Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
July 13, 2011: DeSean Jackson accepts award for Best Game at The 2011 ESPY Awards.
DeSean Jackson is a smart, mature man. I know this because Jackson had little trouble learning the NFL routes and starting in his rookie year. I know this because he's done stand-up work against bullying. I know this because of his pitch-perfect ironic delivery during his turn selling jerseys at Modell's.
Moreover, I know Jackson is savvy and levelheaded because he has learned from the mistakes of wide receivers past and hasn't gone to the media with his contract issues. Knowing that keeping his mouth shut can only help negotiations isn't a difficult concept to understand, but carrying it out when he is in front of the media constantly requires tremendous discipline.
Yet despite all of this evidence, DeSean confounds his fans by continuing to commit absolutely bonehead mistakes on and off the field. There were his goal line celebrations -- parts one, two, and three -- that threatened to overwhelm the actual events. More recently, Jackson directed gay slurs at a rude caller during an appearance on the radio.
I'm not entirely sure how to reconcile these two persona, although I don't think (as some do) that DeSean's public character is simply an act. That's silly and overwrought.
Rather, I think a more likely explanation is that Jackson is simply a 24 year-old kid who still has a hard time balancing and moderating his burgeoning stardom. When he commits the time and energy to doing something the right way, he manages to be a role model as a hard working athlete, an effective community service leader, and a responsible actor in his NFL business dealings.
Paradoxically, it is his quickness that often seems to get him into trouble. DeSean's feet and tongue tend to run a little bit ahead of his brain, and his fans suffer an uneasy twinge each time he lets a moment get away from him. Hopefully Jackson will grow out of it while he still has that one-of-a-kind speed left to burn.