Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is one of the more thoughtful players in the NFL, not the raving loon some expected him to be at Super Bowl week, so his opinion on DeSean Jackson made for a worthwhile read.
Jackson and Sherman were childhood friends in Los Angeles, even playing on the same youth baseball team, so Sherman wasn't just making idle chatter about the new Redskins receiver. Jackson was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles, a NJ.com story about his ties to gang members has been widely read by now, and a discussion over his off-field acquantances and actions has followed.
Sherman writes a regular column for MMQB.com and offered a good one about the Jackson situation. He starts by saying he has no idea if Jackson is or isn't in a gang, but explains that many NFL players maintain friendships with those from their youth, and he believes Jackson to be a good person.
"I look at those words—gang ties—and I think about all the players I’ve met in the NFL and all of us who come from inner-city neighborhoods like mine in Los Angeles, and I wonder how many of us could honestly say we’re not friends with guys doing the wrong things," Sherman wrote on MMQB.com. "I can’t."
The issue of dissolving old associations once a player makes the pros is one that has gone on for many years, at least going back to Allen Iverson when he was with the 76ers almost a couple decades ago and probably long before that. Sherman explains the dynamic in the column.
"In desperate times for people who come from desperate communities, your friends become your family," Sherman wrote. "I wouldn’t expect DeSean to 'distance himself' from anybody, as so many people suggest pro athletes ought to do despite having no understanding of what that means."
He also takes the Eagles to task for not understanding the situation, and compares it to them getting counseling for receiver Riley Cooper (and eventually re-signing him to a large contract) after he was seen using a racial slur at a concert last summer. He also wonders about the double standard with how Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was arrested for DUI and possession of a controlled substance, was covered in a more forgiving tone vs. how Jackson's story was covered. He implies race was a factor, saying, "Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn."
All interesting points, and you don't have to agree with them all, but once again Sherman has done a fine job shaping the discussion of an issue.
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