Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson apologized twice Tuesday for his recent Instagram posts, in which he praised Louis Farrakhan and shared a text that included a fake Adolf Hitler quote.
Jackson’s first attempt of the day to explain and express remorse included a statement and a video, in which he said he “didn’t intend any harm or hatred,” and disavowed any approval of Hitler.
“I really didn’t understand what this passage was saying,” Jackson wrote. “Hitler has caused terrible pain to Jewish people like the pain African-Americans have suffered. We should be together fighting anti-Semitism and racism.”
In the accompanying video, Jackson said, in part: “I post things on my story all the time, and just probably never should have posted anything that Hitler did, because Hitler was a bad person, and I know that. I was just trying to uplift African-Americans, and slavery, and just enlighten my people.”
Jackson said that people who know him “know I have no hatred in my heart, that I’d never try to put another religion down to uplift my religion or my race.”
The second statement, Tuesday evening, was more polished. It specifically apologized to the Jewish community, fans, the Eagles organization, owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman, and head coach Doug Pederson. It also contained a pledge.
“This apology is more than just words -- it is a promise to do better,” Jackson said. “I will fully educate myself and work with local and national organizations to be more informed and make a difference in our community.”
Jackson’s initial apology came as the team released a statement that said the views Jackson endorsed on Instagram “have no place in our society and are not condoned or supported in any way by the organization.”
The statement indicated the team will take further action -- perhaps a fine -- and outlined what the Eagles feel Jackson needs to do to atone -- “... not only apologizing, but using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality and respect.” These requirements were reflected in Jackson’s second missive.
The Eagles’ statement did not mention the possibility of Jackson being released, but it might be inferred that management needs to be satisfied with Jackson’s response. ESPN reported that Jackson, 33, met with Roseman Tuesday and had a meeting set with Lurie.
The NFL indicated it would leave the matter in the team’s hands.
“DeSean’s comments were highly inappropriate, offensive and divisive and stand in stark contrast to the NFL’s values of respect, equality and inclusion,” the league said in an unattributed statement. “We have been in contact with the team, which is addressing the matter with DeSean.”
On Sunday, Jackson highlighted several paragraphs from a text purporting to quote Hitler saying that Black people were the “real Children of Israel” and falsely claiming that white Jewish people were secretly behind horrendous acts of violence against people of color, including lynching.
After receiving harsh criticism for sharing the passage — which has long been debunked as an Internet meme attempting to claim Hitler was not a racist — Jackson posted a new message claiming that his post was misunderstood and that he has “no hatred” in his heart toward anyone, including the Jewish community. So actually, Tuesday’s efforts were his second and third attempts to clear the air, if you’re keeping score at home.
But at that time. Jackson also re-shared a specific paragraph with direct anti-Semitic language about Jewish people extorting America, highlighting the passage with the text, “This ^^^^^.”
Jackson’s anti-Semitic comments drew harsh criticism on social media, including from former Eagles president Joe Banner, who called the receiver’s words “absolutely indefensible.”
“If a white player said anything about [African-Americans] as outrageous as what DeSean Jackson said about Jews tonight there would at least be a serious conversation about cutting him and a need for a team meeting to discuss,” Banner wrote.
Contacted Tuesday by The Inquirer, Banner reiterated his view of the seriousness of Jackson’s transgression, but he also said that if he were still in a position of authority, he didn’t know if he would release Jackson.
“The outrageousness of his comments . . . any claim by him that he was misunderstood, you can’t misunderstand saying Hitler was right. Those three words are pretty clear,” Banner said. “It’s not an accident. You can’t misunderstand quoting Louis Farrakhan, who has said some of the most hateful things about women, gays, and Jews of any human being on earth. Almost always based on lies.
“There’s nothing to misunderstand here. He said it. He meant it. It’s wrong. And we just have to deal with what do we do about it.
“It’s hard to take any apology from him right now as sincere because the comments were so clear.”
Jackson starred for the Eagles from his rookie season of 2008 through 2013, after which then-coach Chip Kelly released him and he signed with Washington. Jackson returned in a trade with Tampa Bay last year and signed a three-year, $27.9 million contract. If the Eagles were to release him in 2020, they would face a $12,536,000 dead-cap charge, according to Spotrac.com.
“It’s all easy for me until you get to the question of whether his job should be affected by it or not,” Banner said. “The emotional part of me says yes. The practical, philosophical part of me says it’s a tougher answer.”
Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, whose own controversial comments about Israel and Palestine have been called anti-Semitic, called Jackson’s Instagram post “disappointing and disturbing,” writing on Twitter, “There’s no defending it.”
Jackson shared several quotes featuring Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has been described as anti-Semitic by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia called for an apology. ADL Philadelphia later tweeted that it appreciated Jackson’s expression of remorse and the Eagles’ condemnation of his statements, and that “It’s our hope he uses this moment as a chance to work with the Jewish community and educate himself further on how dangerous and hurtful antisemitism is.”
Jackson’s problematic posts also included some that cast a dubious eye toward a potential coronavirus vaccine. In one, Jackson referred to philanthropist Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, as a “dumb broad” after she advocated for Black people and Native Americans to be among the first to obtain any vaccine due to their increased risk factors to the virus.
If the Eagles were to consider releasing Jackson, they would have to contend with the fact that the team did not release wide receiver Riley Cooper in 2013, after Cooper was captured on video using a racial slur in a dispute with a security officer during a Kenny Chesney concert. Cooper apologized, and Kelly, in his first year as coach, got quarterback Michael Vick to endorse Cooper’s return to the team after a weekend away.
Back then, Jackson seemed to be among the teammates most reluctant to welcome Cooper back into the fold. Asked if he agreed with the way Kelly and the organization were handling the Cooper controversy, Jackson said: “That’s what they decided to do. I don’t think it’s really going to change the fact, if I did feel good or I didn’t feel good about it. It’s not my business.”