From an early age, DeSean Jackson was preparing for an NFL career. His late father Bill Jackson, a very important figure in his life, always wanted his sons to pursue sports. Bill’s style was blue collar all the way. He’s from Pittsburgh, Penn. and worked night and day for most of his life. He instilled that hard-nosed mentality into his kids, “He was very strict as well too. There were plenty of times as a young kid I would be in trouble, and he'd have to take that belt off sometimes and give it to me,” DeSean says. D-Jack went on about his dad that lost his battle to pancreatic cancer in 2009, “It was a dream of his, but he wasn't really able to play football, or play any sports. He wanted to push me and my brother Byron as far as he could, because his pops never really allowed him to play sports.”
He wanted to push me and my brother Byron as far as he could, because his pops never really allowed him to play sports
DeSean’s older brother Byron was also encouraged to play sports by his father—who, himself, was never allowed to by his parents. Byron played at San Jose State as a receiver and spent a couple years on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad. But Byron’s first love wasn’t football, it was film. D-Jack’s older brother is an aspiring director and his first go at it is a documentary on DeSean’s journey to the NFL. With footage that was taken from when DeSean was in middle school, Byron tries to tell his younger brother’s story in DeSean Jackson: The Making of a Father's Dream. D-Jack says of the doc and his sibling, “My brother made a whole documentary of my life. It's a long story. My dad had a dream of his kids reaching the NFL. My older brother was actually the first to make it. His career didn't really last too long, but he always had more passion for documentaries.” DeSean’s relationship with his brother and father are strong. He credits them both with keeping him on the field and off the streets. Since he was that fast little kid on his middle school football team, his brother and father have been there “every step of the way.” And in case you’re wondering, D.J.’s father didn’t have a problem with his “excessive” touchdown celebrations: “He just wanted me to get into the endzone first, you feel me? [Laughs].” Jackson started a foundation to “support his life, and at the same time, give awareness to pancreatic cancer. Because there's not too much awareness out there for that disease.”
Now in his sixth year as a pro, Jackson can start calling himself a veteran. And every veteran knows that taking training camp serious by coming in fit and ready to go is essential. Especially with a new coach. Former Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly just might be the perfect guy for DeSean’s skill set. The coach is already trying to make an impression on the wideout, and the team for that matter—Chip has them eating organically. Jackson’s excited about the new situation this year. “I think it's going to be a high tempo offense that'll catch a lot of defenses off guard. Not only that, but they don't really have any film on us—they have to go back to college for that. It kind of puts a little twist on it. It's not going to be the same exact offense [as the Ducks], but there'll be similarities. We're just excited to play in that offense and light it up this year.” Kelly is famous for the spread offense he used at Oregon, an innovative scoring machine that helped decorate Kelly’s resume. Bill Belichick even asked Kelly for advice and used a no-huddle offense during the 2012 season. The former college coach is now taking his quirky personality and souped up offensive genius to the NFL in hopes of succeeding where few have.
One thing’s for certain, he definitely has weapons. Mike Vick is getting up there in age but he’s still a
The people that hate, that's a part of it. It makes me go out there and prove everybody wrong. I don't really get caught up in what they say
one-of-a-kind talent. LeSean McCoy is probably a top five running back, and with the pass-happy Andy Reid gone, McCoy is poised for a big year. The receiving core took a hit losing Philly lifer Jeremy Maclin for the season to a torn ACL and let’s not forget the Riley Cooper incident. With those two dealing with off the field issues, this a perfect opportunity for DeSean to put himself into that elite category. He’s been called undersized his entire football career dating back to Pop Warner. He’s never cared about the critics saying, “I don't really do it for them, honestly. I just go out there and do it for the ones who appreciate my work. The ones that have seen this undersized kid be in this league going on six years. A lot of people didn't really think I'd make it until the draft. The people that hate, that's a part of it. It makes me go out there and prove everybody wrong. I don't really get caught up in what they say.”
Jackson likes to stunt on his haters with his part-time gig. D-Jack is also a rapper and this summer he released a heat rock (sarcasm depending on how you see it) with Snoop Lion. “Diamonds On My Neck” is complete with Vegas scenery and Jackson dancing like Diddy. DeSean isn’t shy and he shows it on and off the field. His supreme confidence has led to mistakes, but he looks to mature this season. When asked about his premature and excessive celebrations, DeSean said all the right things: “I think the more and more you live, you mature, you go through certain things that make you a better person in life. I think I've matured in my six-year career. Having come in the NFL so young at 20 years old, it's like night and day now. My maturity level definitely went up, and I'm just honored to be able to go through what I went through to make me who I am today.”
That’s the way to live. Learn from mistakes and try not to have regrets. Our decisions shape us for better or worse and DeSean is battling those demons just like the rest of us. He looks to rebound from the last couple years of disappointment. When asked about his injury-plagued 2012 season, Jackson responded: “It's really not about myself. I don't really get caught up in that. I just go out there and help my team win games. Last year, I had a pretty good year until I got hurt. I was on track to break records and all that. In ten games, I had 700 yards. In my eyes, it wasn't a disappointing year. Unfortunately, I broke my ribs in the 10th game of the season. Coming in this year, I'm going to do anything I can do to help my team win games, and from there, everything sets in stone. Whatever stats come up then, that's what will happen.”
Having come in the NFL so young at 20 years old, it's like night and day now. My maturity level definitely went up, and I'm just honored to be able to go through what I went through to make me who I am today
With their new-look offense and new regime in place, the Eagles are looking at change for the first time in a decade and a half. D-Jack isn't worried about it, though, “This year I think will be a huge year for us. We got a new coach and a couple new additions on offense and defense. This year they have us as underdogs. I'm happy, ‘cause the past couple of years everybody's been putting a lot of pressure on us. I’m expecting a lot of good things. Sometimes that's kind of hard to handle as well too. I think our team is one of the best teams in the NFL. With the talent that we have, the sky's the limit for us.”
The Philadelphia Eagles start the season tonight against the division rival Redskins and play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. DeSean looks to make his presence felt however he can and judging by his demeanor, the rest of the league should be scared to death. With his notorious confidence and new-found maturity, Jackson looks to diddy-bop all the way to the Super Bowl. Don’t judge his antics, judge his results. Will the Eagles finally realize their potential or will they disappoint once again? Only time will tell, but one thing remains constant. DeSean Jackson isn't playing games anymore. Be afraid.