Julian Edelman wears many different hats for the New England Patriots. But beyond his contributions as a receiver and punt returner, he plays an even more critical role for Bill Belichick: team leader. So when DeSean Jackson made headlines for his anti-Semitic posts about the Jewish community, the former Super Bowl MVP couldn’t stand silently.
Instead, Tom Brady’s longtime top target just invited Jackson on the most important date of his life. And if the Eagles wideout takes up Edelman’s offer, both men can teach the rest of the country an important lesson on acceptance.
DeSean Jackson earned widespread criticism for anti-semitic post
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, many athletes have weighed in with their thoughts on racism, social justice, and police brutality. Some have put their money where their mouth is to help combat these issues. Others have had to apologize for insensitive remarks. But nobody took it quite as far as DeSean Jackson.
Over the holiday weekend, the Eagles wideout shared anti-semitic quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler on his Instagram story. He followed up with more posts referencing the quote on Monday. Jackson then tried to defend his actions and claimed that people “took my post the wrong way.” Of course, the Jewish community certainly had every reason to interpret his posts as offensive.
Almost immediately, Jackson received widespread criticism from all corners of the world. The Eagles even released a statement about Jackson’s controversial social media posts. And while he issued several apologies on Instagram on Tuesday, it still doesn’t excuse his behavior.
Luckily, the Jewish community has Julian Edelman to help shed some light on the situation.
Julian Edelman invited Jackson on the most important date of his life
As one of the few Jewish NFL players, Julian Edelman takes his heritage quite seriously. He has never been shy about speaking about his background and has even traveled to Israel to learn more about his roots and football abroad.
In light of Jackson’s insensitive posts, Edelman could have expressed anger or resentment. Instead, he showed tremendous maturity, leadership, and understanding in his Instagram video response posted Thursday morning.
“I know he said some ugly things, but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation. I’m proud of my Jewish heritage, and for me, it’s not just about religion. It’s about community and culture as well. I’m unusual because I didn’t identify as Jewish until later in my life. Whenever I encountered hatred, it never really felt like it was aimed at me. It was only after I was part of this community that I learned how destructive hate is. Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. It’s rooted in ignorance in fear.”
Edelman followed up by saying he experienced hate in 2011 when someone used a Jewish slur toward him on the field. And while the anti-Semitism discussion carries great importance, he also cautioned that it shouldn’t distract from the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
To bridge the gap and gain a better understanding, Julian Edelman invited DeSean Jackson on the most important date of his life.
“So to that end, DeSean, let’s do a deal. How about we go to D.C., and I take you to the Holocaust Museum, and then you take me to the Museum of African-American History and Culture? And then afterwards we’ll grab some burgers and we’ll have those uncomfortable conversations. This world needs a little more love, compassion, and empathy.”
Edelman and Jackson can both learn from this experience
Maybe burgers and tough conversations will change DeSean Jackson’s thinking. On the other hand, maybe he won’t take up Edelman on his offer. Either way, the entire situation should serve as a valuable learning experience for both parties.
For Jackson, he obviously has to deal with the backlash of his comments. But if he goes on the museum and burger date with Edelman, perhaps he can gain a deeper understanding of why his comments caused such a negative reaction. At the same time, he can teach Edelman about issues that African-Americans faced not only in the past but also in the present.
Athletes possess the power to make a positive impact on society. And by inviting DeSean Jackson on the most important date of his life, Julian Edelman has a chance to teach not only his fellow wideout a valuable life lesson but also show the world how we can approach tough topics in order to gain a better understanding of each other.