Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers Riley Cooper (14) and DeSean Jackson (10) celebrate Riley's 8 yard reception good for a touchdown to put the Eagles ahead late in the fourth quarter during the NFL week 11 regular season football game against the New York Giants on Sunday November 20, 2011 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Eagles won the game 17-10. (AP Photo / Jim Mahoney)

Race, Riley Cooper, and the DeSean Jackson release

LIKE MANY BLACK FANS, I saw a hint of racial bias when DeSean Jackson was released by the Philadelphia Eagles following allegations of gang affiliation.

Why? Because when Jackson’s case is compared to that of Riley Cooper, a white player who hatefully  looked into a video camera at a country music concert and said, “I will fight every nigger in here,” it’s easy to see a double standard. We all saw what Riley Cooper did. He could not deny it, sugarcoat it, or explain it. His words, and the vitriol with which they were spoken, were there for everyone to see. Yet the Eagles allowed Cooper to issue an apology, leave camp for a few days, pay a fine, and return to the team. Less than a year later, they rewarded him with a 5-year, $25 million contract that far outpaces his on-the-field value.

Assumptions preceded DeSean Jackson release

DeSean Jackson, on the other hand, is accused of associating with members of the Crips, a gang that started in his native California. As in Cooper’s case, this is not a new accusation. But unlike in Cooper’s case, the accusations against Jackson are built on assumptions and innuendo rather than solid evidence.

[blocktext align=”right”]”Unlike in Riley Cooper’s case, the accusations against Jackson are built on assumptions and innuendo rather than solid evidence.”[/blocktext]According to, Jackson took pictures with Theron Shakir, a man who had been accused (and acquitted) of murder in a gang related shooting in California. Jackson posted those pictures on his Instagram account. Shakir performed on Jackson’s rap label, Jaccpot Records. Law enforcement officials say the spelling of Jackson’s label could indicate some affiliation with the Crips, as does his use of an alleged gang sign in several pictures.

Jackson signed a five-year, $48.5 million contract extension in 2012, and was due more than $10 million this year. Now he won’t see that money, at least not from the Philadelphia Eagles.

I don’t know if Jackson is affiliated with the Crips gang, but I do know he raised money to fight pancreatic cancer.  I don’t know if he’s ever been a gang-banger, but I do know he’s stood up publicly for bullied children. I don’t know if he’s a stellar man, but I do know he’s trying. Yet when his team could have sent him to counseling like they reportedly did with Cooper, fined him like they did with Cooper, or given him the benefit of the doubt like they did with Cooper, the Eagles not only released him. They allowed the gang stories, which were filled with conjecture and innuendo, to fester, and never said a word in Jackson’s defense.

Jackson, however, spoke in his own defense after his release was announced, and here is what he said.

DeSean Jackson speaks for himself

“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization … Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true. I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless.”

To be sure, we’ll learn more about the story that broke on in the days to come. But as a black man who spent his teen years in a North Philadelphia community much like the California neighborhood where Jackson grew up, I can tell you this. Those of us from poor communities know people who are both perpetrators and victims of violent crime. We just do. That’s reality.

Is it a mistake to remain close to reputed criminals? Yes. Can their reputations rub off on us? Yes. Do we need to change our affiliations once we move on to a different life? Yes. Jackson made a mistake in remaining affiliated with people like Theron Shakir, and it appears that he ultimately paid the price for doing so.

Still, when I look at Jackson’s case as compared to that of Riley Cooper, I see one man facing circumstantial evidence and another who committed an offense. I see one man who actually worked in the community and another who did not. I see one man who performed at an All Pro level and another who did not. I see one man who is black and another who is not.

I hope DeSean Jackson was not treated differently because he is black. But I can’t help wondering if that’s the case. sj favicon 3

Update: Click here to see Solomon’s video commentary on the 3-year, $24 million contract DeSean Jackson signed with the Washington Redskins, with $16 million guaranteed, just four days after his release from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Featured photo: Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers DeSean Jackson (10) and Riley Cooper (14) celebrate Cooper’s 8 yard touchdown reception against the New York Giants on Sunday November 20, 2011. (AP Photo / Jim Mahoney)

solomon thumbnailSolomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Click here to learn more about Solomon


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Great article. You said what a lot of people (not just black but white as well) see in this situation: One person was released because of an assumption and was not given a second chance (although he never did anything off the field to burn a first chance)


Solomon Jones

Thank you.


