The Philadelphia Eagles landed a steal in the 2008 NFL Draft when they drafted DeSean Jackson in the second round. He served as a dynamic playmaker in their offense, but things went left when the team decided to part ways after a Pro Bowl season. Jackson will never forget the impact Chip Kelly had on the shocking decision.
The Eagles released DeSean Jackson after six seasons
Before he arrived in the NFL, DeSean Jackson was an All-American standout for the California Golden Bears. He recorded 162 receptions for 2,423 yards and 22 touchdowns in three seasons.
Jackson skipped his senior season and entered the draft. The Los Angeles native fell further down draft boards than he should have. The Philadelphia Eagles weren’t going to complain, though.
Jackson hit the ground running at the next level. The Long Beach Polytechnic High School graduate caught 62 passes for 912 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. He continued to elevate his game over the next few seasons.
From 2008 to 2013, Jackson recorded 356 receptions for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns. At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he was a dynamic playmaker for the Eagles. In his prime, he was one of the fastest wide receivers in NFL history.
After earning three Pro Bowl nods, the Eagles released Jackson in 2013. The move took the speedy playmaker by surprise.
Jackson blames Chip Kelly for the shocking move
DeSean Jackson does not like Chip Kelly. Even years later, with Jackson a member of the LA Rams and Kelly the head coach at UCLA, the tension remains.
“It was personal, man,” said Jackson of his release. “I was coming off my best statistical year… you’re releasing a dude after him being a Pro Bowler receiver? What are you doing?” Jackson felt completely blindsided by the move and firmly believes his former head coach was the mastermind behind it all.
“What bothered me was the allegations, and the stories that he made up like that was the reason they released me,” said Jackson. “Oh, he’s a gang member. He hangs out with thugs, criminals… you mad because I grew up where I grew up and hang out who I hang out with?”
The wideout thinks Chip Kelly had it out for him because he and other players didn’t buy into his philosophies. “We really felt like we were college players.” Kelly lasted four seasons in the NFL before returning to college football, but the damage was already done.
“It was like a stab in my back after everything I did for y’all… if y’all didn’t want to pay me, just tell me,” said Jackson.
Jackson signed with Washington to get back at the Eagles
DeSean Jackson understands that the NFL is a business. Still, he took exception to the type of business Chip Kelly conducted with the Eagles. Kelly was the head coach, but Jackson explained that he had the final say in most of the team’s decisions.
Jackson and other players like Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy struggled internally with Kelly as their head coach. “How you gonna put yourself on the line for a coach who can’t do the same for you?” asked Jackson.
When the Eagles released Jackson, it left a bad taste in his mouth. “I took that personally. That’s why I did go to Washington, and every time I played the Eagles, I made them regret that decision.”
The 34-year-old played three seasons with the Washington Redskins and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark twice. He also led the league in yards per reception in 2014 and 2016.
Following a two-season stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jackson returned to Philadelphia. Chip Kelly was no longer in town, so it was a no-brainer.
“I felt like I should’ve never left in the first place.”
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference