Good things tend to happen when DeSean Jackson scores a touchdown. When the speedy wideout finds the end zone, as he did Sunday in Green Bay, the Eagles’ record is 24-5. There’s no denying the impact he can have on the game. Unfortunately, catching passes isn’t all Jackson likes to do. He showboats. He disappears when things aren’t going his way. And he talks.
After the team’s win over the Packers, Jackson spoke to reporters about the upcoming matchup with the Washington Redskins in Philadelphia, where the Eagles are winless in 10 games — a franchise record for futility. “We gotta get it going,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, we can … win in front of our home fans. But [we’ve] gotta be supported by everybody. Can’t be coming into the game, first quarter, getting boos and all that type of stuff already. You just got to work with us throughout the game.”
My knee-jerk reaction upon hearing that quote was that Jackson needs a reality check. If he drops a long pass this weekend, or spikes the ball before crossing the goal line, he’ll deserve every boo he’ll get. You didn’t win the Super Bowl last year, dude. Your team stunk last season. You’re sitting at .500 now, a number that defines mediocrity, and your squad hasn’t won at home in nearly 14 months. Children have been conceived and born since there were last fireworks at the end of a game at the Linc. The fans do their job simply by showing up. Don’t blame us when you don’t do yours.
There’s no one I respect more when it comes to the sport than Ray Didinger. During the Eagles post-game show on Comcast SportsNet, the usually reserved Football Hall of Fame sportswriter let Jackson have it. “I just think that is so ridiculous and so preposterous — he's blaming the fans? Are you kidding me? They haven't won a game in that building in over a year,” Didinger said. “That's the fans’ fault? I think that that's just ridiculous. I reject it out of hand, and maybe we've just touched on the reason we're not buying into this team.”
There are few things more enjoyable in Philadelphia sports than watching Didinger blow a gasket. Especially when he’s offering a counterpoint to Ed Rendell, who looked into the camera and scolded the audience for booing. “We can’t be doing that, fans,” Rendell chastised. “If you want us to get into the playoffs, we can’t be doing that.” (Note the Guv’s fraudulent use of “us.” And that Brian Westbrook, who actually played the game, agreed with Didinger about booing.).
I’m still siding with R-Diddy and B-West on this one. But in fairness to Jackson, it does seem like we, as fans, want it both ways. We credit ourselves with having a tangible impact on the game. The Vet was a nightmare for opposing teams, a gladiator’s arena where the 700 Level demanded blood. We roar when our defense needs a big third-down stop. We cheer when Shady breaks open a big run. So wouldn’t logic suggest that when we boo, we also have an effect on the game? When the energy of 68,000 people turns negative, how can that not bum you out even more when you’re struggling? Those guys get paid handsomely, but under the helmets, they’re still human (just ask former Miami Dolphin Jonathan Martin). Imagine you’ve had a tough day at work. Now picture everyone in your office, or on your job site, saying you suck, loudly.
Football is a sport of tough guys. We’re a tough town. So when a tough football player whines about the fans and tell us what we should do once we’re in the seat we’ve paid handsomely to rent for three hours, we don’t like it. That was Jackson’s mistake — suggesting the folks who fill that stadium aren’t supporting his team. But maybe there’s something to his sentiment. What if Nick Foles and the offense goes three-and-out, and the ’Skins score, and instead of booing, the fans rise in applause — not in approval, but in support?
If that happened, a few veteran players, coaches and media members would pass out from shock. The broadcasters would be speechless. Perhaps the team would get a lift. But that scenario will never play out. Not in this tough town. So instead of worrying about the soundtrack on Sunday, DeSean, I’d concentrate on making plays. As Westbrook advised: “Give them something to cheer for.”
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