Stop Expecting NFL Stars to Abandon Old Friends

Richard Sherman: Don't judge DeSean Jackson by company he keeps
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2014 1:26 PM CDT
Stop Expecting NFL Stars to Abandon Old Friends
DeSean Jackson speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia in this 2013 file photo.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Philadelphia Eagles cut DeSean Jackson in the midst of reports that he has ties to gang members. Is he in a gang himself? Fellow NFL player Richard Sherman, who grew up with Jackson near Los Angeles, doesn't know one way or another, but he's got a little trouble with the term "gang ties," he writes at Sports Illustrated. "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," he writes. "I can't."

But what's the alternative? Are players like Jackson and Sherman supposed to cut ties with people—friends who were always there for them—as soon as they become millionaires? No dice, writes Sherman. "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." Even if most ignore the help, some do accept it. If you're judging Jackson without knowing him, you're wrong. And if the Eagles—a team happy to keep a white player who hurls racial slurs—did indeed cut him because of "gang ties," then "they did something worse," writes Sherman. Click for his full column. Or to read about his playoff "thug" controversy.)

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