Bucs players add support to Tampa ex-offender program
The program was born when players wanted to make a grassroots effort to address social injustice issues beyond the on-field kneeling during the national anthem. “These were things that were important to the players,” said Bucs co-owner and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation president Darcie Glazer Kassewitz. “They are putting this together. They are leading this. Prisons, back-to-work, empowerment for people, this is something they are very interested in. … That’s the beautiful thing about this program. It’s player-led, so it’s whatever touches their passion individually. That’s why it’s going to be so true and authentic, and why it’s going to be so amazing.”The program’s first event took players to Tampa Police Department’s Citizens Academy, where they reenacted scenarios in which officers must make life-changing decisions quickly.
Tuesday’s visit took them to a much different side to the spectrum, listening to those who have served time in jail and now are trying to overcome the stigma being labeled as criminals. Through the Ready4Work program, clients go through a four-to-six week, five-time a week career development crash course, the first step of helping them get jobs and reunite with their families. The program began locally four years ago, and of the 800 clients, 500 have completed the career development program, said Abe Brown Ministries president and Ready4Work director Robert Blount. It can be a challenge to getting clients jobs. Candidates have a 70 percent placement rate ad a 70 percent retention rate of being on the job 90 days of longer, Blount said. Blount said having the Bucs players —seven players attended the event, including Social Justice player board members Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith —visit a class offered “mutual exposure.”
Justice player board members Marpet and Donovan Smith —visit a class offered “mutual exposure.”
The player-led, year-round Tampa Bay Buccaneers Social Justice Initiative — created with $1 million in matching funds from the Glazer family — has adopted the motto, “We are the change.” #Bucs #Buccaneers @Buccaneers @TB_Times @NFLSTROUD http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/bucs/2018/09/18/bucs-announce-social-justice-initiative/ …
Smith sat next to Kingson Aristil, who served 10 years in jail. Aristil, who ran track, cross country and played baseball at an Orlando high school, was incarcerated when he was 18. He is in his fourth week of the Ready4Work program, and looks forward to owning his own business one day.“For the first five years of my incarceration, I beat myself up about seeing guys I went to school with make it pro,” Aristil said. “A little bit of jealousy and envy went through me because I felt like I needed to be them. … Right now, in my life, I’m getting to a point of contentment. I’m happy seeing guys who are younger than me in the NFL doing what they need to do and coming back and giving back. I was broken. I was hurt. I thought I would never be able to compensate for the 10 years that I lost. My spirit feels at peace here. I feel humble here. I feel love.”
“Football and life parallels in a lot of ways,” the Bucs’ Donovan Smith said. “It’s about second chances. Every day, we’re given the chance to be our best. Unfortunately, in society, poorly-made decisions in people’s lives can kind of negate those chance. To come to a place where they are able to be in the path on their way back to normal society, it’s huge. We wanted to make it a point to be there and understand and sit down and talk with the people who are going through these things and hit it all. “Everybody goes through things,” he added, “Just hearing their stories and their similarities, it’s was lack of a better word, weird, because we are on two different ends to the spectrum, but we have similar backgrounds. It was just great to get here and hear the testimonies and just sit down one-on-one with them.
# # #
Ali Marpet, Buccaneers Social Justice Initiative, Colin Kaepernick, DeSean Jackson, Donovan Smith, Gerald McCoy, Glazer Family Foundation, Jerry Jones, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, NFL, President Donald Trump, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs announce social justice initiative
TAMPA — Buccaneers’ receiver DeSean Jackson stepped out of his cleats and walked in the shoes of a Tampa police officer during a simulation training session Tuesday that was eye-opening.
“I was a police officer doing a regular (traffic) stop and I got up to the car and they just started shooting at me,” Jackson said. “I was like, dang. I had to react. I wasn’t expecting that one.”
Almost a year ago to the day, Jackson and teammate Mike Evans took a knee during the national anthem before a game at Minnesota to draw attention to social injustice.
That spurred a team conversation that on Tuesday led to the unveiling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Social Justice Initiative.
The player-led, year round initiative which has adopted the motto of “We are the change,” was created with $1 million in matching funds from the Glazer family that owns the Bucs.
On Tuesday, the initiative’s founding board that includes DeSean Jackson, Gerald McCoy, Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet and about 15 teammates, participated in police specialty team demonstrations and scenario-based exercises at the TPD training facility. They also held a question and answer session with Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.
“I thought there was a disconnect and miscommunication that needed to be cleared,” McCoy said. “And we were able to ask questions and it was an open and honest conversation. We were able to ask hard questions.”
Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who says he goes to sleep each night listening to a police call scanner, said it’s the kind of conversation people need to have in every city. “This is an interesting time in America,” Buckhorn said. “It is an interesting time in the cities of America. It is a very unique time in terms of the police in our communities, particularly our communities of color. This is a challenge unlike anything we have faced as a nation. But ultimately it’s up to us how we resolve that quandary. It’s about communication. It’s about treating people with respect.”
The NFL has been looking for answers to this thorny issue since the summer of 2016, when a string of police shootings of unarmed black men inspired 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel rather than stand for the national anthem. Kaepernick said he was protesting racial injustice. Other NFL players followed his lead, and athletes from other sports leagues joined the protests in various forms. But there were negative responses, even calls by President Donald Trump that players who protest during the national anthem should be fired.