An assumption can determine if you will receive a pay check or not….

Solomon Jones

True dat.


Great article by the way!

Solomon Jones

Thank you.

Kevin Ghee

Here’s where my problem lies with the Desean/Riley comparison. First the two are in no way synonymous. Riley said “I would jump that fence and fight every nigger in here.” Okay. I would have liked to see him at the very least try it. But where did that harm black people? A white boy saying the word nigger and having a job is nothing new. He got a new contract, well the Eagles have made other questionable decisions in the past. Again nothing new.

Now as for Desean and his alleged gang ties. This is more serious and pernicious to us and our race. The guy he’s in pictures with, Theron Shakir, is actually a gang member who has been tried and acquitted of a homicide. Desean takes pictures with these guys throwing up hand signs, gang related or not, that gives the distinct impression of being gang related versus the everyday greeting. Most people who are not into gang culture are so ignorant to the sophisticated nature of gang life and truly couldn’t tell you a gang sign or what it represented if they had. Yet they cry is “Desean is not in a gang. Fine, I don’t know if he is or isn’t.

They issue about the money is this, his contract guaranteed $20m, $5m more that Cooper’s entire contract, if Cooper remains on the team to even see it all. This happens in football. People get cut. Demarcus Ware was cut by the Cowboy’s and was due a base salary of $12.25m. Where was the outrage? It’s the nature of football because the contracts aren’t guaranteed. Ware went on to sign another deal for 3 years $30m with $20m guaranteed. It’s football, charge it to the game.

Now I will say this, there’s a thing called libel in which anything publish or written to defame one character, that’s not true, said person can be held responsible and sued for lost wages and damages. If Desean really feels as if this is a misrepresentation of who he is then looks like he has a case. If not, then oh well. I did see a report that the Eagles said that they stop trying to trade him because they didn’t want to burden another team with Desean’s baggage. Hmmm, if it’s not true, I’d take some of that $20m and get to suing.

Solomon Jones

Hey Kevin – Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it. Obviously, I think the Cooper Jackson comparison is appropriate. That’s why I wrote about it. Both Cooper and Jackson play the same position for the same team, and both have made mistakes under the same coaching/ management. Despite their difference in value as players, one was rewarded after his mistake, while the other was cut from the team. As I said, more information will come out about what led to DeSean being cut, and perhaps we’ll have a better understanding after that. However, as someone who has done public relations both in politics and in the non-profit world, it seemed to be a public relations coup to have the gang story come out just as the Eagles were trying to figure out how to cut DeSean loose. As far as DeSean suing for the story, I don’t think DeSean has a case. There are several elements of libel. The information has to be published, other people have to see it, the plaintiff has to prove that the publisher knew or should have known that the information was false, and the plaintiff has to prove that the story caused them harm. There is a higher standard of proof when it comes to public figures. did not say DeSean was in a gang. They simply implied it. If DeSean can sign with another team and make as much or more money than he would have made with the Eagles, I think it’s hard for Jackson to sue and win that case.

Kevin Ghee

I get that. I was referring to the Eagles being sued since the story initiated with them and this of course is based on his inability to get a contract because of. But i still disagree that Cooper was rewarded. What should the team have done, cut him? But then allow the blacks on the team who uses the word openly to remain? The owners don’t view it like black people do, so it would be hypocritical to cut Cooper and let the blacks say it….

Solomon Jones

He doesn’t have a libel case against the Eagles either because the Eagles didn’t say anything derogatory about him in writing. On Cooper, there were lots of people, including my media colleagues, who thought he should have been cut. Not just because he used the N-word, but also because of the context. This was not in the locker room. This was Cooper out in public making a racial threat against a black security guard who was just doing his job. I’ll reserve further comment for later. Again, I appreciate your support, brother, because even if you don’t agree, your reading and commenting on the work is important, so thank you.


With the recent gang ties with Hernandez the Eagles didn’t want to be that same victim of circumstances. And if Jackson was that well received in the locker room, I have yet seen or heard any of his teammates come to his defense.

Solomon Jones

Interesting points.


