1. He's one heckuva football player.
2. He's one heckuva buffoon.
Both of these traits are on display in one play from Sunday night's Eagles victory over the Dallas Cowboys. In it, Jackson makes a delicate sideline grab, tiptoes up the sideline, cuts up field showing his blazing speed and outruns the entire Dallas Cowboys defense en route to the end zone. But before he gets there, he acts the fool before taking that last step:
The flag was thrown because Jackson went to the ground during a touchdown celebration. But because he wasn't yet in the end zone when he started going to his back, the call was wrong. Was it tacky? Yes. Could they possibly have thrown a flag for taunting? No arguments here. But if it's cool for a guy to dive into the end zone, then it has to be similarly all right for DeSean Jackson to act like a preening fool. Technically, that celebration was part of the play. It wasn't a post-TD celebration. Ergo, no penalty.
This, of course, is not Jackson's first foray into premature touchdown celebrations. In a college all-star game he lost a ball while doing a somersault into the end zone. And in this same game (Philly at Dallas) during his rookie season, Jackson accidentally and infamously dropped the ball before scoring, not as much because he didn't know he hadn't crossed the goal line, but more so because dropping the ball was going to look awesome and completely nonchalant. (Oops.)
This one is a little different in that the only error was a 15-yard penalty (which, as we mentioned, wasn't deserved). No, it was just a jerky display by an athlete who should know better given his past history.
Don't get me wrong, touchdown celebrations are great. But the best ones are born out of playfulness, not spite. Jackson wasn't celebrating his touchdown as much as he was rubbing the Cowboys' noses in it.
"That'll never happen again, honestly," Jackson told Andrea Kramer after the game. A few sentences later he said he didn't care about any fines and would keep doing what he's doing on the field.
[Related: Player celebrates a little too early]
As long as Jackson produces, his antics will seem cute. Remember when Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens(notes) were wacky for their touchdown dance? "They're so funny!" we said. But then, bam -- just like the precocious 9-year-old who turns into an annoying teenager -- it shifts. The attitude and celebrations grow real stale, real quick. And given the decline in production, the celebrations get to a point that they become pathetic.
Get out now, DeSean. Leave the egomaniacal celebrations for soccer players. Do what you want, just don't do it in a way that hurts your team. You're good enough at football to make everyone forget about the antics. Keep it that way.