When President Trump launched a sensational attack on NFL players, saying owners should “get that son of a (expletive) off the field” if players disrespect the flag, it seemed to unify players and management. But television ratings saw a slight dip, and owners such as Jerry Jones tried to reach a solution by adopting a national anthem policy at the league meetings in March. The NFL rescinded its national anthem policy and is working with the players association on an collectively bargained one.
Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, Bucs owner/president of the team’s foundation, said Tampa Bay players identified four areas that needed the most help: police relations, criminal justice reform, racial equality and youth empowerment.
The Bucs players have three more events scheduled this year: a Ready 4-work ex-offender training program, a prison crusade with Abe Brown Ministries and a juvenile justice mentoring event with G3 Life Apps.
“I had some questions I wanted to ask because I have some family in law enforcement and I understand that their job, career, it’s not easy,” McCoy said. “It’s not easy at all and they take a lot of heat. Everybody in professional football, they’re not always going to be the best people. They’re not going to make the best decisions. But it’s going to be magnified with something negative. But there’s a lot, a lot, a lot, of great police officers out there and they do a lot in the community. And it’s not just protecting us, but going to schools and talking to groups or spending time with kids they drive past at the park.”
McCoy’s turn in the simulator on Tuesday also did not end well.
“I did the simulation where I actually ended up being stabbed because I missed (with the taser),” McCoy said. “And I did a simulation where, they weren’t aggressive, but it escalated very fast. It teaches you that you have to make split second decisions. The crazy thing is similar to Sundays, you have a decision to make. You have your training. But you’re not always going to make the right decision. They opened our eyes to that today. It’s easy to watch it on TV from afar and say what a person should and shouldn’t do and how things should and shouldn’t go. But when you’re right in the midst, in the heat of the moment, it’s a lot harder than we make it seem.”
DeSean Jackson thanked the Glazer Family Foundation for their willingness to provide matching player contribution, which could result in a $2-million fund for the initiative. He said he hopes other NFL teams will follow suit with similar programs.
“It’s like a trigger affect,” Jackson said. “Once again, I don’t think the Glazers could miss this opportunity. It definitely helped, the conversation we had last year. Definitively, from last year to where we are right now is a huge change, a huge jump.”
Tampa Florida, September 3, 2018
DeSean Jackson, All Pro wide receiver, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his mother, Gayle Jackson, announced today that they have accepted an invitation, from Ire Carolina, Principal, Ernest E. Just Elementary, to partner with the Jacksons and their foundation in an effort to empower and motivate Just Elementary students.
Gayle Jackson states that the timing is perfect. Last year, we were new to the Tampa Bay NFL franchise market. DeSean’s work schedule, the move and getting acclimated to a new team and City were first and foremost. This year, we wanted to re-brand and launch the DeSean Jackson Foundation in Tampa; and, it was important to DeSean that we go “off the grid” to develop a partnership with an elementary, middle and high school where he could be very engaged and impact the lives of those we serve.
Just Elementary is good fit because Ernest E. Just was a pioneering African-American biologist, academic & science writer. Gayle wants to challenge the students to preserve Mr. Just’s legacy; and, hopefully, aspire to a career in research for a cure for Pancreatic Cancer. She also wants to encourage other NFL Moms, of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ players, to join her in bringing Read Across America to Just Elementary.
DeSean is looking forward to meeting with the young men and boys in the Just Gents Club and sharing his experiences and “Rites of Passage into Manhood’ as learned from his father, the streets of Crenshaw, the NFL and now as a father himself.
# # # #
Contact For the DeSean Jackson Foundation: Gayle Jackson, President, DeSean Jackson Foundation, E-Mail: email@example.com
# # # #
Ernest E. JUST ELEMENTARY
August 29, 2018
To: Mrs. Gayle Jackson and Mr. DeSean Jackson – DeSean Jackson Foundation
The Omega Gent’s mentoring was established here at the Ernest E. Just Elementary in 2010. Omega Psi Fraternity, along with school personnel, have been mentoring about 35 students a year. This club’s program ideas are based on the vision of Stephen G. Peters, founder of the original gentlemen’s club, “Just Gents”, that was established here at Just Elementary in 2008. The ideals of the program are to reach and educate All of our children one child at a time. The Just Gents Club provides a vehicle to accomplish this goal.
Our vision at Just Elementary is for students to become life-long learners and have a positive impact on their community. Just Elementary is located in West Tampa across from the North Boulevard Homes where students have been a product of generational poverty. Just is a Title I school with 98% of our students receiving free or reduced lunch. Although the community is undergoing redevelopment and our population has decreased, our student needs have not changed. We strive to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to prepare them academically and socially, but the support of outside organizations is imperative to help us meet our goals. My mantra is the Possibilities are Endless….Just Believe!
Just would love the opportunity to partner with your son, DeSean, and the DeSean Jackson Foundation. Personally, I am a fan of DeSean’s and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It would truly be an honor for my students and school to be affiliated with your foundation.
I look forward to working with you in the near future.
Ire Carolina, Principal
# # # #
About: The Just Gents, Ernest E. Just Elementary, Tampa, Florida
The Just Gents meet twice a month to learn character development concepts and discuss the value of true friendship. Role-playing and modeling techniques are used to create and enhance the individual self-esteem and a number of icebreakers and a scenarios are used to practice effective teamwork. The boys are in grades 3 to 5 and range from 8 to 11 years old.
The Just Gents program is based upon the cardinal principles Rites of Passage Into Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and to Uplift the school’s name sake Ernest E. Just, who was a founding member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Members of the community are brought in to speak with the youth and encourage them to value themselves, families, friends and neighbors. Throughout the year, the youth learn new strategies to deal with the hardships of school and life as a young male growing up in today’s culture. At the end of the year the youth are engaged in challenges to complete task to exemplify what they have learned throughout the year.