I read your article Mr. Jones after seeing it in the news feed of an old friend of mine and I have to say I agree with you. I hope the Eagles didn’t go down that route of ” let protect the white guy and screw the black guy” but when you sit back and look deeper into the points you made it really makes you think. Yes when comparing Jackson and Cooper on the field it’s clear to see who the better player is. When looking at their charity work, it’s obvious to see the time and money DeSean Jackson has invested. So yes I do ask myself why treat one player differently based on allegations and the other based on fact. If the Eagles are so worried about who DeSean associated with in the past and would want him to distance himself from the bad image and attention it bring with knowing gang members, and bad pulicity it would bring the team. Than wouldn’t it have been wise for the Eagles to distance themselves from Rylie Cooper and the negative image that being associated with a racist would bring the team? It’s frustrating on many levels.

Solomon Jones

I think more will come out about this. We’ll see. Thanks for reading and responding.


With all due respect Mr Solomon, I don’t agree with this.
I highly doubt the NJ article is accurate, so I would be careful with how serious it’s taken. Not downplaying the terrible thing Cooper did, but being a constant problem…constantly being difficult.. even after warnings.. that seems like a more likely reason to cut Jackson. If Riley were to make one more bad move, I bet my ass he would be gone too.
I know quite a few people that give to charity… and many of them are still very shitty people at the end of the day and only care about what they look like. It’s sad, but true. Never base someones character off that. Especially when everyone can SEE they good you’re doing. It’s when no one is watching. When Jackson was in the lockerroom or behind closer doors, that’s what his character was. Jackson’s attitude has never been a secret. It’s always been an issue. At the end of the day, knowing what I know about Chip, I doubt Jackson was cut due to his race. He’s a coach in the NFL? He works with how many black men on a daily basis?? Even if on the off change he WAS, he’s here to win. Desean was a probowler. It wasnt an easy decision.

Solomon Jones

The article cites several sources, and does not say DeSean Jackson is a gang member. It says he associates with people who could be gang members. It makes its points through implications without ever directly saying DeSean Jackson is part of a gang. Yes, I suppose DeSean’s attitude is an issue, and as I said in my column, I’m sure more information is forthcoming. We’ll see.


So following your logic, many shitty people give to charity, ergo, if you support a charity you’re a likely a shitty person. Yeah, I stopped reading the rest of your amateur hour rant after that gem.


Riley was hanging out with his “friends” at the concert, but DeSean hangs out with gang members ? Im not sure if this was so much a Eagles decision more so than a NFL’s image thing if we look closely the NFL just banded dunking the ball after a touchdown so they may be trying to clean that up how better to send a message by cutting a high profile strap goat isn’t this how the operated in slavery time wait this may still be slavery time just different owners.

Solomon Jones

I think if this was the league sending a message DeSean wouldn’t already be scheduling meetings with other teams. I think he’s supposed to meet with the Redskins Monday. The ban on dunking the ball over the goalposts is stupid, by the way.


The ban on dunking is due to engineering. The uprights are 5 feet higher this year. Should something like the Jimmy Graham thing happen again, people could be injured. Seriously.


So, you admit Riley was hanging out with his KKK friends?

David Kierniesky

Article is on point Solomon. I didn’t like the DeSean release mainly for sports reasons. He had an excellent season in Chip Kelly’s offense. Sadly, this double standard still exists in 2014. I was waiting to hear that DeSean was being brought up on charges. I was waiting to hear SOMETHING that warranted a release from his employer. Nothing. I sense that people in the organization simply didn’t like DeSean. This story was cooked up to win sympathy for the organization when they KNEW people would react to DeSean’s release with a big fat WTF??? Just when I was thinking the Eagles were making a climb to a potential era of greatness, this stains it.

Solomon Jones

I agree David. Thanks for chiming in.


article is SUPER off point actually though. Between Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson….. who was continuously being a pain in the ass to his team while making significantly more money???? YES!!! DeSean Jackson was being a continuous pain in the ass while making more money…. therefore….. BYE BYE.

Brian B

While you are bringing in the organization as a whole; could we also point out this was an organization that gave a convicted fellon a second chance? Did race play into that decision as well?
I think Jackson is gone for a number of reasons; attitude, possibly assumptions, money (which is always a big reason in the NFL), a receiver deep draft and hopefully Chip Kelly trying to create a cohesive culture. Jackson hasn’t been known to be a “team” player. This could have been his undoing as an Eagle.
As it stands, this article is an assumption. An assumption that adds another wedge to preventing us all to be one race….the human race.

