Sporting News Conversation: DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson had only one NFL game-breaking play under his belt — a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown — when the rookie caught a pass in front of ruthless Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in Week 12 of the 2008 season. "I saw him coming and I ran out of bounds," Jackson recalls. "I’m walking back to the huddle and Ray’s like, ‘Young fella, I ain’t gonna kill you! I like your game. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ "

DeSean Jackson, a 23-year-old receiver out of California, enters his third season with the Eagles.
DeSean Jackson, a 23-year-old receiver out of California, enters his third season with the Eagles.

Of course, the Eagles’ brightest young star since Donovan McNabb was only getting started. In his spectacular second season, Jackson tied an NFL record with eight touchdowns (five receiving, one rushing and two on punt returns) of 50 yards or longer. He ranked second in the league in yards per catch (18.6) and first in yards per punt return (15.2). Perhaps most impressive, he became the first player in NFL history to earn a Pro Bowl selection at two positions in the same season.

So when the 23-year-old Jackson reacted to April’s trade of McNabb to Washington by saying — on his Philly radio show — that "it was time for a change," it created major waves. This was the new No. 1 football star in town talking. At the Eagles’ training facility one day after that controversial remark, Jackson talked about McNabb and much more with Sporting News‘ Steve Greenberg.

SN: For those of us who’ve been watching basketball and baseball, has anything interesting happened with the Eagles this offseason?

Jackson: Yeah, a little bit, right? Just a quarterback change and a couple other key guys that were here a long time and aren’t part of us anymore.

SN: When you said of the McNabb trade that "it was time for a change," what, exactly, did you mean by that?

Jackson: I’m not here in charge of the front office. I’m here to handle what I can do — play football, run routes, catch the football to the best of my ability. It was nothing against Mr. McNabb; it’s just that I’m very confident in what we have here now, with Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. Basically, I was just very happy with the decision that was made. Any time major decisions are made, and I’m not the guy in charge of making the decisions, I can’t do anything but go with it.

SN: When you say happy, are you simply choosing to have a good attitude or are you being more analytical?

Jackson: I’m just looking forward at our future. Playing with Kolb last year, I know what he’s capable of doing; I see his playmaking ability and leadership. It’s nothing necessarily against McNabb. We had great times here in Philly my first two years. I think without Donovan being here, probably half the things I did on the field — I’m not going to say they wouldn’t have happened, but he gave me a better chance to be successful.

SN: McNabb had a quote after your 24-0 loss in the regular-season finale in Dallas — "We showed our youth" — that stirred the pot in Philly. How did you take that?

Jackson: When I first heard of it, I was doing a radio show on Monday, the day after the game. The guys (played) the clip, and it kind of caught me off-guard. We were a young team, with a lot of young players stepping up and playing some key roles, and to hear the comment the way it was said (bothered) me. But as a professional, you talk about things with your teammates; we talked about it and moved on. Basically, Donovan said he was misquoted.

SN: Can you understand how hard it is for older players who’ve put in so much time and effort to have to step aside or move on?

Jackson: It’s tough. It’s a business. Sometimes it can be unfortunate. But we play this game to do the best we can, to try to win all the games, get to the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl. You play this game for all the accolades. Just go out there and enjoy it. If you’re not enjoying it, it’s not as fun as it (should) be. Sometimes the team you come into is not the team you’re going to finish with. I definitely see that. I can learn from that to take advantage of the best of my ability and the things I can bring to this city and this team. As long as I can keep scoring touchdowns and running by people, I’ll be all right.

SN: You’re left now with a young team — especially the offensive skill players, all 25 and under. Do you buy the talk that the Eagles are "rebuilding"?

Jackson: I wouldn’t really call it rebuilding. We’re so close every year to getting to the Super Bowl. My first year we went all the way to the NFC championship game, and last year we made it to the playoffs. No matter what happens during the year, we always find a way to make it to the playoffs. That’s the best thing I can say about it. We’re always in the competition to be one of the best teams in the NFL. I don’t think we lost anything, even with McNabb being gone. Somebody steps out, the next person just has to step in and do a good job.