Upon completing the program the youth receive awards however the youth who complete the challenges are awarded enriched achievement awards such as bicycles, gift cards, etc. at the end of the year banquet.
ABOUT: Ernest E. Just Elementary
Ernest Everett Just (August 14, 1883 – October 27, 1941) was a pioneering African American biologist, academic and science writer. Just’s primary legacy is his recognition of the fundamental role of the cell surface in the development of organisms. In his work within marine biology, cytology and parthenogenesis, he advocated the study of whole cells under normal conditions, rather than simply breaking them apart in a laboratory setting. In addition to his scientific contributions, On November 17, 1911, Ernest E. Just assisted three Howard students in establishing Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Originally a Junior High School that opened to relieve overcrowding at nearby Blake High School, Just had subsequently been used as a Head Start and 6th Grade Center, and then as an Early Childhood Center, serving preschool, Head Start, and Kindergarten children, until its closing in 2003. In 2003, construction began on a new Elementary School that would, for the first time in 30 years, provide services to the students from its community.
On August 5, 2004, Ernest E. Just Elementary opened its doors to a student population that quickly rose to over 650 children. The staff at Just is striving to provide each and every student with an education and sense of self-worth that will carry them well beyond the education system. Carrying the torch in a legacy that began with our namesake is a challenge that enriches not only the students and staff of Ernest E. Just Elementary, but also the community and beyond.
|ERNEST E. JUST ELEMENTARY – DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION (by %)|
|Total Enrollment||305 students|
We’re close enough to the 2018 NFL season that we can start talking about records that could be broken in the normal course of the Bucs’ season ahead.
DeSean Jackson has a chance to break one of Jerry Rice’s career NFL records. No, not the 197 career touchdown catches, not the 1,549 career catches, not the 22,895 career receiving yards — to be clear, nobody in history is within 40 touchdowns or 220 catches or 6,000 yards of those marks. Pretty amazing.
The record in jeopardy? Most total touchdowns of at least 60 yards in a career. Jackson has 22; Rice has the record at 23, so with just two deep balls in 2018, Jackson has a cool (if obscure) place in the history books. Want to stump a friend? Ask who the next three on the list are. Maybe you get Devin Hester (21), but probably not Bobby Mitchell (20 from 1958-68) or Lance Alworth (19 from 1962-72).
Jackson didn’t have any plays of 60-plus yards last season, just the second time in his nine NFL seasons that he went a full year without one, along with 2011.
Jackson’s 60-yard touchdowns come from all over — 14 with the Eagles, eight with the Redskins; 17 on receptions, one on a rush and four on returns. He had six (!) in 2009.
You can find video of most of the 22 here on the NFL’s site.
Since 1994 (as far as pro-football-reference.com goes back for this), Jackson has the most 60-yard touchdown receptions with 17, more than Randy Moss (16), Terrell Owens (13) and Steve Smith (12). The only NFL player with 10-plus 60-yard TD runs in that span is Adrian Peterson, with 13.
How embarrassingly close was Jackson to another 60-yard score? In 2011, he had a 61-yard touchdown catch that was reviewed and determined to be a 60-yard catch and fumble at the 1-yard line as he tossed the ball a split-second too early in celebration. The Eagles punched it in on the next play.
The Bucs last year also charted Jackson’s all-time ranking in total touchdowns of 50-plus yards. He has 26, and one more will tie him with Owens for third at 27; only Moss (29) and Rice (36) have more than that. So anyway, you have something obscure to root for in 2018. We’ll have more traditional records (that don’t involve Rice) that could fall as the season nears …
Jenna LaineESPN Staff Writer
TAMPA, Fla. — By the time Rhonda D’Haiti got to her 16-year-old son D.J. Myers’ side on July 25, 2017, he’d been strapped to a stretcher, airlifted to the hospital and was moments away from undergoing a 10-hour surgery. Unable to move from the neck down, he looked up at her and said, “If I can’t play football, I’m going to die.”
Fast-forward one year, and Myers, who is now 17, is in a wheelchair and unable to feel anything below his belly button. Football is out of the question, and he has yet to return to his regular classes at South Lake High School in Groveland, Florida. But he’s in good spirits and thriving, thanks in part to some encouragement from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson, whom Myers met in person for the first time Saturday.
“I can’t do it, I can’t do it,” Myers said, fighting back tears, burying his face in his hands and unable to look up as the three-time Pro Bowler walked toward him. “Oh my God, man. Oh my God.”
It was Jackson’s face he saw on a cellphone video, days after surgery, when he was recovering, and Jackson’s autographed jersey that came in the mail. Several friends and family members had reached out to the Buccaneers, telling them about the accident, the result of a collision during a football camp.
“What’s going on D.J.? It’s DeSean Jackson, wide receiver [for the] Buccaneers,” he said in the video. “I heard I was your favorite player. I just wanted to wish you a speedy recovery. Put God first, keep praying, I’ll pray for you as well and hopefully everything goes back to normal. I’m sorry about your injury. Get well, and like I said, put God first and God bless you. Take care, man.”
“I know he was down. I just wanted to send him an encouraging message, to not get down on himself,” Jackson told ESPN. “When you’re diagnosed with being paralyzed and not having a chance to walk, that’s definitely a devastating thing. So [I was] just trying to motivate him and cheer him up a little bit.”
