- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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Even with the report from anonymous sources, it's difficult to figure out where the lion's share of blame belongs in this breakup.
The Eagles released Jackson, their most explosive player, on Friday afternoon. A report by NJ.com alleges that Jackson has ties to Los Angeles gang members. The report shows a photo of Jackson flashing what can be perceived as gang signs.
Is that report part of the reason for Jackson's release? Did the team have issues with Jackson's alleged affiliations? Was his attitude toward meetings and practices not serious enough for the team?
The problem I have with all this is the failure of the two sides to stay on the same page for the greater good of the team. Why couldn't Jackson play within the rules? Why didn't the Eagles try harder to get their message across?
I find it difficult to believe that the Eagles could not talk things through with their leading receiver.
Why not confront him about being questioned by Los Angeles police regarding a friend of his, who is allegedly a gang member?
Why not demand he report to work on time? Show effort in practice?
I’m not saying Jackson has to be a choirboy. You find flaws in players, coaches and owners up and down every NFL roster. How a team manages those flaws can often be the difference between disarray and raising championship trophies.
Jackson isn’t the only player in the NFL who has alleged ties to gang members. People in all walks of life come across gang members, criminals and simply bad human beings. Are they all guilty by association?
Jackson isn’t the only player in the NFL with questionable work habits. Players have been late for meetings and shown disdain for practice since organized sports were created.
It's hard for me to believe the Eagles made the decision because of his practice habits. I'm just waiting for Jackson to respond by channeling another famous, but highly criticized, Philadelphia athlete. "Practice?! We talkin' about practice?!"
If the Eagles really wanted Jackson around, they would have formulated a plan to get him in the right place.
A league source told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that the Eagles decided to release Jackson for a number of reasons, but most involved "work ethic and attitude."
The same source said the Eagles learned Wednesday night about Jackson's alleged associations in Los Angeles, and that report "raised their level of concern.”
Really? With as much as the team had invested in Jackson, they found out about those alleged relationships only this week? As sophisticated as scouting and security is in the NFL, it's very difficult to believe the Eagles didn't know who their star wide receiver was hanging out with from the time he was drafted until the time he was released.
Months before this report came out, there were photos of Jackson on his Instagram account with alleged gang members.
The Eagles, under a different regime, made a choice to select him in the second round. They have known him and what he's about for years. And now, all of a sudden, this reported gang association, his work ethic and missed meetings are major issues?
Where was the passion to get Jackson in line, much like there was when Michael Vick was signed back in 2009? Remember the protesters outside Lincoln Financial Field? Remember the outrage? The Eagles survived it all.
At the time of Vick’s signing, owner Jeffrey Lurie said he was appalled by the quarterback’s involvement with dogfighting. Lurie acted as if he wanted nothing to do with Vick and put everything on then-Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Those efforts worked out for the Eagles and for Vick, who became a solid citizen in Philadelphia. The Eagles showed patience and told Vick to live up to what the organization wanted from him.
Where was this effort for Jackson?
Chip Kelly is not Andy Reid, and apparently Kelly wasn't interested in putting in the time and effort it would have taken to get Jackson marching in the right direction.
I just can’t imagine how Jackson finished ninth in the NFL in receiving yards last season after being late to all these meetings and simply going through the motions in practice.
How did he manage so much success when it came down to game time?
Either the effort to help Jackson was going to be too much for the Eagles, or there was something very personal going on between Jackson and others in the organization.
If you ask me, the Eagles simply didn't care about getting one of the best wide receivers in the league to buy into the program. It wasn’t worth the effort.
You can bet somebody else will try.