Jackson mentors youth, talks Super Bowl

June 29, 2012, 3:00 pm

Jackson hosts his second annual youth football campDeSean Jackson hosts his second annual youth football camp in New Jersey. 6/29/2012
NICK MENTA

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MOORESTOWN, N.J. — It was hot. Frankly, it was really hot.
Then again, kids aren’t exactly worried about the heat when they get to take the field with an athlete like DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles’ wide receiver hosted his third-annual football camp for local youth Friday morning. It’s a two-day program in which Jackson and his staff coach kids ages 7-16, providing lessons for use on and off the field.

“It’s a driving situation for a kid to be inspired by an NFL player,” Jackson said. “I’m just fortunate to be in the position I’m in. I want to come out and help, and not only let these guys come out here and have fun, but actually teach them life skills as well — teamwork, how to work with another. To have fun, but to get something out of it.”

Over 150 kids dressed in shorts and camp T-shirts ran drills as Jackson and his staff shared tips and shouted words of encouragement, words that, coming from a Pro Bowler, have an extra chance to resonate.

“I think it’s more physical,” he said of the opportunity to interact up-close, rather than have the kids admire him from the stands or from home. “They’re actually seeing it in-person. They’re able to touch it, to talk to me afterwards.”

The camp isn’t Jackson’s only foray into mentoring youth. He appeared on the “The View” last year to meet with a local boy who was being persistently bullied. A big fan of Jackson’s in the first place, he received an autographed jersey from No. 10 himself.

“DeSean is really committed to helping the young guys. It’s a big deal to he and his family,” Jackson’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said. “This is more than a football camp. It’s about staying away from drugs, staying away from bullying, studying hard …

“He’s very committed to being a role model.”

The sight of Rosenhaus not just at the camp, but also in an Eagles hat certainly says something about how times have changed for both he and Jackson. Once public enemy No. 1 dating back to his press conference in Terrell Owens’ driveway, Rosenhaus is now sporting the team’s logo following an off-season signing period in which three of his clients — Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Evan Mathis — inked long-term deals with the club.

As for Jackson, his future with the Eagles became increasingly uncertain last season as his contract concerns remained unsettled. Now, Rosenhaus is wearing the team hat and Jackson has a five-year, $48.5 million contract, $18 million of which is guaranteed.

“This time last year, we weren’t sure what the future held in terms of his time in Philadelphia,” Rosenhaus said. “We didn’t know if he was going to play out his contract or get traded. It’s just terrific that he was able to stay with the team and get a good deal and now he’s got all of his focus on football and doing things like this.”

Things like this — the camp, for instance — allow Jackson to show a side of himself most fans don’t get a chance to see. Still, for as much as he enjoys taking the opportunity to use his fame for good, next season remains at the forefront of his mind.

“Everybody knows we’re due for a Super Bowl,” Jackson said. “I think everyone understands that and we know it’s not an easy task. The past couple years of me being here, being so close, getting to the playoffs, and then last year not making the playoffs, I think the team and the coaches are at a level now where we understand what it is [to have an opportunity to win] and know what’s at stake.

“Everybody’s working hard at one common goal. Contracts — all that type of stuff is out the way now. We’re able to focus as a team. We’re out there having fun.”

So were the more than 150 kids on the field Friday, getting a chance to interact with someone like Jackson.