Doctors had to go through the front of Myers’ neck and then the back to remove a fractured C5 vertebra and replace it with a metal piece. A rod was inserted where he fractured his C6, fusing it with the bone. Myers had to have a tracheotomy tube put in to help him breathe. He was in the hospital for almost four months. Hearing from his hero, whom he’d followed since middle school and whose jersey Nos. 1 and 11 he wore, too, brought a glimmer of hope when Myers needed it most.
“I was really in a down place. When he sent that, it really made me want to do therapy, it made me want to get up out of the bed, just do stuff like that,” Myers said. “I was doing therapy, literally, and he sent me the video, my heart just like dropped. I was like, ‘Wow. He really cares for me.’ It really touched my heart that he did that for me. Because not a lot of players would ever be able to do that, ya know?”
Doctors told the family it’s too soon to determine how much Myers will recover. His spinal cord wasn’t severed, but there was damage to it, a condition referred to as incomplete quadriplegia. Myers has regained a small amount of dexterity in his hands. He gets severe headaches, too. Then there are the muscle spasms and stiffness in his legs. The physical therapy has been exhausting.
“It’s like you having a migraine, times 100,” D’Haiti said of her son’s condition. “I don’t know if it’s the shock that goes through his body, but [there] are times where the [muscle] spasms can be so intense that it will literally freeze him.”
Miraculously, though, Myers has been able to stay on track with his schoolwork through correspondence courses and finished last year with a 4.0 GPA. He is entering his senior year and took senior pictures with his high school teammates.
Additionally, Myers has been nominated for the Teen Leadership Council at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and is now running for president of the council.
“His spirit has never faded,” D’Haiti said. “His faith has never faded. He’s still a typical 17-year-old. Like he always says, ‘He’s broken but not defeated.’ That’s his mindset that we try and keep.”
Jackson introduced him to teammates as his little brother. They talked football and video games. Jackson even said he’d get him a copy of the new Madden for his Xbox.
“Is your game nice though? Is it nice or not?” Jackson joked.
Myers snapped back, “Yeah, man, I will whoop you!”
Jackson laughed, “I’ve gotta get your gamer tag then.”
“[I told him], ‘Don’t get down on yourself,'” Jackson said. “I know it’s hard, it’s tough, especially going through therapy. [He’s] taking it one step at a time and just really trying to better himself. Mentally, just not being able to just get up and go outside and walk and play with friends, I’m sure it’s [frustrating], but I’m just trying to encourage him …”
Jackson’s encouragement means a lot, especially now. High school football is starting up again. Myers’ dream was to earn a college scholarship to play at Florida State. Now, he’s volunteering as an assistant to help the high school’s coaching staff, who honored him by retiring his jersey.
Jackson marveled at Myers’ willingness to help his teammates.
“That just shows his motivation, his willingness not to quit, to not give up,” Jackson said. “It shows other players around him that he might be going through something tragic, but he’s gonna continue to be motivated. It shows others around him that it’s not gonna break him.”
Mark Cook, –
Reprinted By: DeSean Jackson Foundation
(On Desean Jackson)
“Desean’s having an excellent camp. I think Desean has really asserted himself, not only as a veteran, but as a leader. He’s tried to take on more of a leadership role and I’m really pleased with him. We haven’t hit him as much as we should, but that’s progress.”
(On how Desean Jackson has taken over a leadership role)
“What he says, his body language. Desean has instant street cred because of his career. The players respect the heck out of Desean, so when Desean has good body language, he’s talked to the team twice so far, he’s going to be the captain this week in Tennessee. You know, it’s a big difference when you see a guy that you respect out there doing what he’s supposed to do versus a guy that’s out there moping around and hats off to him, he’s doing a great job.”
On July 17, 2018, the stars came out for the $50K Charity Challenge Celebrity Basketball Game, presented by Monster Energy Outbreak. The event took over the Pauley Pavilion at UCLA the night before the ESPYs and included such talent as DeSean Jackson, All-Pro wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Eric Dickerson, Simeon Rice, Terrell Owens, Rashad Jennings, Maria Menounos, Iggy Azalea, Blake Griffin, Floyd Mayweather, Tyga, Colton Underwood, Nick Viall, Kendra Wilkinson, Feli Fel, Lindsay Arnold, Rampage Jackson, Omarion, Saweetie, Kendra Wilkinson, James Kyson, Michael Blackson and more.
2018 Monster Energy Outbreak Celebrity Basketball Team Members
The inaugural $50K Charity Challenge Celebrity Basketball Game hit the hardwood at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. Presented by the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour and Live Nation, this special event raised money and awareness for multiple charities in addition to the host beneficiary, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s WHO Cares initiative Teen Cancer America.
Eric Dickerson’s team, sponsored by Boom Cups, defeated Andre Drummond’s team, which included DeSean Jackson who ‘balled out’, (playing for the Andre Drummond Philanthropic Fund), sponsored by Charity Bids, to win the $30,000 for the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation. The final score was 71-64.
Floyd Mayweather & Brittney Elena
Halftime featured musical performances by Tyga, Iggy Azalea and Saweetie, as well as a 3-Point and Free Throw Contest where celebrity participants played for the charity of their choice to win $5,000 for their charity. Jack McClinton (CEO of Active Dreamers) won the 3-Point Contest and there was a three-way tie between Lindsay Arnold (Dancing with the Stars), Colton Underwood (NFL/The Bachelorette) and Brittney Elena (MTV’s Wild N Out) for the Free Throw Contest.