Solomon Jones

Brian thanks for responding. I don’t think I assumed anything. i pointed out the same thing that reporters and writers have pointed out in other publications–that Riley Cooper was treated differently than DeSean Jackson. I don’t think that’s an assumption. I think it’s a fact. It’s true we aren’t sure that the allegation that DeSean Jackson’s was affiliated with a gang was the sole reason for his dismissal from the team. That’s why I was sure to point out that I believe more information will come out at some point. I also said I hope race wasn’t the reason for the different treatment. Finally, if this column is a wedge between people of different races, then we’ve all got a lot of work to do.

kenneth masters

Hey Brian nice article and like you I was upset at first. But personally I dont think there is a racial bias. On the surface when you look at cooper vs jacksons situation? It certainly seems that way.

But the thing is, the info related to why deseans release cites ‘work ethic and other off the field issues’. Thats all we are getting from the eagles. So that should stand as the facts. Cooper wasnt released and was given a second chance. But deseans case was different. The eagles arent throwing him under the bus. Or the fans a bone. Whats telling is NONE of his former eagle team mates have said mum on all of this. Except Kelce who said he was happy the direction the team was going.

I am a Nigerian American male. And while on the surface I can see how this would look racial when you compare the two? They are seperate independent instances and I dont believe ‘race’ has anything to do with it. Desean has faced disciplinary actions with the eagles before and my take on it is. With him being one of the vets here under a new regime trying to build their own culture? He simply was not worth the headache. Which says more about that mans locker room presence and character tham any speculative reports.

Remember here is a guy who admitted he quit on his team and didnt give his best effort becauee he wanted more money. Lets not absolve desean of any personal responsibility from being cut. The eagles offered to trade him. Wanted to restructure his deal and tried to do what they could do from a business stand point. And he (as is his right) refused. In the end they saw no choice to let him walk due to ‘work ethuc and other unrelated football issues’. That speaks VOLUMES about what was going on.

Just how big or small? We will never know. Until we know.

kenneth masters

Sorry I meant Solomon!

Solomon Jones

I keep hearing people say his teammates aren’t saying anything. But here’s the scenario. Imagine you are in a workplace where a new boss comes in and decides to target the most productive and highest paid worker, because he doesn’t personally like that worker. The boss succeeds in firing that worker, and lets it be known that he will not tolerate any argument around the decision. Knowing the most productive and highest paid worker is expendable, you know you are expendable, too. Would you risk your job in order to speak up about that fired worker, or would you keep your mouth shut and keep your job?

It’s ironic that Jason Kelce was the one player who alluded to Jackson’s release by tweeting that he liked the direction the Eagles are going. Kelce was one of the players who was at that Kenny Chesney concert with Cooper when Cooper said what he said, so his saying he likes the direction the organization is going could be construed as divisive.

Finally, if the Eagles didn’t want to pay Jackson, they should have just said that, rather than allowing the gang story to fester. The timing of Jackson’s release, which happened 40 minutes after that story was published, and their silence on the gang issue (which, again, the Eagles knew about when they gave him his last contract) made it pretty clear that they wanted the public to believe the gang issue was part of the reason for Jackson’s release. If the gang issue was not the reason for his release, and it was really about money, as you contend, then that makes the Eagles’ behavior even more inexcusable because it means they allowed DeSean Jackson’s character to be assassinated in order to save themselves the money they promised to pay him.


So I guess the Eagles signing of Mike Vick doesn’t count as giving someone the benefit if the doubt?
Jackson had JACCPOT tatted on his back. Ask any cop why it was spelled that way and the answer would be close gang ties.
Also, Jackson was a quitter on the field at times and overpaid. The coach that paid him was gone.
Lastly, what Riley Cooper did was wrong but it was a one time occurrence, likely based on alcohol consumption. There is no proof of continuos activity like that from cooper.

Solomon Jones

Michael Vick was signed under Andy Reid. He was a different coach and I believe his experience with his sons made him more willing to give Vick a second chance. Cooper was the fourth receiver on this team. His behavior was inexcusable. Most of my media colleagues, and many fans, were shocked that he was not cut.


Knock it off!! The Eagles organization never made one official statement about Jackson being involved in a gang. That was pure media speculation! Race will always be an issue, as long as we continue to make it an issue. The Eagles no longer wanted Jackson around, because he wasn’t worth the hassle, and the money. They openly shopped him for weeks, and couldn’t even get a third round draft pick in return. Cooper was kept around after saying the “n” word. I’m not condoning his behavior, but many other players have been kept around for worse, like rape, sexual assault, and murder accusations. Stop it already!