SN: As a group, how do you define DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek and Kevin Kolb?

Jackson: The sky’s the limit to me. I think you can call us the Young Guns: We’re all young, and we’re all explosive. We have a great time playing together. Our camaraderie in the locker room, the joking around — it’s great times. I look forward to being here a long time with these guys and making some good things happen.

SN: How good will Kolb be?

Jackson: It’s unfortunate he hasn’t really had a good opportunity because he had to sit under McNabb and kind of watch and learn the system under McNabb. I think he’s got a lot of talent, a lot of ability as a leader; he’s very confident in his arm and he’s confident in himself, and he’s smart. One thing I know about him: No matter what people say about him — negative or positive — he’s at a level where he knows how to use the energy and turn it into a positive. I know what he’s capable of doing. I don’t really see him not being able to step up to the challenge.

Jackson took a little ribbing from an Eagles assistant about sitting out with a concussion, but he knows he did the smart thing.
Jackson took a little ribbing from an Eagles assistant about sitting out with a concussion, but he knows he did the smart thing.

SN: Is this your team now? You certainly are its No. 1 star.

Jackson: I wouldn’t necessarily call it my team; we have some other veteran guys still who’ve been here and done some great things. But with my leadership and what I’m able to bring to the field, I know a lot of people look to me to spark the team with big plays. That definitely comes with a lot of hard work and dedication. A lot is expected of me. I have to watch what I do on and off the field all the time, watch what I say. Like as you see with saying "time for a change" — people can twist your words up and make it more than you meant. I’m not that type of person; I’m never really saying anything negative toward anybody. I wouldn’t like anybody saying anything negative about myself.

SN: There were some negative things said about you before six wide receivers were drafted ahead of you in 2008.

Jackson: Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson, Donnie Avery … I couldn’t care less about any of that. It was a blessing even to be picked. In my mind, I knew I would be a first-round pick. (Jackson went in the second round, No. 49 overall.) But all the negativity said about me — he’s not a team player, he doesn’t work hard — all that is done. I’m glad people understand what type of player I am. A lot of people could probably take my energy and misunderstand it, say, "He’s trying to be cocky." No. I think what makes me special and unique is that I’m never a follower. I’m the type of guy who always wants to be different, but at the same time I’m a team guy.

SN: Of the numbers you put up last year, which is the one that jumps out at you?

Jackson: I think the eight touchdowns over 50 yards. You really don’t get caught up with that stuff during the year until you get to about the sixth touchdown, and you’re like, Man, I’m three touchdowns from breaking this record! You try not to think about it when you’re on the field. OK, we’re on our 40? This could be over 50 yards. It’s really tough to not think about it. That’s the only thing about getting close to records and all these accolades — you kind of forget to think about what it really means to go out there and win games for your team.

SN: It’s not as though those touchdowns didn’t help the Eagles. Can’t you celebrate your individual moments within the context of the big picture?

Jackson: That’s true. At the same time I was having all the success I was having, we were winning crucial games. I can remember we went up to New York (in Week 14) — that was a huge game for us. The week before, they’d beaten Dallas and I didn’t play (at Atlanta) because I had a concussion. It was iffy if I’d come back and play. Our offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, said some things, trying to question my toughness. I was like, "Coach, I just got a concussion. This is my brain. If it’s anything else, my shoulder, whatever, I’m going to play." I sat at home, missing my first game in the NFL, watching my soldiers going against the Atlanta Falcons, and it was great — we handled it and we won. But it was killing me not to be out there. I told my cousin, "Man, next week I’m just going to get out there and explode, just go off." I ended up having a big punt return (for a 72-yard score) and a 60-yard touchdown catch (in a 45-38 win over the Giants). It was good to get back in the flow of things, man.

SN: Who’s the most explosive offensive player in the game right now?

