Desean Jackson’s alleged “gang ties” may have driven him out of Philadelphia, but the new Washington wideout who was courted heavily by the Raider Nation during 2014 NFL Free Agency is still denying that he has any gang ties at all.
One of the reported pieces of evidence surrounding Jackson’s gang ties were his usage of gang signs on the football field, something Jackson also denies doing. The former California based Jackson is claiming that what many feel are “gang signs” is just his way of showing love to where he is from as a proud native of Los Angeles.
ProFootballTalk reports that in an interview with ESPN The Magazine the hand signals in question may be viewed as gang signs to outsiders, but to him it is paying tribute to friends growing up that never got the chance to play in the NFL. A way of showing that he hasn’t forgot where he came from.
“If I score a touchdown or make a play and my boys at home can see me throwing up the area we’re from, that’s me showing them love,” Jackson told ESPN The Magazine. “They weren’t fortunate enough to make it where I’m at. All my friends wanted to be in the NFL growing up, but they weren’t able to do that, and I was. That doesn’t mean I forgot about them. They’re my boys, I grew up with them, and I’m going to give them love.”
The NJ.com report about Jackson’s supposed gang affiliations quoted a Los Angeles police detective saying the signs were gang related.
“Those were neighborhood Crip gang signs and he flashed them during a game. He may not be affiliated with the gang, but they don’t [ordinarily] take kindly to those not in the gang throwing up those gang signs,” the detective said.
The league has made it clear that Jackson has been suspended for “football related reasons” and not because of the report from local media at the time putting Jackson’s past as well as current connections with gang members he grew up with into the spotlight. Jackson also makes no apologies about where he came from, even if some of his tributes to life back home may bring focus onto the more negative aspects of the neighborhoods in which he grew up in. That is his personal choice, and for the most part the debate over who Desean Jackson should keep company with has died down. As it should as at the end of the day Jackson is an individual who can make his own choices, something that isn’t a problem is he isn’t violating the NFL’s Conduct Policy. Regardless, Jackson does not feel that his tributes to his hometown are gang related even if some in the media and in the league may think otherwise.