NFLPA to investigate if Eagles engaged in DeSean Jackson smear campaign
If the Philadelphia Eagles believed that the team had rid itself of a headache they evidently felt not worth the trouble by releasing DeSean Jackson, they were wrong.
The NFLPA reportedly will be investigating whether the Eagles engaged in a smear campaign prior to cutting ties with the wide receiver.
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith appeared on ESPN’s Mike & Mike radio program on Friday and said the union will look into the Eagles’ conduct leading up to Jackson’s release.
“We’ve been in touch with DeSean, and first and foremost he is a tremendous football player and great young man,” Smith said, via Pro Football Talk. “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.”
Smith later likened the NFLPA’s interest in Jackson’s release to the controversy-riddled parting of ways between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Josh Freeman.
“We went into a deep investigation that’s continuing about Josh Freeman, and the comments that we believe came from team management or the coaches, and that’s an investigation that’s ongoing and we’re going to aggressively pursue it,” Smith said. “If we believe that someone at the team did something impermissible we’re going to be seeking significant discipline against those individuals. We look at that situation as similar to this one.”
The prevailing belief in NFL circles, given the nature of the reporting up to and following Jackson’s release, was that the Eagles were growing concerned with Jackson’s off-the-field conduct, including missing team meetings and lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly, but mostly related to the suspicion that Jackson had gang affiliations, something the wide receiver vehemently denied shortly after he was cut.
Jackson, now with the Washington Redskins after signing a reported three-year, $24 million deal, probably appreciates how his union is stepping up and attempting to at least make sure everything was on the up and up related to his release.
The Eagles, meanwhile? Probably not so much. No matter the outcome of the investigation, such as was the case with the Bucs last season following Freeman’s release, the ridding of one headache simply caused another one to develop.