Jackson: I would say myself and (Titans running back) Chris Johnson, definitely. Chris Johnson is a good friend of mine. The big question I always get about him is, "Who’s faster? When are you all going to race? I want to see this race." On my Twitter, everybody’s always asking that and, "Who do you like better out of Donovan and Kolb?" In reality, I’m going to always say no one’s going to beat me, of course. But making that race happen, who knows? Maybe when they take the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii and (restore) that competition for the NFL’s fastest man.

SN: You mentioned your concussion last year. Do you have any residual problems or concerns?

Jackson: Nah, man. My concussion was a Grade 1; it wasn’t too serious. It was a scary feeling, though — never in life had that feeling before. I just, like, blacked out, then came back to reality, like, What just happened? My trainer asked me if I could go back in; I said, "I don’t think I can." That was unusual for me. I’m used to dealing with those shoulder injuries or hip injuries. I was scared.

SN: One of the reasons you have to stay healthy is your contract — you’re not making seven figures yet. How does your contract status sit with you, with two more years on this deal?

Jackson: I feel God has a plan for me. Regardless of injury or not, I feel it’ll happen at the right time. Right now, I’m just doing everything I can to keep positive, keep my nose clean, do things in the community. I have an agent; I’ll let him handle that work with the Eagles. I’ll just come here and work out and do my job. My contract situation is up in the air, but I’m confident everything will happen in the right way.

SN: When you fired your original agency, DeBartolo Sports, and hired Drew Rosenhaus last year, what were your expectations?

Jackson: A lot of people thought when I fired my last agents and hired Drew, "Oh, he wants a new contract." The biggest thing I’ll say about that is I wasn’t comfortable with my last agents. For the type of person and player I am and the things I do on the field, I don’t think they were making the best of my abilities on or off the field. It was nothing like I need a new contract so let’s go sign the best agent in the game. I just felt I needed to be treated and handled in a different way. My appearances, endorsements or any time I need anything — whatever it is, a flight — I can just call Drew and it’ll be taken care of. My last agents, I was kind of like their biggest client; they didn’t really know how to handle me as far as the things top athletes need.

SN: Off the field, what do you want?

Jackson: To get the best opportunities for myself as far as the Gatorades, the Nikes, (nutritional) sports bars. I just want to take advantage of all the things I can off the field. I work so hard on the field, I think there should be a lot of opportunities for me off the field. To be the face of certain franchises, McDonald’s, whatever it is. It makes you feel good when you see yourself out on billboards.

Coach Andy Reid and the Eagles showed their confidence in Jackson's ability to make plays—no matter the quarterback—when they traded McNabb. And why not? Jackson touched off more than his share of TD celebrations last season.
Coach Andy Reid and the Eagles showed their confidence in Jackson’s ability to make plays—no matter the quarterback—when they traded McNabb. And why not? Jackson touched off more than his share of TD celebrations last season.

SN: You come from a big family — eight siblings, including you — and have three older brothers who played Division I football. Especially after losing your father, Bill, to pancreatic cancer last year, how much do you feel like you’re representing all of them?

Jackson: That was huge, man, going through that with my dad. I’d just never witnessed anything like that. He was able to see me go through my rookie season, with all the success I had, but then why take him so fast? … I’m the one out of my whole family to really make it all the way. It’s a blessing. Growing up in L.A., I had a lot of friends that always said they wanted to go to the NFL. It was all our dreams coming up. Where I come from, not to say it as a bad thing, but we never really said we were going to be a doctor or that we wanted to graduate from college; it was, "I want to play at the highest level of sports." I had a lot of friends who had the talent; it just was the little things that separated me from them: taking school serious or my dad keeping me off the streets, always taking me from this sporting event to the next sporting event, instead of coming home from school and just running the streets all day. There were times I was doing that and my dad was like, "I’m not going to let you keep doing this. There’s nothing but negativity in the streets." I saw people get shot, saw people selling drugs. I saw all the worst things. But that’s what motivated me to want to do sports.

SN: Having money, bearing the expectations of being a star — it might be a lot on a 23-year-old’s shoulders.