DeSean “DJACC” Jackson – Red Carpet Arrival
Rashad Jennings – Red Carpet Arrival
Tyga and Iggy Azalea
Photos by: ivien Killilea/Getty Images
TAMPA — It starts below the sparkling diamond piercing his left ear: 1 of 1, Fear NONE!
There might not be a better description of DeSean Jackson than the one tattooed on DeSean Jackson.
At 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, Jackson is pound for pound maybe the toughest player in the NFL.
Now 30, he somehow has maintained his electrifying speed and was clocked as the second-fastest man in the league last season.
His story is the kind they make movies about. In fact, they made a documentary of it. DeSean Jackson: The Making of a Father’s Dream.
Jackson’s father, Bill, was a bus driver who moved his family from New Jersey to the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. He drove his sons, Byron and DeSean, hard enough to become NFL players. Byron played receiver for two years on the Chiefs practice squad and is now a filmmaker.
Bill was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during DeSean’s rookie season as a second-round pick of the Eagles, which included a run to the NFC Championship Game. He died in 2009.
Seven receivers were taken ahead of Jackson out of Cal, and only he and the Packers’ Jordy Nelson remain in the NFL. But Jackson was an instant star with the Eagles as a receiver and kick returner.
He earned a reputation for preening and adding much flash to go with his dash. Twice he dropped the ball at the 1-yard line in a premature touchdown but there’s no denying his greatness. Jackson’s career average is 17.7 yards per reception. He’s two catches shy of 500 and has 8,819 receiving yards and 46 touchdowns.
But his six seasons with the Eagles came to an abrupt end when the team released Jackson, reportedly for his work ethic and attitude but also for his alleged ties to Los Angeles street gang members.
Jackson rebuilt his career in three seasons with Washington before signing a three-year, $33.5 million contract with the Bucs with $20 million guaranteed.
Jackson is an engaging entrepreneur off the field, who owns a record company, a marketing company and was the co-producer of All Eyez on Me, a biopic on rapper Tupac Shakur.
He’s father to his nearly 2-year-old son, DeSean Jr. He’s bright, driven, fast, rich, likeable, little and afraid of nothing.
We caught up with DeSean at his new 5,000-square-foot home in North Tampa for a reflective interview with the Bucs’ new star.
What’s fatherhood like?
It’s great, man. It’s taught me a lot more patience to be mellow, and really it’s just all about teaching. Being in the mode of wanting him to do all the right things and grow up and be raised the right way. You take a step back, because you know, just kind of think how I want him to do things.
So much of your story is about A Father’s Dream. Do you have a father’s dream for your son?
The only thing different would be I don’t want him to play football. I want him to play like baseball or basketball probably, where they’re getting all that crazy guaranteed money. I mean if he comes to me saying he wants to do it, obviously, I’m going to let him do it. But I think my dreams would be a little different.
Everything my dad taught me growing up, the characteristics, the hard work, being able to get up and go get it, I still have the same mentality with my son that my dad had for me.
Did you imagine you would be entering your 10th year in the NFL?
Honestly, it’s a blessing. You get all the young guys coming in, the freak of natures, big guys, little fast guys, and it continues year in and year out. So to be going into my 10th year and be playing in Tampa Bay — I couldn’t have predicted that. Like I say, it’s a blessing. I count my blessings and continue to work hard.
It’s a new year, so I’m excited about it. I don’t know if I could’ve predicted that story way back then when I was younger. I don’t know. But I’m definitely happy still to be able to play in the NFL at a high level.
This is a new start, your third team, what about being in Tampa Bay excites you?
I think even before I started, going back to last season with the Redskins, we were trying to make a push into the playoffs last year. Us and Tampa were going back and forth. We would play a game, just finish a game, and we’d be looking over seeing what they were doing on SportsCenter. They had an intriguing team. I think last year they started some great things here with the way their defense played. They had a physical defense, with the linebackers they’ve got and the D-line.
There’s a lot of upside to this team, so I was able to keep my eye on them last year going into free agency and the offseason.
Once I knew they were going to be really interested in me, it just kind of lit a spark in me thinking, “They’ve got Jameis (Winston), they’ve got Mike (Evans). They’ve got a good defense.” I was like, “Man, it’d be cool to play with them.” So once it got time for free agency to see they wanted me, I was like, “Yeah, I think that might be the play right there.” Just looking at them last year, I thought this would be a good fit.”
Did you have any interaction with Winston before signing with the Bucs?
Not really. It was kind of phone calls when he reached out. We just had a good relationship. He showed me early on respect by telling me, “Man, I’d love to have a fast receiver like you. I’ve never played with a guy like that.” So just to have that relationship, being friends and competitors in the NFL, respecting each other, it was one of those “I would love to play with you.” There were never any in-depth conversations, just “Man, if we played together, it would be scary.” And look how it plays out.
How are you going to like living here?
I’m a California guy, so this is close to it. It’s just a little different because of the humidity, the gators and all that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of water. I like fishing and playing with the boys in the pool. I just enjoy the sunlight.
My time in Philly and my time in Washington, when winter comes it’s snowing and it’s raining. You can’t do nothing. So now we don’t have to worry about the snow. Now we’ve got an extra five or six months being out in the sun and staying hot. I’ll take advantage of it when I can.
You’ve become a real entrepreneur off the field with several businesses. You were the co-producer of All EyeZ on Me. What was that like?
The success of the movie has been great. This is my first official big movie. I’m the co-producer, invested in the movie, so the movie did great, and I was very happy about that, especially with my first movie.
