His Legend was Born Amid the Gorgeous Backdrop of California High School Stadiums. He Was an Instant Nightmare for Opposing Defenses at Every Level.
Unlike most legends, the story of DeSean Jackson did not begin as a soft whisper in the breeze among the Brisbane Box Trees of Long Beach, California. Rather, it was a multi-sport explosion of excellence.
This star from the Crenshaw neighborhood was electric to watch. He played football, ran track, and also played baseball.
His love was always playing wide receiver. At 5 foot 10, he was an offensive threat on the football field. Let him get behind your defense, and he made you pay. Assign a spy to follow him on the field, and you’d soon tire. Allow him to cross the middle of the field, and your defense was off to the races.
At 10.5 seconds in the 100-meter dash, Jackson also played track and baseball in high school. As a senior, he was recruited for baseball by the Tampa Bay Rays and the Phillies.
DeSean was never meant to play at Citizens Bank Park, however. His future would be across the parking lot in South Philly at Lincoln Financial Field.
DeSean was a football player.
As a senior, the kid who loved receiving had over 1,000 yards for the season. His speed and athleticism helped him to craft his love.
That year, in the CIF Southern Section championship, he would have to defend against the thing that he loved.
Against Los Alamitos High School with the section title on the line, #1 would enter the game as a defensive back due to a series of injuries. During that game in the crisp California night air, he hauled in a couple of interceptions and returned one for a 68–yard touchdown.
“Playing corner wasn’t even in the plan,” DeSean said as his play helped lead Poly to the championship.
In Riverside, Jackson’s legend grew stronger at Cal. He made college football history both as a wide receiver and as a punt returner. He still holds PAC-10 records for punts returned for a touchdown in both a career and also in a season. As a sophomore, he was the top returner in the nation.
As a freshman at Cal in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl, Jackson and Marshawn Lynch unleashed an offensive explosion against BYU in the 35–28 victory. As a sophomore, Jackson returned a punt 95-yards against the University of Arizona.
But the legend of DeSean Jackson was just beginning.
Philadelphia coach Andy Reid and the Eagles Scouts had learned of the legend by the time that the Eagles drafted him in 2008 in the second round.
Jackson was the first rookie to start for Andy Reid as a Head Coach. With former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens watching from the sideline as a Dallas Cowboy on Monday Night Football, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb pumped and threw the football deep to an open Jackson who ran 61 yards to the end zone and mistakenly dropped the ball prior to crossing the goal line.
The play did not phase his confidence.
That same year in the NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals, Jackson hauled in a 62-yard touchdown from McNabb.
DeSean Jackson feasted on the New York Giants. In 2010 in the Meadowlands, Jackson waited for a punt with the game tied at 31 and 14 seconds left in regulation. With the Giants bench screaming at the punt team to avoid kicking a line-drive, Jackson bobbled the ball then secured it and then looked up. As a lane opened up, he was then off to the races to win the game in one of the greatest Eagles comebacks in history.
On his second stint with the Eagles in December of 2020, Jalen Hurts found Jackson for an 81-yard touchdown against the Cowboys.
This season, DeSean remains a free agent as social media rumblings of retirement swirl. The legend of Jackson is forever etched into Eagles lore, however.
With a strong college wide receiver class entering the 2024 NFL Draft, each one of them will bring their own legend to NFL franchises. Few if any, however have endured over time in highlight reels like Jackson’s.
The legend of DeSean Jackson.