Jackson: You don’t ask for that when you’re just a young guy playing sports. You just want to have fun. But the higher up you go, the more responsibility you have to handle your business, watch what you say, things like that. Not to say anything negative about Pacman Jones or guys having problems, but that’s just not a good look. I don’t want to see it come up on the ticker: "DeSean Jackson DUI" or whatever. I’m aware of those type of things. … What I really want is just to be successful. I couldn’t care less about anything else. If that turns out to be being the face of the NFL or whatever it is, that would be great. I want to be successful, want to be able to win games. I don’t want to be on any losing teams. I don’t want to not be going to the playoffs.

SN: It’s all about winning championships, isn’t it?

Jackson: Yeah, because you know, if you look through all the great players that played the game, that’s kind of all you hear: "He never won the Super Bowl." That’s their knock. "He had all these catches and touchdowns, but he never won the Super Bowl." I don’t want to be one of those players. I want to put my effort toward giving it my best. You look up in the season and we’re sweating blood and tears, and you say, "We’ve been here since April! We’re not going to quit now!"

SN: Is it possible the Eagles got closer to that ultimate goal this offseason?

Jackson: I definitely think that. I don’t think we’re missing a beat right now. With the draft and free agents, I think they’ll be able to help us out a lot. McCoy, there’s a big task on his hands, being that main running game — but he can do it, man. Maclin is a great talent also. And that’s where I come into effect, especially with Kolb. I’m young, 23 years old, going into my third year. Not to sound cocky, but I feel unstoppable. If somebody comes to the line of scrimmage to guard me in man coverage, I think nobody can guard me in man coverage. So they double-team me, that’s good for all of us. We’ve got a lot of talent, and hopefully we’ll be able to put it all together.

Steve Greenberg is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at sgreenberg@sportingnews.com.

This story first appeared in the May 10, 2010 edition of Sporting News magazine. If you are not receiving the magazine, subscribe today, or pick up a copy, available at most Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.

Sponsored link: Philadelphia Eagles tickets available

DeSean Jackson had only one NFL game-breaking play under his belt — a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown — when the rookie caught a pass in front of ruthless Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in Week 12 of the 2008 season. "I saw him coming and I ran out of bounds," Jackson recalls. "I’m walking back to the huddle and Ray’s like, ‘Young fella, I ain’t gonna kill you! I like your game. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ "

DeSean Jackson, a 23-year-old receiver out of California, enters his third season with the Eagles.
DeSean Jackson, a 23-year-old receiver out of California, enters his third season with the Eagles.

Of course, the Eagles’ brightest young star since Donovan McNabb was only getting started. In his spectacular second season, Jackson tied an NFL record with eight touchdowns (five receiving, one rushing and two on punt returns) of 50 yards or longer. He ranked second in the league in yards per catch (18.6) and first in yards per punt return (15.2). Perhaps most impressive, he became the first player in NFL history to earn a Pro Bowl selection at two positions in the same season.

So when the 23-year-old Jackson reacted to April’s trade of McNabb to Washington by saying — on his Philly radio show — that "it was time for a change," it created major waves. This was the new No. 1 football star in town talking. At the Eagles’ training facility one day after that controversial remark, Jackson talked about McNabb and much more with Sporting News‘ Steve Greenberg.

SN: For those of us who’ve been watching basketball and baseball, has anything interesting happened with the Eagles this offseason?

Jackson: Yeah, a little bit, right? Just a quarterback change and a couple other key guys that were here a long time and aren’t part of us anymore.

SN: When you said of the McNabb trade that "it was time for a change," what, exactly, did you mean by that?

Jackson: I’m not here in charge of the front office. I’m here to handle what I can do — play football, run routes, catch the football to the best of my ability. It was nothing against Mr. McNabb; it’s just that I’m very confident in what we have here now, with Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. Basically, I was just very happy with the decision that was made. Any time major decisions are made, and I’m not the guy in charge of making the decisions, I can’t do anything but go with it.

SN: When you say happy, are you simply choosing to have a good attitude or are you being more analytical?