I don’t know, just being so far along in my career, you never know when ball is going to blow up and you’re sitting back and doing some other things. I felt like I didn’t wait too long to figure out what I was going to do as far as interaction with kids, movies. I have a marketing company, a record company. I’m doing music. I just really want to help these young kids, just give them a life and give back.
You know, I have much information, so much stuff I’ve been through. I mean, I would be stingy and greedy to keep it all to myself.
Are you doing this with help from your friends?
Yeah, pretty much. I say it’s worldwide because I don’t want to be stuck in one area. But definitely back in California. We’re doing some things in Atlanta. I want to do everything I can while I’m done here in Tampa, so I’ve met Derrick Brooks and Gary Sheffield, guys like that. Just trying to stay influenced the best that I can and work hard.
For a guy like me going into the offseason, this is my 10th year, so it’s not so hard as it was when I first came into the league and thought I had to grind, grind, grind. I still work hard, don’t get me wrong, but at this point, I know what to do. I know what I have to do to get my body ready. It gives me a lot more time outside of football.
Is that something you had to learn to manage, off-the-field interests and training?
I’m training like I’m getting ready for the 100 (meter) race in the Olympics. But I mean, that’s what I love to do.
One thing about track, people need to realize track workouts are very hard. There’s nothing compared to it. You have to run like 300s, 350s, 150s. In football, you’re just sprinting up and down the field. It’s nothing like that. I think this gets my endurance going so I’m able to play throughout the whole season.
You got back to more track workouts, didn’t you?
Yeah, I actually got back with Coach (Gary) Cablayan. I got to the point where I was feeling myself. My physical conditioning was good, but I stopped training with him, so this year I got back to the roots, back to the basics. I’m in the best shape ever right now. Obviously, there’s the heat and the humidity, but I feel good.
They clocked you as the second-fastest player in the NFL last season. To accomplish that at this point in your career, does it go back to all your training with your father?
It’s a testament to just the mentality and the hard work that was instilled at a young age. The people that have been with me, staying on me, staying in my ear. It was always motivating. And not only just motivating, I wanted to get the most out of it. A lot of people nowadays have success and they kind of forget where they came from or forget the steps it took them to get where they’re at.
You got to take a step back and say, “I don’t just want to be here, I want to be great.’ You got to go put some extra work in and get out of your comfort zone and put yourself in more uncomfortable situations to get more out of it.
What do you remember about your time in Philly and how do you feel about the way it ended?
I think about an awesome team. I think about awesome players that if we had stuck together, the sky was the limit. There’s no telling what would’ve happened. (Donovan) McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Mike Vick, LeSean McCoy, Asante Samuel, Jeremy Maclin, me — I can go on and on about the players and talent we had there. When I think about those days, I think about the camaraderie we built, the kind of savviness we had playing together. The Philadelphia Eagles were known as a winning team back then. It was unfortunate it had to get broken up the way it did. But that kind of set the bar early in my career to know what it takes to consistently win, the mentality, the swagger, the demeanor, just the nastiness. You’ve got to have it all to play in this game and play at a high level.
Throughout the way, that showed me I always had to keep my level of play at a high level. You can never slack off, not one player or two players on the team, because football is a team sport. If you have that tight bond and refuse to go down, it was just something I learned.
When I went to Washington, they weren’t really known as a powerhouse or a winning team. They were rebuilding. I mean, they won Super Bowls in the past, but it wasn’t like that. I had to go in there with the mentality and the swagger that when I was in Philly, we were winning: “You guys had some bad years, but we’ve got to change the culture here.”
To come in and do that, I think we did a good job when Jay Gruden was in there (as coach). In the NFL, what you want is camaraderie and everybody being able to feed off the energy.
That’s what it takes to go far.
You look at the New England Patriots. You look at the Denver Broncos. Teams that have won Super Bowls. All those teams have a niche. They have one or two players that set the tone out there, the Richard Shermans or the Von Millers. If you don’t have that savviness, you’re not going to have a winning team.
Sometimes you need guys that have some controversy. You need guys to go out and do the ordinary stuff. It’s something I’ve been able to learn and being 30 now, hopefully, I will be able to bring some savviness this year to Tampa.
Did it hurt you that after you left there were accusations that you had gang affiliations?
Honestly, I think it just kind of humbled me. I was at the point where I was just kind of young. I don’t want to say I didn’t know right from wrong, but in the business world, and being a young guy and being handed a lot, sometimes you don’t understand how to do it the right way. Being young and being rewarded a lot of money at an age that sometimes guys like that wouldn’t know what to do with it. I just had to sit back and like say, “All right, let’s see if maybe I’m putting out too much information or too much on social media.”
Because everybody doesn’t know how to take it. Everybody wasn’t raised the way I was raised or had to go through what I had to go through. I just took a step back. I was frustrated about it, but I’m never ashamed to represent or show where I came from. There’s a lot of people that don’t make it out to see it, so I try to shed a light on it and bring the people I grew up with me. Not only that, go back to the area and hang with them and try to show I’m not too big to keep enlightening them and know it’s possible to make a life. “If I came from the same area and I made it, it’s possible you guys could. Maybe not in football, maybe in something else. But it’s possible to make it.” That was my whole journey. When I did become a professional athlete, and what I was doing in the offseason, hanging out in areas I grew up in. I didn’t feel that was wrong to go hang out with people and do things you did growing up.
I not once was a felon, not once was in jail. They just made this perception out to be that I was some crazy guy.
But did you learn that perception can hurt your brand?
