A week later, it's hard to get the image out of your mind. In the fourth quarter against the Giants, DeSean Jackson ran to the sideline, jumped into the air, collided with Andy Reid, and executed one of those trendy chest-bump maneuvers.
Seems Reid can't even stay grounded when DJack puts the pads on.
"I was afraid I was going to lose my Achilles tendon," Reid joked. "I was just happy when I landed that it was still intact."
If there was any doubt that Jackson is the most dynamic, exciting athlete in Philadelphia these days, that was the moment when the skeptics became true believers. He has singular speed and skills, and his energy is infectious. Even the normally stoic head coach isn't immune.
Who can blame Reid? His reaction was natural. It was the same sort of organic exuberance we all experience when watching Jackson. When you look around South Philly, there are some compelling players on all four teams. And yet it's clear now that the smallest among them towers over everyone else. Jackson is the sports equivalent of Billy Penn, perched atop our interest and high above his peers below.
Philly has been treated to some scintillating athletes. Dr. J was a composer on the court, a man whose moves were symphonic. Sports Illustrated once dubbed Randall Cunningham the Ultimate Weapon, and he was exactly that (until Bryce Paup ruined everything). Allen Iverson crossed up Michael Jordan, and we were instantly mesmerized. Donovan McNabb scrambled with an entire franchise on his back, and Brian Westbrook has broken more tackles than Tiger Woods has hearts. Each of them, at one time or another, was the most exhilarating player in town.
Now it's DJack. I was driving down Broad Street the other day when I saw a posse of kids walking together. Three of the four were wearing Jackson jerseys. Kids always know what's hot right now and where we're headed, possibly because they're an integral part of the future themselves. Ask anyone under 25 who his or her favorite Eagle is right now, and I bet you one name will be chosen above all others.
There's the old sports question about whom you would pay to see, and Jackson has to be right at the top of that list now (amazingly, he has eight touchdowns longer than 50 yards this year). Forget about putting him at the top of the list in Philly. He's on the verge of headlining for the entire NFL. Titans running back Chris Johnson is having an unreal season. Vikings halfback Adrian Peterson is widely revered. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady are undeniably gifted. But for sheer thrill, who wows more regularly than Jackson?
The punt return for a touchdown against the Giants was the perfect example. First he retreated, then he zipped up the sideline past everyone before they knew what happened.
No one can touch him right now. Not even the media. In the locker room the other day, we surrounded Jackson and packed in three and four deep around him. Then one of the Eagles' PR people came up and said he had to end the interview before it started because Jackson had a special-teams meeting.
"I'm sorry," the handler told the press with a smirk before whisking Jackson away. "I'm really, really, really sorry."
The biggest stars get the most attention. They also get the best blocking.
Fine. You're angry because I told you to sit Eli Manning last week. I get it. But if you anticipated a guy with one leg and no heart torching the Eagles' secondary, you're smarter than I am. (Actually, you're probably smarter either way.) Now can I come outside again, or do you plan on picketing my apartment indefinitely?
QB: Kurt Warner, Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco
RB: Laurence Maroney, Jamaal Charles, Tim Hightower
WR: DeSean Jackson, Chris Chambers, Kenny Britt
TE: Brent Celek, Visanthe Shiancoe, Heath Miller
QB: Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, David Garrard
RB: Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Felix Jones
WR: Hakeem Nicks, Jerricho Cotchery, Tory Holt
TE: John Carlson, Bo Scaife, Fred Davis
(Home team in caps)
Last week: 4-2
Giants -3 over REDSKINS: I think you should start Eli Manning in your fantasy league today. What's that? You sat him last week? What idiot told you to do that?
Raiders +14 over Broncos: I took the Raiders last week, and they got smacked. Naturally, I'm doing it again. That's a little something I like to call learning from my mistakes.
Vikings -9 over PANTHERS: Have you seen these Minnesota fans with the horn helmets and animal skin pelts draped over their bare chests? At what point does someone wake up in the morning and think, "I'm going full Viking today"?
Patriots -7 over BILLS: Time for the Hoodie and his sleepwalking team to wake up.
Packers +2 over STEELERS: It's all over, Pittsburgh. Grab yourself a nice Primanti Bros. sandwich. French fries and coleslaw will heal your heart.
EAGLES -71/2 over 49ers: The Birds have won their last four games and are playing awfully well. To borrow from Crash Davis, respect the streak.