Jackson: I’m just looking forward at our future. Playing with Kolb last year, I know what he’s capable of doing; I see his playmaking ability and leadership. It’s nothing necessarily against McNabb. We had great times here in Philly my first two years. I think without Donovan being here, probably half the things I did on the field — I’m not going to say they wouldn’t have happened, but he gave me a better chance to be successful.

SN: McNabb had a quote after your 24-0 loss in the regular-season finale in Dallas — "We showed our youth" — that stirred the pot in Philly. How did you take that?

Jackson: When I first heard of it, I was doing a radio show on Monday, the day after the game. The guys (played) the clip, and it kind of caught me off-guard. We were a young team, with a lot of young players stepping up and playing some key roles, and to hear the comment the way it was said (bothered) me. But as a professional, you talk about things with your teammates; we talked about it and moved on. Basically, Donovan said he was misquoted.

SN: Can you understand how hard it is for older players who’ve put in so much time and effort to have to step aside or move on?

Jackson: It’s tough. It’s a business. Sometimes it can be unfortunate. But we play this game to do the best we can, to try to win all the games, get to the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl. You play this game for all the accolades. Just go out there and enjoy it. If you’re not enjoying it, it’s not as fun as it (should) be. Sometimes the team you come into is not the team you’re going to finish with. I definitely see that. I can learn from that to take advantage of the best of my ability and the things I can bring to this city and this team. As long as I can keep scoring touchdowns and running by people, I’ll be all right.

SN: You’re left now with a young team — especially the offensive skill players, all 25 and under. Do you buy the talk that the Eagles are "rebuilding"?

Jackson: I wouldn’t really call it rebuilding. We’re so close every year to getting to the Super Bowl. My first year we went all the way to the NFC championship game, and last year we made it to the playoffs. No matter what happens during the year, we always find a way to make it to the playoffs. That’s the best thing I can say about it. We’re always in the competition to be one of the best teams in the NFL. I don’t think we lost anything, even with McNabb being gone. Somebody steps out, the next person just has to step in and do a good job.

SN: As a group, how do you define DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek and Kevin Kolb?

Jackson: The sky’s the limit to me. I think you can call us the Young Guns: We’re all young, and we’re all explosive. We have a great time playing together. Our camaraderie in the locker room, the joking around — it’s great times. I look forward to being here a long time with these guys and making some good things happen.

SN: How good will Kolb be?

Jackson: It’s unfortunate he hasn’t really had a good opportunity because he had to sit under McNabb and kind of watch and learn the system under McNabb. I think he’s got a lot of talent, a lot of ability as a leader; he’s very confident in his arm and he’s confident in himself, and he’s smart. One thing I know about him: No matter what people say about him — negative or positive — he’s at a level where he knows how to use the energy and turn it into a positive. I know what he’s capable of doing. I don’t really see him not being able to step up to the challenge.

Jackson took a little ribbing from an Eagles assistant about sitting out with a concussion, but he knows he did the smart thing.
Jackson took a little ribbing from an Eagles assistant about sitting out with a concussion, but he knows he did the smart thing.

SN: Is this your team now? You certainly are its No. 1 star.

Jackson: I wouldn’t necessarily call it my team; we have some other veteran guys still who’ve been here and done some great things. But with my leadership and what I’m able to bring to the field, I know a lot of people look to me to spark the team with big plays. That definitely comes with a lot of hard work and dedication. A lot is expected of me. I have to watch what I do on and off the field all the time, watch what I say. Like as you see with saying "time for a change" — people can twist your words up and make it more than you meant. I’m not that type of person; I’m never really saying anything negative toward anybody. I wouldn’t like anybody saying anything negative about myself.

SN: There were some negative things said about you before six wide receivers were drafted ahead of you in 2008.