Solomon Jones

Many other players have been kept around after worse. Exactly. Thank you for making my point.


Bottom line… Eagles seen more value in Cooper then Jackson. Right, wrong or indifferent it is a buisness at the end if the day. But ofcourse some will make it a race issue like yourself.


Nobody made your point… in fact… you’re doing a terrible job of making your point. You act like DeSean Jackson was given one chance with the Eagles and at his first slip up… he was released. No…. he admitted to playing an entire season at less than full effort because he was unhappy. DeSean Jackson was about to be TO of 2005… a huge pain in the ass. Please… explain to me how Riley Cooper is currently being a pain in the ass???? you can’t… because he’s not. he’s currently being a professional.


Great piece!! It’s a shame how these things are so blatantly played out in our faces!

Tinksha Nathaniel

EXACTLY…………! The Eagles organization took the cowards way out , by leaking rumors or letting rumors take wings and soaring. They should of just let him go if they no longer needed his services. But when you vilify a man’s character in order to get out of contractual situations, you are destroying the only thing in this world a black man has , his character and his good efforts! EXACTLY……. Riley Cooper was given that privilege pass and DeSean Jackson was just passed.


Bottom line: For the money, Maclin is way better than Jackson. He’ll catch 75 balls for 1100 yards at half the price, Sproles will make up the rest and then some, the DJax money will be spent on the defense. DJax was not going to be an Eagle this year. The gang stuff just killed his trade value and cost the team a third round pick from Carolina.

Solomon Jones

Maclin has never had an 1100 yard season, and I doubt he’ll have one coming off his second ACL injury. Sproles is an okay addition, but isn’t he 32? From a football perspective, I hope they have a better plan to replace DeSean Jackson’s production.


Yes, way different offense though. DJax was the flanker in Reid’s offense, Maclin was the split end. The flanker gets the bulk, the split end gets the clutch point passes in that version of the West Coast. Hence, DJax had more catches and yards, Maclin had way more TDs and first downs.

An ACL injury is a five month injury these days. Maclin will be 13 months out by week 1.

Plain and simple, this is a football move. Kelly did not like Jackson. He did everything he wasn’t supposed to do. Helluva talent, but complete disregard for the team (no exit interview etc.) And then, despite being amply compensated, if not overpaid given some of the receivers he out-earns, has the gall to want to renegotiate his contract – and says so publicly. It’s just silly. Kelly didn’t sign Jackson. His hand was forced to use him as he had no other option when Maclin went down.

Same thing will happen with Cooper. Once Kelly finds his pass-catching TE, he’ll have no use for Cooper. This coach does not care about gangs or n-words, he’s a football coach first and foremost. His goal is to construct a versatile group of 11 players that can stay on the field for a complete drive with no subs. DJax was never in that equation. His newly available $10.5 million dollar salary is however.

Solomon Jones

Good points. I personally think it’s a matter of great hubris to get rid of one of the top receivers in the league because you think you can plug anyone into your system and watch it go. Hubris tends to come back and bite people in the butt. By the way, I don’t think Jackson was seriously demanding more money. A reporter asked him an offhand question and he gave an offhand answer. We’ll see if he was worth the money when they suit up without him.


Can’t argue that. Great stuff as always, sir.

Solomon Jones



Solomon, what would you have said if Reid released T.O. after the Super Bowl season because T.O. was acting unprofessionally and causing a rift in the locker room? Clearly releasing a top receiver in the league isn’t always a bad decision.


Maclin is better than Jackson.

Skdamc Da Partystarter

The folks who need to see and absorb this won’t. Most Black men with a scintilla of self awareness can see what’s going on. I lost a BUNCH of respect for Kelly. What I hear is Reilly is “His kinda guy” but Jackson isn’t. Serious double standard. DJax did himself NO favors with his social media exploits. Of course. T=the usual suspects from the Northeast, South Jersey, Fishtown and Port Richmond are gonna have a field day with this. Not because they have an honest intelligent, honest and thoughtful response but because this appeals to their base feelings and prejudices. I’m JUST ABOUT done with Philly and it’s “fans”.


