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Oh, just in case you have been reading the stream of rebuttals from football reporters who put the word “gang” in quotes and downplay the NJ.com report by Eliot Shorr-Parks, you may have missed this article from CSN Bay Area, which reported that both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders reached out to the LAPD to confirm DeSean’s alleged gang ties:

The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders both reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department to confirm reports of DeSean Jackson’s continued involvement with alleged members of Los Angeles street gangs; LAPD confirmed the reports, CSNBayArea.com has learned.

Last week, NJ.com reported that the Philadelphia Eagles were averse to retaining DeSean Jackson due to his off-the-field affiliations and the mercurial six-year veteran was released shortly after the article was published.

Meanwhile, football writers and athletes have lined up to either downplay the report (which essentially helped to paint a more colorful picture of DeSean’s off-field associations) or completely defend DeSean for associating with unsavory characters.

Richard Sherman on MMQB:

This offseason they re-signed a player who was caught on video screaming, “I will fight every n—– here.” He was representing the Philadelphia Eagles when he said it, because, of course, everything we do is reflective of the organization. But what did they do to Riley Cooper, who, if he’s not a racist, at least has “ties” to racist activity? They fined him and sent him to counseling. No suspension necessary for Cooper and no punishment from the NFL, despite its new interest in policing our use of the N-word on the field. Riley instead got a few days off from training camp and a nice contract in the offseason, too.

Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn. Look at the way many in the media wrote about Jim Irsay after his DUI arrest. Nobody suggested the Colts owner had “ties” to drug trafficking, even though he was caught driving with controlled substances (prescription pills) and $29,000 in cash to do who-knows-what with. Instead, poor millionaire Mr. Irsay needs help, some wrote.

But DeSean Jackson is the menace, right? He’s just as bad as those guys he parties with because he threw up a Crip sign in a picture and he owns a gangsta rap record label. If only all record label owners were held to this standard, somebody might realize that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg weren’t the bosses behind NWA. Jim Irsay lookalikes in suits were.

This is silly. Comparing DeSean to Riley Cooper is silly. Cooper may be the biggest bigot and asshole on Earth. We don’t know. We do know that he’s probably a closet racist. But guess what? Being a closet racist doesn’t make you skip meetings, threaten to hold out because of your contract, hang out with gang members, rent viral video sensations for a week during the middle of the season, instantly gram photos with murder suspects, and get your house burglarized and gun stolen. Excusing DeSean for spending virtually all of his free time with people who find trouble (hell, even his ex-girlfriend, who was in the car when Justin Bieber was arrested) is just ignoring the problem. DeSean’s background may help explain those things, but it shouldn’t excuse them. Do you think that if, say, Jason Kelce was hanging out with drug lords and mafia members, had Carly Rae Jepsen living at his house for a week during the season for the sole purpose of producing the most epic Call Me Maybe meme of all-time, tweeted a picture with George Zimmerman (like DeSean’s friend, also acquitted of murder), and had his house a mile from the team’s practice facility mysteriously burglarized, that the Eagles wouldn’t have a problem with that? Of course not. He would probably be in the same boat as DeSean. In fact, he probably would’ve been there much sooner.

This isn’t a race issue. It’s a common sense thing. [Never mind the fact that the Eagles employed Michael Vick out of prison and handed out a new contract to Jason Peters, who has twice been arrested.] Just because someone is black and had a rough upbringing doesn’t mean the Eagles, or any professional sports team, has to be OK with locker room problems, contract problems and, perhaps worse, troubling off-the-field associations. In fact, DeSean probably got a longer leash because of his background, talent and skin color (not necessarily in that order). In the end, for one reason or another, the Eagles decided that the sum total of DeSean’s negatives – which came with a $10 million salary – outweighed the positives. And that’s assuming there’s not more to this story than we know. Chip Kelly and the Eagles aren’t dumb, they know there are strong personalities in the NFL and that putting up with some of this stuff comes with the territory. Is it possible they made a mistake? Sure. Was their decision fueled by race and one report from NJ.com? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean that what was in the report, combined with other things we know and don’t know, didn’t all play a part in DeSean’s release. His skin color had nothing to do with it, though.

H/T to reader Eric