By Ryan Rodriguez
With Desean Jackson getting released earlier today, at least in part due to alleged ties to Crips gang members, social media has come up in arms, with both defenders and detractors of Jackson having plenty to say about the whole thing. First off, let me say that we really don’t know what all went into this release, and to simply jump to the conclusion that he is a blue bandanna toting gang member is a failure to use our critical thinking skills and understand that there are almost always multiple layers to every story.
Things such as his high cap hit, past issues with effort and authority, and possibly the belief that Chip Kelly can make almost anyone with talent a productive offensive weapon could all have played (and most likely did play) a role in Jackson’s release. However, with everything that has happened in the last year with Aaron Hernandez and his ongoing murder case, it seems that teams are taking more interest in who their players are associating with off the field.
The report we have seen, from nj.com, say that Jackson is linked to two separate murders that were carried out by Crips members. This links are loose – DeSean is friends with a man acquitted for a December 2010 murder, and one of his family members owned or leased a building where a gang-related murder took place. A gun permit, credit card receipts and a car title, all in Jackson’s name, were found in the building. In both cases, cops never considered Jackson a suspect, witness or anything more than a famous person who knew people, in some way, who were involved in these incidents.
Does any of this mean that Jackson is a Crip? Of course not; you can’t control what friends, family members or friends of family members do. But I can see how it makes a business that has invested millions of dollars in a person a little wary. Not about the possibility that he is a gang member, but about the chance that he could somehow be caught up in an incident due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, simply because he was hanging with his boys who also happened to be gang members.
It also doesn’t help DeSean when he C-walks in a touchdown celebration, flashes potential gang signs at other players during games (I am not an expert in any way on Crip gang signs so I do not feel like I can ultimately say if they were in fact gang signs), flashes C’s in a Snoop Dogg music video, or spells his record label and nickname as ‘Jaccpot’. (Crips don’t like to use c and k together because it stands for Crip Killer, which is similar to how Nortenos use the Sacramento Kings “SK” logo to represent that they are Scrap Killers. Scrap is the name Nortenos use for Sureños, who are their rival gang.) Jackson has said he simply uses jaccpot because jackpot was already taken as an Internet domain name. This is definitely possible, but it is at least interesting that someone who has friends that are Crips would use Crip notation to spell his nickname and record label.
Still, none of this means that he is a member of the Crips. I’ve seen people who are not members of a gang have friends and family members who are, and they keep these people close without actually partaking in any gang activity. They may dress similar to the gang members and even use some of the gang words, but when it comes to actual gang-banging, they aren’t partaking whatsoever. This sounds more along the lines of the life DeSean appears to be living (all speculation, as obviously I have no sources and don’t see him on a daily basis).
He is an active member in both his home-town Los Angeles community as well as Philadelphia, running camps, working with charities, and giving talks to young people of all ages. He has never been directly involved in anything that can be taken as gang-related, unless you believe that smoking weed and hosting loud parties are exclusively gang activities. Following DeSean relatively closely since his days at Cal, I never once suspected him of being a gang member, and it also doesn’t surprise me that he has friends that are tied to gangs, based on where he grew up.
Once again though, none of this means he is a gang member in any way. However, throw everything into a big pot (contract, past history with authority, being late to meetings, questions about his ability to mentor younger players) on top of these possible influences in his life, and it makes some sense why the Eagles would choose to just walk away. They may have assessed everything that happened with Aaron Hernandez and determined they weren’t willing to take the chance that Jackson could end up going down the same road.
Do I think that he will? No, simply because I assume he has had these friends for some time now, possibly all the way back to childhood, and seemingly still hasn’t succumbed to indulging in gang activities. Hernandez on other hand had a civil case against him for shooting a guy in the eye, and was involved in a pretty violent bar fight while in college.
But I get that these concerns could scare a team away. I hope DeSean does the necessary things to assure teams that gang members will not have an effect on his life because he is one of my favourite players and I want to see him on the field (sadly not in Chip’s offence any more) and succeeding to the highest level. And I also hope people don’t continue to judge him as a gang member, simply because of this report.Published 29 Mar 2014, 01:36 IST