Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wrote an article about Desean Jackson’s alleged “gang ties” for Sports Illustrated.
Sherman, who grew up with Jackson in Compton, argues that it’s unfair to judge Jackson based on his associations.
He points to Riley Cooper and Colts owner Jim Irsay as examples of people that got the benefit of a doubt from the NFL world (and were lightly disciplined) despite off-the-field issues more serious than Jackson’s.
Sherman says there’s a racial double-standard in the NFL:
“Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain colour, and you get help, not scorn. Look at the way many in the media wrote about Jim Irsay after his DUI arrest. Nobody suggested the Colts owner had ‘ties’ to drug trafficking, even though he was caught driving with controlled substances (prescription pills) and $US29,000 in cash to do who-knows-what with. Instead, poor millionaire Mr. Irsay needs help, some wrote.”
Jackson wasn’t accused of any crimes in the NJ.com article that brought up his alleged association with gang members. He was accused of taking an Instagram picture with a gang member.
Forty minutes after the article was published, the Eagles cut him.
Sherman goes on to explain why pro athletes can’t cut all ties with the people they grew up with after they get rich:
“In desperate times for people who come from desperate communities, your friends become your family. 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. Going to college and playing in the NFL creates a natural distance, but we can’t push people away just because they’re not as successful as us. I can’t change who I grew up with, but what I can do is try to educate them on the right way of doing things, help them when they need it, and try to keep them out of trouble.”
Philly’s reasons for cutting Jackson extend beyond the NJ.com gang story.
But Sherman’s column is still an useful bit of perspective on how NFL players see this situation.
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