Actually, since you “know” he raised money to fight pancreatic cancer, then you also know that his “charity” never contributed a single dime to research, patients, familys of those affected, or any thing other than its giant gallas. He threw huge parties. That is the extent of his charity organization. It is a matter of public record if you would like to check.

Also, the team never once made an announcement as to why they released Jackson, the article about his gang affiliation was written by a source not affiliated with the team. It is tough to condemn them when in reality he was likely cut due to tue fact that he was an underperformer, totalling less than 1000yards and no more than 6 TDs in each of the previous 3 seasons, until he was in the new coaches system. Right or wrong about it, that coach believes he can pay someone much less than 10million a year and get the same 1300yd 9TD season out of them in his system. Put that in conjuction with the fact DeSean has been an issue on the sidelines, yelling at his coaches, and wants even more money now…i think you will find that is why he was actually let go. Race has nothing to do with it.

Let me also say that I absolutely found Riley Coopers transgressions deplorable, and I find DeSeans actions (say what you will, but throwing up gang signs while in uniform, in the public eye on national television is advertising your affiliation with them) to be a problem as well. They are certainly two different issues that carry different ramifications, but i would certainly not not choose to crucify one and let the other off the hook, just because one is black and the other is not. I feel as though I see this come up everytime a black athlete is portrayed negitively, and i truely feel that is where it becomes racist. Richie Incognito is dead wrong for his actions and we all damn him with impunity. But if he was black, there would have been a faction of media claiming he was being punished more harshly due to racism. I really feel like the issue would die more quickly if that was not always the judgement.

Craig Browne

Desean Jackson was treated differently that Riley Cooper because he was making top-5 wide receiver money and the Eagles didn’t want to pay him. The behavior with the team, the rumors, etc may have been ancillary – but they weren’t the primary cause of his release. These are the same Eages that signed Michael Vick when he was a pariah, and now the front office is racist?? Please!! This was cost-benefit analysis – cost $10.5 million to a wide receiver one concussion away from a possible retirement. respectfully, the analogy to Cooper is silly – simply inappropriate given the context. First, using racially incendiary language does not make one a racist – if so, most black folks would have to accept the label (myself included). Second, it was well know that Desean was something of a malcontent in the locker room – where Cooper was largely respected before the incident and by all accounts has worked hard to regain that which was lost. Third, Cooper is making an average salary, and as they are most familiar with his play and potential, the Eagles are best suited to determine his on-field value. I’m an Eagles fan – I hated the move….but I didn’t see any racial animus. We are too quick to call “racism” – We need to be more careful when we levy that particular accusation. Too frequent usage of the charge undermines our ability to combat actual discrimination.


Craig, well said, my friend… Bottom line, I’m of the believe this is all about the “cost benefit analysis”. What I don’t understand is why the Eagles aren’t just saying it; instead of allowing this to fester into a racial/discrimination issue. Must admit I’m hating the fact that they released him and even more the fact he’s now a “Redskin”. Chip Kelly, I sure hope you know what you’re doing, this town will be most unforgiving if “DJax” leads the Redskins to an NFC East Title!!!!

Solomon Jones

And if the gang thing was an issue, the Redskins would not have given him a $24 million contract, with $16 million guaranteed. It was a smokescreen, which, again, makes the Eagles’ behavior in all this even more troubling. That’s why I had to say this:

Solomon Jones

I disagree. Michael Vick was brought in by Andy Reid, whose own experience two troubled sons gave him a keen understanding of the value of second chances. Under the Eagles’ model, the coach makes final personnel decisions. Clearly, this is a different regime than the one that brought in Vick. New coach, new GM, new culture. So the Vick comparison doesn’t really apply. Second, if it was all about money, why not just say that? Instead, Chip Kelly called DeSean Jackson, made him think he was staying, and cut him 40 minutes after a story was published that implied Jackson was in a gang. At best that is dishonest, especially since the Eagles knew about the gang rumors when they signed Jackson to a $48 million contract. Lastly, the DeSean Jackson Riley Cooper comparison is wholly appropriate. They play the same position on the same team and both are veteran players who were brought in under the same regime. The EEOC would see them as similar workers. Both committed infractions, and the two were treated differently. You say it was because of money. Perhaps, but if it was all about money, they should have said that. Instead, they allowed a gang story they already knew about to fester, and released Jackson 40 minutes after its publication.

Finally, you never have to worry about me failing to call out different or unfair treatment because of what the larger society might think. I call it as I see it and let the chips fall where they may. Coincidentally, there are many white fans and readers who see it as I do.

