In late April, when the cancer that had invaded Bill Jackson's pancreas spread, DeSean Jackson had his father relocated from Long Beach, Calif., to Philadelphia.
From peewee football through DeSean's tenure at the University of California, Bill Jackson was a staple at his son's games.
However, after DeSean, a wide receiver, was drafted by the Eagles last year, the bicoastal travel prevented the elder Jackson from attending most of the games during his son's breakout rookie season.
Unfortunately, Bill Jackson's latest stay in Philadelphia was his last. He succumbed to cancer May 14 at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania.
"I knew he wasn't doing too good," Jackson told The Inquirer yesterday after practice. "But he fought until the end. He was strong. But it was tough going into the hospital and seeing him like that."
"It's a point now where I think about him a lot," Jackson said. "Sometimes, I still can't believe it's true. But I know he's in a better place and struggling no more."
The cancer was diagnosed in January, during the Eagles' playoff run. Jackson kept his father's illness to himself for several months, spending much of his off-season by his father's bedside.
On May 13, Jackson visited the E.T. Richardson Middle School in Springfield, Delaware County, as part of the NFL's "Take a Player to School" promotion. The next day, his father died at age 64.
The family had Bill Jackson cremated and spread his ashes in his hometown of Pittsburgh and in the Pacific Ocean.
Jackson said he had dedicated the coming season and the rest of his career to his father, who was instrumental in his athletic upbringing.
"I'm going to be just as strong as my dad would have wanted me to be," Jackson said. "He wouldn't have wanted me to sit around and mope, tuck my head under my tail. . . . He wouldn't want me crying. He wouldn't expect that out of me. He knows I'm tough. He was tough."
Running back Brian Westbrook missed practice with a sore ankle, but several other players showed progress in their rehabilitation from off-season injuries or surgery. Guards Stacy Andrews (knee), Todd Herremans (knee), and Max Jean-Gilles (ankle); wide receiver Kevin Curtis (groin); and tight end Matt Schobel (ankle) were eased into practice, participating mostly in individual drills. . . . Rookie tight end Eugene Bright strained his hamstring during practice.