Yes, it can. But you live and learn and you try to do things the right way. Once I went to Washington, they kind of gave me a fresh slate, like “Prove to us you’re totally different from what they put out on you.” Once I went there, I was able to show them I was a team guy and everything was good. I look back at it and say, “It just goes to show, whoever made the decision was wrong and I was right.”
It’s a violent game and you’re not the biggest guy, but you run all the routes. What’s your mentality on Sundays?
I think it goes back to how I was raised and having that no-fear mentality. Seeing the things I saw on a daily basis and never being content. Knowing that if I had an opportunity to make it, I was going to make the most of it once I got there. I wasn’t going to be satisfied just because I made it. I felt if I get there and I make it, after all the doubt and all the hate, then that gives you another fire. After being projected to be a first-rounder and slipping into the second round, there’s just all types of stuff that builds up.
So now I’m on the field playing against all the teams that passed on me, all the critics and naysayers that said I couldn’t do it. I bottle all that up into, I don’t know whether you want to say fire or energy, whatever you can use it for, you use it. It’s just proving people wrong. You’re proving you can go against all the naysayers. You’re proving you can do it under 6 feet. You’re proving you can play like a Randy Moss or you can play like a Chad Johnson.
I just go out and try to do me. I don’t mimic or mock anyone else. Go out and be DeSean Jackson day in and day out and come to work with the same attitude and don’t accept no for an answer. They said you couldn’t do this. Prove to them you can do it. That’s the mentality I have every time I have an opportunity to go out on the field and beat a defender or score a touchdown and beat the odds, that’s what I’m doing, going out there to beat the odds.
They say even a player like Tom Brady still taps into the fact he was a sixth-round pick for motivation. Do you draw from your background to play this game?
I think it’s the common denominator. I knew how good I was. My family knew how good I was. My dad knew how good I was. It just was on me to go out there and prove it. It was on me to show the world what DeSean Jackson could do. I’d say year in and year out, day in and day out, it’s a task. It’s a job. It’s something I’m dedicated to.
Are you going to be dedicated to being great? Are you dedicated to being good? Are you dedicated to just being average? That’s what so funny about it, this world will give you as much as you’re willing to take. When I say take, I mean put in the hard work to do it. You’re not going to get there, you’re not going to do it sitting on this couch and eating popcorn.
You’re going to have to get in that gym. You’re going to have to be uncomfortable. You’re going to have to do things your body doesn’t want to have to do. But you got to go do it. That’s the edge you have to keep.
Being 30, there are guys coming into the league that are 21, 22. I mean, c’mon, they’re freaks of nature. I have to prove I still am the guy. When my time is up, it’s knowing it’s up. It’s not being naive and saying, “I can still do it.” If you can’t do the job, let the next man up.
I’m a firm believer that I still have like five years left.
There’s a lot of expectations for the Bucs this year. What do you expect?
I’m just having fun with it, man. Hopefully we can put together a special year. I think this year will be definitely special. There’s a lot of attention. A lot of expectations. And you know, I remember being in Philly, we had the dream team. That year, I think (backup quarterback) Vince Young put something out there about, “Yeah, we got the dream team.” It was kind of funny because that year, we didn’t do as good. Sometimes you put too much attention on yourself, and it’s good to have attention, but sometimes you want to be under the radar a little bit.
It’s good because you can have attention and still be mellow. We’re not the favorites. But sometimes people can make more out of the attention. sp_I think Dirk (Koetter) has done a good job of letting people know we haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t won any games yet.
How much is playing in the Super Bowl a driving force for you?
For sure, it’s always been the goal since day one. Obviously, everybody plays for personal goals and stats, but the ultimate goal is the win the Super Bowl. Year in and year out, every team I’ve been on, that’s been the goal. Get through the season with a good enough record to get into the tournament and once you get there, everyone is 0-0. It’s man against man. Four games to get there.
I can remember my first year (in the NFL) like it was yesterday. We were one game from the Super Bowl. It’s crazy because I scored the last touchdown that I thought was going to be the touchdown to put us in the Super Bowl and then Larry Fitzgerald comes down and scores a touchdown and we lose. That was like one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (May 17, 2017) –The star-studded 4th Annual Single Mom’s Awards took place at The Peninsula Beverly Hills on May 11. Presented by Single Moms Planet, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization created to assist struggling single mothers, the Single Moms Awards honors notable individuals who inspire, provide an example or give support to single mothers through their work, philanthropy or volunteerism.
Actress Garcelle Beauvais was honored as Entertainer of the Year; Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, Earth Friendly Products CEO, was honored as Business Innovator of the Year; Baby Ecos was honored as the Family Brand of the Year; Gayle Jackson, Co-Founder, and CEO of The DeSean Jackson Foundation, was honored as Sports Mom of the Year; Joanna McFarland, Carolyn Yashari-Becher and Janelle McGlothlin, founders of Hop Skip Drive, were honored as Corporation of the Year; Christy Salcido, Senior Vice President of Ketchum Inc., was honored as Visionary of the Year; Jan Perry, General Manager of the Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Development, was honored as Leader of the Year; and Karla Keene, CEO of Clarity RX, was honored as Entrepreneur of the Year.
Single Moms Planet was founded by event producer and television host, Neferteri Plessy to bring much-needed programs to under-resourced single mother households.