Craig Browne

As an Eagles fan, who follows the team closely, I can tell you that it is not at all clear who made this decision. The front office personnel in place today are the very ones who signed Jackson to a 5 year extension 2 years ago…same general manager, same owner. Further, there are reports that Jackson was a poor teammate, that his behavior in the locker room was awkward and boorish, and that his attitude was to largely blame for his departure. You are making assumptions based on the timing of the report and the team’s silence. They NEVER said that claims of gang ties had any bearing on his release. As to the Cooper/Jackson comparison – Cooper was never accused of being a poor teammate, having a poor work ethic, or being late and in attentive in team meetings. He was involved in single incident – where Jackson had exhibited a pattern of behavior that drew the ire of the coach. These are very different circumstances.

Last, I’ll say I was taught to pick your battles. There will always be discrimination – what we need to call attention to systemic/institution racism……not individual incidents. As for people’s perceptions, everyone is entitled…….but some conclusions are simply not supported by fact.

Solomon Jones

You said, “This was cost-benefit analysis – cost $10.5 million to a wide receiver one concussion away from a possible retirement.” That’s wrong, by the way. He was scheduled to make $10.25 million — a difference of $250,000. The Eagles statement said, “After careful consideration during this off-season, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson.” With all due respect, given the facts available, I can only conclude that your statement about cost benefit analysis is based on an assumption.

I am a columnist. I write my opinion based on facts. In this column, I said I was troubled by the different treatment that Jackson and Cooper received. Then I laid out factual information to back up my opinion. Cooper committed an offense, was offered counseling, left training camp for a few days, and paid a fine whose amount was not disclosed. Jackson, on the other hand, was released from the team 40 minutes after a report on possible gang affiliation came out. That is a fact, not an assumption. Also, I never said the Eagles were a racist organization, and concluded my column by saying I hope the difference in treatment was not due to race.

You’re correct when you say Cooper’s teammates did not publicly indicate he was a bad teammate, but LeSean McCoy spoke out publicly and on the record about Cooper’s use of the N-word, saying he could no longer respect Cooper, whom he’d once considered a friend. Those who said Jackson was a bad teammate, if in fact they said it, said so anonymously.

It could very well be that the team released Jackson for money issues, but other teams did not believe he was “one concussion away from retirement.” That’s why the Redskins signed Jackson to a deal with more guaranteed money than he would have gotten from the Eagles. And I think NFL teams have a better idea of a player’s value than either of us.

I hear you on systemic racism. I encourage you to read some of my work on Newsworks and AxisPhilly to see what I’m doing in that regard. In the case of DeSean Jackson, I felt he was treated unjustly and I wrote about it. You may disagree, and that’s fine, because that’s part of the fun of being a columnist in the digital age. Please continue to pick your battles and fight racism in the way you think most effective. I’ll do it in the way I think is most effective, and hopefully, at the end of the day, something will change.


Dude. I respect you Solomon, but you need to stop arguing with Craig Browne on this issue and LISTEN to him. You are coming off as completely biased. Riley Cooper had ONE INCIDENT…… and NO FURTHER PROBLEMS. Trying to compare these two players is stupid…. DeSean Jackson HAS HAD ONGOING (AS IN MULTIPLE) PROBLEMS… and there is no sign that those problems were going away. He just started complaining MORE about his contract. Do you see ANY signs that Riley Cooper is causing locker room issues???? ANY SIGNS?? If DeSean Jackson made ONE mistake and got released… fine… there would have been a double standard. But DeSean Jackson is an ONGOING PROBLEM….. who makes a lot more money. You’re comparing a rotten apple in DeSean Jackson to an orange. If Riley Cooper was an ogoing problem on the team… with no end in sight… he would be gone too.


Get real. I’m losing a lot of respect really fast. You think that DeSean Jackson got released because of those stupid gang reports? Come on man. Open your eyes.


You need to start thinking more deeply if you can’t see the difference between an ongoing problem, and a one time problem that has been fixed. If you could choose to have one injury… what would it be? a clean break that heals and let’s you come back full strength… or a lingering problem that keeps acting up on you and never fully heals? DeSean Jackson was the lingering problem that kept coming back and never fully went away. That’s why he is gone. Riley Cooper made a mistake and fixed it.


Props to this response.

