The New York Times
The Fifth Down
The New York Times NFL Blog
November 10, 2012, 3:21 pm [Reprinted by The DeSean Jackson Foundation with permission on November 10, 2012.]
By JOE BRESCIA
Although the Philadelphia Eagles are only 3-5, DeSean Jackson is having a terrific season with 37 catches for 624 yards. In 2010, he was the first player selected to the Pro Bowl at two positions: wide receiver and return specialist.
Jackson, who also excelled in baseball at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California, was scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies before he decided to play football at California.
Now 25, he is a spokesman for Nike+ Kinect Training, a personalized workout program.
You’re on pace for career highs in receptions and yards this season. And no drops, too. What do you think is the reason for your success?
This year has been very challenging for me and my team. For my part, I’m still trying to do anything in my power to be the big-play threat. Any time my number is called, I try to be on call, be open, catch the ball and just try to do the best I can to help my teammates make plays and score touchdowns and help us win. But as far as no drops, I’m fortunate about that. I pride myself on not dropping the ball and catching everything that comes my way. And that’s a good thing to keep going.
Why do you think Michael Vick has struggled this season?
This season just hasn’t been one of his best years. As far as why he’s struggling, I think defenses are putting a lot of pressure on him because of the blitzes and the amount of pressure coming in his face. I think right now that’s kind of affecting us. Sometimes, he’s getting hit and beat up a little bit, too. He’s just trying to stay strong and confident and make plays any way possible.
Do you like returning punts or would you rather be only a receiver?
Punt returning is something I’ve always been able to do, and it’s a great addition I’ve been able to bring to my team. I’m doing it more part time now because we have a rookie (Damaris Johnson) to help with the load, and it allows me to focus more on receiver. But I always love to return punts and help the team.
Before your rookie season, Jerry Rice was quoted saying that you had “all the talent in the world; there’s no reason he can’t be everything he wants to be.” How did that make you feel?
I was fortunate enough to be able to work out and train with Jerry Rice. I learned many things from him, watching how hard he worked and how he took it as a business. It was a blessing for me at an early age, coming to the N.F.L. and knowing what to expect. I was definitely appreciative.
Do you think you can make the playoffs and be a force in the postseason?
Yeah, I feel we’re still second in our division regardless of our 3-5 record. We’re 1-0 in our division, so as long as we take care of our division, I think we’ll be able to make it into the playoffs. This year might be one of those crazy years for the N.F.C. East. The Giants are leading right now, but they lost to us. As long as we’re able to control our division, I think we might be able to make it and still be a force in the playoffs.
Why do you think the Eagles have handled the Giants so well in recent seasons?
They’re one of our biggest rivals, and they’re at the top. We feel very strongly that our division is one of the best in football. We take pride in that. There’s something about the Giants that we play our best football against them.
What was biggest effect replacement referees had on your game?
I’m very happy the official referees came back. Going through preseason and a couple of regular-season games, they were allowing defenders and defensive backs to get away with a little more contact than usual. So now that everything’s back to normal, it’s been pretty good.
Has the league done enough to prevent head injuries and concussions?
The league does a great job of keeping players protected and a good job of making sure a player’s safety is first and foremost. This year has been pretty good. There hasn’t been any crazy hits and things have been pretty good as far as I know.
Can Nike+ Kinect Training help you get in shape for the N.F.L.?
It can help you get in game condition. It’s similar to some of the workouts we do in the weight room and on the football field. It challenges you with exercises such as agility drills. It helps me prepare and get in shape right in front of my TV.
What can the average fan and weekend athlete get out of the program?
With Nike+ Kinect Training, the average fan is actually able to be home and be physical and not just sit on the couch. Sometimes people don’t want to go to the gym. Or they’re too lazy after work to go anywhere. So when you get home, you can just put the disc in the Xbox and get to work.
Do you ever imagine what it would have been like if you had played for the Phillies?
I played baseball as a kid and in high school, and I never really gave it a chance once I got drafted. I wanted to go to college, get an education, play football and make it to the N.F.L. That was always my dream.
You won a competition of the children’s television game show “Hole in the Wall” in 2011. How did your teammates react to your appearance on the program?
I had a good time. It was my team versus Chris Webber’s team. My little brother and my friend’s brother were on my team. Chris had his nephew and niece on the show. We actually beat them. My teammates gave me a little bit of a hard time about the suit I had on in the show.
What’s on your iPod?
Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross.