Among his most serious suitors, only the Redskins offered the ability to play the team that cut him twice a year, when Washington faces NFC East rival Philadelphia. The thought of beating Chip Kelly a couple times a season had to cross Jackson's mind.
Jackson isn't the first star to go to a division rival. There have been many instances of a
player ending a memorable run with one team, then coming back to play (or coach against) his former team twice a year. Here are a few of the most famous recent examples:
WR Terrell Owens, Eagles to Cowboys: Heck, this isn't even the first time the Eagles have had this happen with an exiled receiver. Owens left Philadelphia under acrimonious conditions, but the Cowboys didn't mind. And Owens was very good in Dallas, with three straight 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown seasons ... before he wore out his welcome there too.
QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles to Redskins: The Eagles really are used to this. We probably should have known how this would turn out when Philadelphia traded McNabb to the Redskins, the kind of high-profile trade between division rivals that you very rarely see happen. McNabb and Mike Shanahan didn’t get along, and McNabb had a poor season in Washington before he was moved along to Minnesota for one final NFL year.
RB Marcus Allen, Raiders to Chiefs: Allen and Raiders owner Al Davis had one of the all-time feuds, with Davis banishing the future Hall of Famer to the bench (Allen had less than 70 carries in three of his last four Raiders seasons). Allen went to the Chiefs and had five good seasons there, with 44 rushing touchdowns for Kansas City.
Mike Shanahan, Raiders to Broncos; Bill Parcells, Patriots to Jets; Bill Belichick, Jets to Patriots: Sometimes, coaches make the switch. Shanahan was fired by Al Davis and went on to torture the Raiders, going 21-7 against the team that canned him. Parcells left New England after Super Bowl XXXI to go to the rival Jets, and took the Jets to the AFC title game once. Belichick took the opposite route, after spending all of one day as Jets coach, stepping down and then going to the Patriots in a controversial move. New England had to send a first-round pick to the Jets for hiring Belichick, which turned out to be a small price.
WR Irving Fryar, Patriots to Dolphins: The Patriots traded for the former first overall pick to Miami when he was 31 years old. Fryar responded by having more than 3,000 yards in three seasons with Dan Marino throwing him the ball.
DE Julius Peppers, Chicago to Green Bay; DE Jared Allen, Minnesota to Chicago; CB Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets to New England: A trio of high-profile defensive players will be going against familiar faces in 2014. Peppers was cut by Chicago, and moved up north to Green Bay. Allen was on the market for a couple weeks before a deal quickly came together to move to Chicago. And while Revis isn’t coming directly from the Jets to the Patriots, Jets fans will still remember him very well despite his one year in Tampa Bay.
LB James Harrison, Steelers to Bengals: Harrison won a defensive player of the year award and a Super Bowl with the Steelers, but Pittsburgh cut him in 2013. Harrison went to the Bengals and although Cincinnati won the AFC North, Harrison had a quiet season with just two sacks. The Bengals cut him, and now Harrison reportedly wants to come back to Pittsburgh.
CB Deion Sanders, Falcons to 49ers: Remember, the Falcons and 49ers used to be NFC West rivals. And Sanders went from Atlanta to San Francisco, had a fistfight with Andre Rison and a pick-six in his return to Atlanta ("This is MY HOUSE!" he exclaimed afterward), and won a defensive player of the year award and Super Bowl in his lone 49ers season.
QB Kurt Warner, Rams to Cardinals: There was a weird season with the Giants in between, but Warner went from a hero and MVP in St. Louis to Arizona, although that move was made with little fanfare at the time. Warner was expected to just mentor Matt Leinart in Arizona, but ended up starting for the Cardinals and taking the team to the Super Bowl. The Rams haven't approached the level of success they had with Warner.
QB Brett Favre, Packers to Vikings: Even though there was a one-year trip to the Jets in between, this is probably the most famous example of a player orchestrating a move to a division rival out of spite. Favre wasn’t happy he wasn’t welcomed with open arms in Green Bay after un-retiring, and after a year in New York he figured out a way to maneuver to the Vikings. Favre had one great season with the Vikings, including a couple wins against Green Bay, but lost in the NFC title game that season before the wheels came off in Year Two. The Packers ended up just fine too, with a guy named Aaron Rodgers and a Super Bowl championship.
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