Jackson: Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson, Donnie Avery … I couldn’t care less about any of that. It was a blessing even to be picked. In my mind, I knew I would be a first-round pick. (Jackson went in the second round, No. 49 overall.) But all the negativity said about me — he’s not a team player, he doesn’t work hard — all that is done. I’m glad people understand what type of player I am. A lot of people could probably take my energy and misunderstand it, say, "He’s trying to be cocky." No. I think what makes me special and unique is that I’m never a follower. I’m the type of guy who always wants to be different, but at the same time I’m a team guy.

SN: Of the numbers you put up last year, which is the one that jumps out at you?

Jackson: I think the eight touchdowns over 50 yards. You really don’t get caught up with that stuff during the year until you get to about the sixth touchdown, and you’re like, Man, I’m three touchdowns from breaking this record! You try not to think about it when you’re on the field. OK, we’re on our 40? This could be over 50 yards. It’s really tough to not think about it. That’s the only thing about getting close to records and all these accolades — you kind of forget to think about what it really means to go out there and win games for your team.

SN: It’s not as though those touchdowns didn’t help the Eagles. Can’t you celebrate your individual moments within the context of the big picture?

Jackson: That’s true. At the same time I was having all the success I was having, we were winning crucial games. I can remember we went up to New York (in Week 14) — that was a huge game for us. The week before, they’d beaten Dallas and I didn’t play (at Atlanta) because I had a concussion. It was iffy if I’d come back and play. Our offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, said some things, trying to question my toughness. I was like, "Coach, I just got a concussion. This is my brain. If it’s anything else, my shoulder, whatever, I’m going to play." I sat at home, missing my first game in the NFL, watching my soldiers going against the Atlanta Falcons, and it was great — we handled it and we won. But it was killing me not to be out there. I told my cousin, "Man, next week I’m just going to get out there and explode, just go off." I ended up having a big punt return (for a 72-yard score) and a 60-yard touchdown catch (in a 45-38 win over the Giants). It was good to get back in the flow of things, man.

SN: Who’s the most explosive offensive player in the game right now?

Jackson: I would say myself and (Titans running back) Chris Johnson, definitely. Chris Johnson is a good friend of mine. The big question I always get about him is, "Who’s faster? When are you all going to race? I want to see this race." On my Twitter, everybody’s always asking that and, "Who do you like better out of Donovan and Kolb?" In reality, I’m going to always say no one’s going to beat me, of course. But making that race happen, who knows? Maybe when they take the Pro Bowl back to Hawaii and (restore) that competition for the NFL’s fastest man.

SN: You mentioned your concussion last year. Do you have any residual problems or concerns?

Jackson: Nah, man. My concussion was a Grade 1; it wasn’t too serious. It was a scary feeling, though — never in life had that feeling before. I just, like, blacked out, then came back to reality, like, What just happened? My trainer asked me if I could go back in; I said, "I don’t think I can." That was unusual for me. I’m used to dealing with those shoulder injuries or hip injuries. I was scared.

SN: One of the reasons you have to stay healthy is your contract — you’re not making seven figures yet. How does your contract status sit with you, with two more years on this deal?

Jackson: I feel God has a plan for me. Regardless of injury or not, I feel it’ll happen at the right time. Right now, I’m just doing everything I can to keep positive, keep my nose clean, do things in the community. I have an agent; I’ll let him handle that work with the Eagles. I’ll just come here and work out and do my job. My contract situation is up in the air, but I’m confident everything will happen in the right way.

SN: When you fired your original agency, DeBartolo Sports, and hired Drew Rosenhaus last year, what were your expectations?

Jackson: A lot of people thought when I fired my last agents and hired Drew, "Oh, he wants a new contract." The biggest thing I’ll say about that is I wasn’t comfortable with my last agents. For the type of person and player I am and the things I do on the field, I don’t think they were making the best of my abilities on or off the field. It was nothing like I need a new contract so let’s go sign the best agent in the game. I just felt I needed to be treated and handled in a different way. My appearances, endorsements or any time I need anything — whatever it is, a flight — I can just call Drew and it’ll be taken care of. My last agents, I was kind of like their biggest client; they didn’t really know how to handle me as far as the things top athletes need.

