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DeSean Jackson speaks out, says 'never' been in a gang

Shutdown Corner

New Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson is trying to set the record straight.

In an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, he took on the topics that have been part of the controvery surrounding him the past week.

The most talked-about issue is whether or not he has any "gang ties." NJ.com's now infamous story pointed to circumstantial evidence of possible affiliation with gang members although it never said Jackson was in a gang, and quoted a Los Angeles Police Department detective saying they had no hard evidence Jackson was ever in a gang. Jackson told ESPN he hasn't been in a gang.

"Do I know people who are involved? Yes," he said. "I'm definitely aware of and know certain gang members.

"But as far as being affiliated, never have been in one. I've always felt I've been a product of my environment, but I've always felt I've wanted to do things the right way."

Jackson, who is from Southern California, said gangs were part of the environment he grew up in, but asked if he hangs out with gang members Jackson told ESPN, "Not if they're doing negative things." The NJ.com story talked about Jackson seeming to throw up gang signs, even one during a game to Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a new teammate who helped recruit Jackson to sign with the Redskins. Jackson explained it.

Jackson's interview came on the same day a story from the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, citing a number of current and former Eagles, ripped Jackson and explained the reasons why the Eagles cut him. The story said Jackson was "not very well liked by his teammates, was blatantly insubordinate, with temper tantrums cussing out Kelly several times in front of the team, pushed the NFL rookie coach the way 'a child would test boundaries,' and was more concerned with his rap label than he was about winning football games." None of the players quoted were named.

Jackson defended himself on that too.

Jackson said he's "not perfect" but has learned to do things the right way. He admitted he has been late to meetings, and missed just one meeting during his career, but he has learned how to be a professional as he has gotten older.

He said he has made a positive choice in his life, not surrounding himself with the wrong individuals as he admitted he did early in his career. He said he has matured.

As for how the Eagles cut him, Jackson said it was a one-sided phone conversation with coach Chip Kelly, and he got little explanation for his release other than Kelly telling him, "We're moving forward. I think it's best for us and I think it's best for you."

The NFLPA, according to union chief DeMaurice Smith's interview with ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" show, will look into the circumstances of Jackson's release. Smith said the union has a problem if a team wants to "smear a player with innuendo."

The circumstances surrounding Jackson's release by the Eagles are still sketchy and controversial, but really it doesn't matter. Jackson found a new home and if he plays like he always has and has matured like he said, it won't be an issue going forward.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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