“The world will break your heart 10 ways to Sunday, that’s guaranteed. And I can’t begin to explain that- or the craziness inside myself and everybody else, but guess what? Sunday is my favorite day again”
― Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook
Desean Jackson Looks to Find a Silver Lining in His Return to Philadelphia
A Star is Born
On December 19, 2010, with both teams standing at 9-4, the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants met for battle at MetLife Stadium. With both teams vying for a playoff spot, the players and fans were ready to lay it all on the line. After three quarters, the Giants had absolutely dominated on both sides while leading 24-10 going into the fourth. With 8:17 remaining, Eli Manning extended the lead to 31-10 after hitting tight end Kevin Boss for what seemed to the be the final nail in the coffin. Little to their knowledge, quarterback Michael Vick was just getting started.
With less than eight minutes to play, the Eagles scored 21 unanswered points and looked poised to send this game to overtime. Time remained on the clock after a huge third down sack by Trevor Laws forced the Giants to punt. Third year receiver Desean Jackson stood ready to receive a punt. The Giants faithful looked on and expected a punt out of bounds, as they knew how electric Jackson can be with the ball in his hands. The stage is set.
Punter Matt Dodge sends the ball like a laser right to Jackson in the middle of the field. With adrenaline pumping through his veins, Jackson initially muffs the punt but then collects himself and the ball. He takes a jab step back and looks downfield in hopes of finding a lane. Like an artist, Jackson envisions the necessary effort to make this masterpiece. With one more calculation for good measure, he was off to the races. Slicing through the defense and blurring past would-be tacklers, Jackson was making history with each step. After straddling the goal line and mocking his opponent, Jackson had dotted the “I” on one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. A mix of Eagles fans excitement and Giants fans despair filled that stadium all at once. Jackson just became a part of Philadelphia sports history.
One Fateful Day
As the sun rose on March 31, 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles wild-card loss to the Saints was finally fading away in the rearview. However, a new loss would find itself into the homes of Eagles fan that day. For it was on that day that Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler and the star of the Miracle of the New Meadowlands, was released. Jackson had been an Eagle since he was selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. As soon as he stepped onto Lincoln Financial Field, he became a polarizing figure not only in Philadelphia but also in the entire world or sports. Jackson had the ability to receive a pass, handoff or kick and display his blazing speed as he cruised into the opponent’s end zone. But his time in Philly had come to an end.
The Eagles are a proud organization. There is a rich history of players who contributed on and off the field. Eagles fans are known for sticking with the team through the ups and downs. Their passion is often mistaken as insanity; however, their energy is unmatched. There have been great moments in their history but the team had failed to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at this point in 2013. Andy Reid had been the Eagles head coach from 1999-2012. In his tenure, the Eagles found themselves in the NFC Championship five times and lost in Super Bowl XXXIX to the New England Patriots. After a 4-12 record in Reid’s final year, owner Jeffrey Lurie was ready to think outside of the box.
Big Changes on Broad Street
On January 13, 2013, former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly became the head coach of the Eagles. Early in his tenure, it was obvious that big changes were coming in the Eagles locker room and in the organization as a whole. These changes received mixed reviews but winning cures everything. In his first year, the Eagles went 10-6 and won the NFC East. Jackson shined in this new offense posting a career high in catches and yards with 82 catches and 1,332 yards. In addition, he tied his career high touchdown total from 2009 with nine receiving touchdowns. 2013 was already Jackson’s third 1,000-yard season in six and the young receiver was excited to keep on that pace. Kelly had other plans.
Own Worst Enemy
After there were several reports that Jackson had gang ties, the Eagles organization felt obligated to make a decision. Jackson, a player with a clean record was now being made out to be a criminal. With so many local and national reporters pushing this narrative, Kelly finally had a reason to justify a franchise-altering move. Jackson is now a free agent. Kelly told the press and the locker room that it was strictly a football decision; however, that does not seem the case after Jackson had his best season to date. Although the Eagles found success in 2014, the Kelly Regime ended in 2015. Now the Eagles were back to square one and they have lost some of their most talented and beloved players.
A Familiar Face
After the Eagles tried to do something different from the rest of the league and failed, they sought some familiarity. Moreover, they sought someone or something that could bring back their identity. On January 18, 2016, that search was over as Doug Pederson was hired as head coach of the Eagles. Doug had previously played and coached for the Eagles. The city and media had mixed reactions to the hiring. Two seasons later, that same man would deliver this city its first Super Bowl. The one constant from season to season was Jackson. Every time the Eagles played him whether he be on the Washington Redskins or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he would always make big plays and make sure we knew what we had let go.
A Silver Lining
After another frustrating season in Tampa Bay, Jackson was ready for a fresh start. Now at the age of 32 and a family man now, Jackson knew his window of opportunity was closing. Since the dismissal of Kelly, rumors of Jackson’s return to Philadelphia were lingering. On March 13, those rumors became reality as the Eagles traded for Jackson and the reunion was complete. General manager Howie Roseman wanted to right one of the biggest wrongdoings during the Kelly era. Now, Jackson returns to finish what he started. Even at the age of 32, Jackson is one of the best deep threats in the league. Now paired with offensive weapons like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and most importantly Carson Wentz, he is ready to bring some swagger back to this offense.
With the Eagles poised to make it three straight years in the playoffs and only being a year removed from a Super Bowl, they are looking to utilize Jackson’s playmaking ability in 2019. In the Eagles home opener, expect to see a lot of number 10 jerseys and a glass shatter roar as Jackson runs through the smoke in Lincoln Financial Field once again.