[…] Redskins was a done deal. As a lifelong Eagles fan, I’m angry about it, not just because of the way it was handled by our new coach,  Chip Kelly, but also because it is just another example of what I’ve seen […]


Come on man. This article is beyond stupid. You think it’s about race? Riley Cooper made a really really stupid mistake… admitted his mistake, apologized for his mistake… AND CAUSE ZERO PROBLEMS AFTER MAKING HIS MISTAKE. DeSean Jackson is an ongoing problem. DeSean Jackson was starting fights on the sideline, missing team meetings, complaining about his contract time and time again. If you can’t see the difference in these two situations… then you are just being willfully ignorant. This is not about race. This is about maturity…. and one guy who did something stupid and owned up to it and acknowledged it… but has decided to make a change and act professionally (Riley Cooper), and another guy who is acting a fool on the sideline, not owning up to his mistakes, and continuing to act unprofessionally with absolutely no sign that there will be any changes. To make this about race is a low blow and irresponsible on your part. Sorry… just speaking the truth here.

Solomon Jones

First, be respectful. This is not some other website where you address people however you wish. That’s number one. Number two, I’m going to respond to you by following your logic. If I am not in the minds of the Eagles brass (especially Chip Kelly, because I believe this was his decision) I cannot unequivocally say that the Eagles have engaged in racism, right? That’s why I didn’t unequivocally say that. I said I saw a hint of racial bias. You, on the other hand, have unequivocally said, “This is not about race.” My question to you is, how do you know? Are you in the minds of the Eagles brass? Can you read what’s in their hearts? Can you speak for them? The answer to all three of those questions is no. Therefore, you cannot unequivocally say this is not about race, because you can’t read minds or speak to what other people have in their hearts. Neither can I. Thanks for chiming in.


Firstly, I’m going to start off with telling you that I say this as a person who respects you and respects your opinion. That being said, when you get out of line, I’m gonna set you straight. It doesn’t matter if you’re my mom, dad, girfriend… when you cross the line, you get set straight, that’s just how it is.
Secondly, I am being respectful. You just wrote an article insinuating, inferring, suggesting that Chip Kelly is a racist, or at least making personnel decision with a bias against black players… and you did it using flimsy evidence, false logic, and comparing apples to oranges… so if anyone needs to take a tone with a bit more respect, I’d say that person is you. If you want to say that Riley Cooper should have been released for what he said… fine… that’s a valid opinion. Comparing Riley Cooper’s situation to DeSean Jackson’s situation is a terrible comparison, completely apples to oranges, and you should have noticed that and dropped the comparison.
Thirdly, you response, where you stated “I can not say unequivocally that Chip Kelly is a racist” is a borderline embarrassing attempt to shy away from an opinion that you wrote an entire column about. Only in Fox News La La Land do “journalists” think it’s okay to make serious allegations against someone through inferences and insinuations, then write articles about that person, then say alleviate the pressure they’re feeling by saying “I never SAID he was _____.” And only in Fox News La La Land are the consumers stupid enough to let that excuse fly. Have more respect for your readers. It comes off a lot of like Sean Hannity saying “I never SAID Obama was a Muslim… I was simply evaluating the evidence.” No Solomon, your article was skewed with the opinion that Chip Kelly released DeSean because he was black and kept Cooper because he was white. Every comment you have made has been in furtherance of that opinion… stand behind your opinion. Don’t try to and distance yourself now by saying “I don’t know unequivocally and I never said unequivocally.” If you don’t know… don’t write the article until you have further evidence. Accusing someone of being a racist or having a strong racial bias against black people isn’t something to just throw out there and ponder on.
I guess that’s it for now. Keep on keeping on, but don’t come with this weak stuff…. I’m gonna Dikembe Mutombo it all day.
Addendum after re-reading my comment:
To back up my comment: The only reason my words come off as less respectful than yours is because I’m addressing them directly to you… whereas you’re directing your words about Chip Kelly being a racist or being biased against black players into a “neutral” space which is the internet. You walk up to Chip Kelly and tell him that he’s biased against black players and the only reason Jackson was released was because he’s black and that Chip Kelly will let white players get away with racial slurs…. I promise you that your words are 10x more disrespectful than mine. So although mine may come off as more disrespectful than yours, because I’m directing them to you and giving you a chance to read them and respond… your words are actually much more disrespectful to Chip Kelly’s character.