

Sorry, but I was born in this dirt.

NFL teams understand that. The Seattle Seahawks get it. The Philadelphia Eagles apparently do not.

Sherman’s critique of the Eagles, the NFL, and the media didn’t stop there, either. He went on to point out that the team did not release wide receiver Riley Cooper last summer when he was caught on camera saying “I will fight every n****r here.” Instead, they sent him to counselling and rewarded him after the season with a contract extension.

And nobody is talking about forcing Colts owner Jim Irsay to sell the team because he was arrested for a DWI with cocaine and $29,000 in cash in his car. However, you can bet if it were a black player who still has friends in his old, inner city neighborhood, people probably would have assumed he was involved in drug trafficking—which is a typical “gang” activity.

So say what you want about Richard Sherman. Maybe he is a classless blowhard. However, he makes some good points, and before you say he’s wrong about DeSean Jackson, read his entire essay. It’s worth your time.

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