SN: Off the field, what do you want?

Jackson: To get the best opportunities for myself as far as the Gatorades, the Nikes, (nutritional) sports bars. I just want to take advantage of all the things I can off the field. I work so hard on the field, I think there should be a lot of opportunities for me off the field. To be the face of certain franchises, McDonald’s, whatever it is. It makes you feel good when you see yourself out on billboards.

Coach Andy Reid and the Eagles showed their confidence in Jackson's ability to make plays—no matter the quarterback—when they traded McNabb. And why not? Jackson touched off more than his share of TD celebrations last season.
Coach Andy Reid and the Eagles showed their confidence in Jackson’s ability to make plays—no matter the quarterback—when they traded McNabb. And why not? Jackson touched off more than his share of TD celebrations last season.

SN: You come from a big family — eight siblings, including you — and have three older brothers who played Division I football. Especially after losing your father, Bill, to pancreatic cancer last year, how much do you feel like you’re representing all of them?

Jackson: That was huge, man, going through that with my dad. I’d just never witnessed anything like that. He was able to see me go through my rookie season, with all the success I had, but then why take him so fast? … I’m the one out of my whole family to really make it all the way. It’s a blessing. Growing up in L.A., I had a lot of friends that always said they wanted to go to the NFL. It was all our dreams coming up. Where I come from, not to say it as a bad thing, but we never really said we were going to be a doctor or that we wanted to graduate from college; it was, "I want to play at the highest level of sports." I had a lot of friends who had the talent; it just was the little things that separated me from them: taking school serious or my dad keeping me off the streets, always taking me from this sporting event to the next sporting event, instead of coming home from school and just running the streets all day. There were times I was doing that and my dad was like, "I’m not going to let you keep doing this. There’s nothing but negativity in the streets." I saw people get shot, saw people selling drugs. I saw all the worst things. But that’s what motivated me to want to do sports.

SN: Having money, bearing the expectations of being a star — it might be a lot on a 23-year-old’s shoulders.

Jackson: You don’t ask for that when you’re just a young guy playing sports. You just want to have fun. But the higher up you go, the more responsibility you have to handle your business, watch what you say, things like that. Not to say anything negative about Pacman Jones or guys having problems, but that’s just not a good look. I don’t want to see it come up on the ticker: "DeSean Jackson DUI" or whatever. I’m aware of those type of things. … What I really want is just to be successful. I couldn’t care less about anything else. If that turns out to be being the face of the NFL or whatever it is, that would be great. I want to be successful, want to be able to win games. I don’t want to be on any losing teams. I don’t want to not be going to the playoffs.

SN: It’s all about winning championships, isn’t it?

Jackson: Yeah, because you know, if you look through all the great players that played the game, that’s kind of all you hear: "He never won the Super Bowl." That’s their knock. "He had all these catches and touchdowns, but he never won the Super Bowl." I don’t want to be one of those players. I want to put my effort toward giving it my best. You look up in the season and we’re sweating blood and tears, and you say, "We’ve been here since April! We’re not going to quit now!"

SN: Is it possible the Eagles got closer to that ultimate goal this offseason?

Jackson: I definitely think that. I don’t think we’re missing a beat right now. With the draft and free agents, I think they’ll be able to help us out a lot. McCoy, there’s a big task on his hands, being that main running game — but he can do it, man. Maclin is a great talent also. And that’s where I come into effect, especially with Kolb. I’m young, 23 years old, going into my third year. Not to sound cocky, but I feel unstoppable. If somebody comes to the line of scrimmage to guard me in man coverage, I think nobody can guard me in man coverage. So they double-team me, that’s good for all of us. We’ve got a lot of talent, and hopefully we’ll be able to put it all together.

Steve Greenberg is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at sgreenberg@sportingnews.com.

This story first appeared in the May 10, 2010 edition of Sporting News magazine. If you are not receiving the magazine, subscribe today, or pick up a copy, available at most Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.

Sponsored link: Philadelphia Eagles tickets available

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*