NFL is confident that the Eagles released DeSean Jackson on football reasons and not on claims of gang connections, according to Adolpho Birch, senior vice president of law and labor policy.
Birch Thursday said that he thought they were comfortable that the decisions made on both ends were football-based during a wide-ranging roundtable interview between top NFL officials and associates of the Associated Press Sports Editors.
According to Birch, they received the objectives they sought for on football perspective from either the Eagles or the Redskins, adding that he thought everyone was comfortable at the end of the day.
Asked what gave the league that impression, Birch said it was “based on discussions, based on review of the situation.” He couldn’t disclose what was discussed or whom it was discussed with.
Eagle officials have declined to comment on Jackson’s release after the team made the decision on March 28. Jackson’s release occurred less than hour after an NJ.com report about Jackson’s gang connections allegations. The Inquirer realized that the drive for the team’s decision came from a combination of factors including the wider receiver’s off-field behavior and the effect it would have in the locker room.
Eagle’s attempt to trade Jackson were fruitless but believed the Pro Bowl receiver was virtually untradeable following the emergence of the report. Jackson signed with Washington ever since. Birch said there certainly was no indication that the club reviewed or looked at anything like Jackson’s connections with the gang during his release.
Rodger Goodell, NFL commissioner was available on Thursday since there was no NFL draft on Thursday night. As usual, the draft would have been this week, but the NFL pushed it back two weeks sighting radio City Music Hall’s schedule.
Goodell said it hasn’t really affected the calendar significantly from a football standpoint although it moved everything back a little bit. He however reckoned that from their standpoint, it will be another two weeks people will be talking about their draft, adding that it was not designed that way, but because of conflict at Radio City. He affirmed they were looking at how to continue making the draft bigger and better.
Taking the draft on the road to two different venues was one way Goodell mentioned they would try. He said calculated changes including moving to prime time and shortening rounds helped improve the draft.
Troy Vincent, former Eagles standouts, and currently the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, emphasized that a later draft could push more players to complete their college education and earn degrees. He added the rookies will join the teams deeper in to the off-season.
Rookie Michael Sam will receive considerable attention since he will be becoming the first NFL player who is openly gay. Speaking at the meetings, former NFL player Wade Davis, who emerged after his career, said the workplace environment was a major point of discussion at the league’s meetings in March.
The league is hopeful that Sam will get a professional environment. Vincent said he played with six openly gay players in 15 seasons who were also welcomed into the locker room.
For Vincent, they didn’t view them differently watched film together, travelled together, and were his roommates on the road. He said they just performed, were players, and could not think other players today would treat them any differently.