The event, held at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, was hosted by NBC 4 Los Angeles reporter Beverly White and author/TV personality Rosie Rivera, sister to late banda singer Jennie Rivera. Among the guests were NFL stars DeSean Jackson, Rodger Saffold, Jamon Brown and Todd Gurley, as well as actors Daphne Wayans, Carrie Stevens, Christy Buss, Alyssa Reeves and many others.
[Rodger Saffold, LA Rams; DeSean Jackson wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Jamon Brown, LA Rams; Todd Gurley, LA Rams as seen here showing their support of Single Moms Planet.]
This year’s presenters included Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley; Actor, Tom Williamson (“The Fosters”); TV Producer, Kerri Zane; Entrepreneur, Anastasia Soare, founder of Anastasia of Beverly Hills; CEO of The Balanced Mom, Asia Saffold; and noted fashion bloggers Heidi Nazarudin and Rachel Pitzel.
DeSean Jackson, wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed up to support his mother as she was being honored as the Single Moms Planet, “Sports Mom of the Year.”
[DeSean Jackson wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his sister, A’Dreea, attend the Single Mom’s Awards in support of their mother Gayle Jackson as she received Single Moms Planet “Sports Mom of the Year” Award.]
“I am very honored to be here to receive this award and to be a part of such strong community of people,” Beauvais said. “I am very thankful to Single Moms Planet and to my incredible family which is the most important thing in my life!”
[Joanna McFarland, Carolyn Yashari-Becher and Janelle McGlothlin, founders of Hop Skip Drive are presented with the “Corporation of the Year” award by the CEO of The Balanced Mom and wife of NFL Player Rodger Saffold of the LA Rams.]
[Anastasia Soare, founder of Anastasia of Beverly Hills, presents actress Garcelle Beauvais with the Single Moms Planet, “Entertainer of the Year” award.]
2017 SINGLE MOM’S PLANET SPORTS MOM OF THE YEAR
4th Annual Single Mom’s Awards
HONORING GAYLE JACKSON
“Single Moms Planet Sports Mom of the Year Award”
We are proud to announce that we are honoring Gayle Jackson with the 2017 Sports Mom of the Year Award. Gayle is the Co-Founder and President of the DeSean Jackson Foundation, founded in 2009 to raise Pancreatic Cancer awareness, after her husband, Bill, died from Pancreatic Cancer while her son, DeSean Jackson, was a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles. The mission of the foundation is: To advance the common good by caring, cultivating, collaborating and advocating–One Team, One Purpose.
To date, DJF is one of many business ventures developed by DeSean and Gayle Jackson; but, the only non-profit entity in their diverse portfolio of interests and holdings. Gayle takes a considerable amount time and effort to keep DJF a separate, distinct brand with no encumbrances from DeSean’s personal or professional interests. DJF is a public charity that has been incorporated in each NFL city where DeSean plays with the intent and purpose to improve the quality of life for those in need, acceptance, sensitivity and tolerance through their unique brand and DeSean’s status in the NFL; and, the Jackson family is truly hands on. This requires a complex strategy of re-branding from the NFL franchise markets of the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and, as always their home base in Los Angeles, CA. Gayle also oversees all of DeSean’s professional and personal endeavors, brand and image as his mother, manager and business partner.
In 2013, the Jacksons were successful in bringing the documentary The Bill Jackson Project: The Making of a Father’s Dream to fruition. It was the result of 18 years of Byron Jackson documenting every aspect of the making of his NFL All Pro brother, wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, from Pop Warner to the NFL Pro Bowl; and, the rocky journey of a family to stay together through it all, despite their differences and in the face of mounting pressure; and Bill Jackson’s battle with Pancreatic Cancer. The documentary was distributed by several major cable outlets, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target and was selected for viewing at the prestigious San Francisco Black Film Festival XL, June 13th – 16th, 2013.
In 2015, BET debuted the unscripted, reality show, DeSean Jackson: Home Team, which one again profiled the Jackson family living the atypical everyday lives of a NFL family who’s matriarch is a single, phenomenal woman who leads a team of female associates who manage the personal and professional affairs of a high-profile professional athlete. Gayle received numerous accolades for her honest depiction of the obstacles, pitfalls, uncertainty and truth about the reality of being an NFL family; and, especially being a mother of a NFL player—her strength, resolve and brutal honesty. The reality show was filmed during NFL off-season and aired for one cycle on BET.
Credit: BET, DeSean JacKson: Home Team
On June 16, 2017, the long-awaited Tupac Shakur biopic, All Eyez on Me, (another Jackson business venture) will be released. DeSean, is an investor, movie producer and has a cameo role. Gayle states this is part of God’s plan for transitioning her son for life after football with her blessing and support. Evidence of the values and virtue instilled in DeSean by his mother.
Gayle is a graduate of Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, former probation officer for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and was formerly employed at Warner Bros and Capitol Records, Los Angeles, CA in the legal, marketing & artist development (domestic & international) departments; Ron Sweeney, Esq. who managed Kylmaxx, Alexander O’Neal, Cherrell, The Time, BabyFace and others; and, Patrick Raines & Associates who managed Al Jarreau and other artists.
Gayle has been profiled numerous times during DeSean’s tenure in the NFL in regards to her work as a former board member, of the Professional Players’ Mothers Association (PFPMA); NFL Mom’s Read Across American Program, the Pancreatic Cancer “Purple Out” and as her son’s liaison with the NFL, NFLPA, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. She was also profiled in Ebony magazine in its special Mothers’ Day edition that highlighted prominent NFL players and their mothers; and, was one of the recipients of the 2015 Beauty In/Beauty Out (BIBO), Los Angeles, phenomenal women awards.