The reasons behind the Philadelphia Eagles' decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson last week have yet to be revealed.
The team released a generic statement after cutting Jackson, who signed with the Washington Redskins, last Friday. Eagles coach Chip Kelly, general manager Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie have not offered any explanations.
Jackson told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith Friday that Kelly's call to him last Friday was just as vague.
"He said, 'We're moving forward. I think it's best for us and I think it's best for you.' I was hurt," Jackson said.
The National Football League Players Association has decided to investigate the release to determine if the team first waged a smear campaign against the three-time Pro Bowler before cutting him.
Jackson was cut the same day an NJ.com story was published that suggested Jackson had ties to the Crips street gang.
"We've been in touch with DeSean, and first and foremost he is a tremendous football player and great young man," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said Friday morning on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" radio show. "On the issue of how he was released, whether or not there were comments or leaks from the team, misinformation to the media coming from the team, that's something that we're going to look at. We've always been aggressive about protecting the integrity of our players."
At the time of his release, Jackson issued a statement in which he vehemently denied being involved with gangs. Over the next few days, the Los Angeles police department, friends and former coaches and officials from Long Beach Poly High School, Jackson's alma mater, came to his defense.
Jackson signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Redskins on Wednesday, with $16 million guaranteed, and suggested during a conference call that the NJ.com story was inaccurate.
"Eventually, I think people will really understand and see the real DeSean Jackson," Jackson said. "And not the painted picture that was put out on me."
Rumors have surfaced that the Eagles were more concerned about his work ethic, practice habits, and relationships with coaches and teammates than they were about alleged gang ties.
Jackson was deactivated for a game in 2011 by then-coach Andy Reid after he missed a mandatory team meeting the day before a game against Arizona. Last season, TV cameras caught him engaging in a sideline argument with first-year wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell during the Eagles' 48-30 loss at Minnesota, though both Jackson and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur dismissed the incident as a heat-of-the-moment flareup.
"It only takes for a couple of mistakes to happen for your brand to be damaged to the point that you cannot earn, or your earning potential begins to be hurt in the capacity of being able to get outside of your neighborhood and earn a living," former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins told 97.5 The Fanatic on Wednesday.
"And so these are the type of things that I'm talking about when it comes to DeSean Jackson. We're held up on this gang affiliation thing; it's not just that. It's being a professional. It's being able to be counted on to be with your team, do what you're supposed to do, not skating around the corner, not cutting corners, not doing some of the things that he's allegedly been doing while in Philadelphia."
Jackson's alleged off-the-field behavior - he denied the suggestions that he did not get along with Kelly and teammates during his interview with Smith - didn't affect him on the field.
The 27-year-old enjoyed the best season of his career in 2013. He led the Eagles with 83 receptions for 1,332 yards with nine touchdowns.
"I heard the rumors, but I was surprised for sure (about Jackson's release)," McCoy told Fox Sports on Thursday. "DeSean was probably one of our biggest playmakers. He can make plays at any given time. He can control the game. He's probably the biggest deep threat in the NFL. To lose a guy like that is definitely tough. He'll definitely be missed.
"Obviously, every move is made for a reason. The guys upstairs made the decision for a reason. When you do things like that, you have backup plans in your mind. You don't let one of the top wide receivers go and then not have anything to back it up. I'm sure Coach Kelly and Howie will be able to take care of it."
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