DeSean Jackson made "an honest mistake" when he overslept Saturday and missed a team meeting, his spokesman said this morning after news broke that the wide receiver will be inactive today for the game against the Cardinals.
"He wants to be an Eagle, he's happy being an Eagle, he loves what he's doing in the community, but he realizes there are consequences for his actions and he's not above the team," said Jackson spokesman Bobby McRae. "When he gets back he's going to be motivated and he's going to work hard to contribute to what he needs to do."
Jackson made it to a team walk through Saturday, but missing the morning meeting was enough that the Eagles will sit him today. Jackson also missed part of another meeting last week.
Jackson's benching, first reported Sunday by Les Bowen and confirmed by three sources, has touched off a storm of criticism and raised questions about the receiver's future with the Eagles. He has not publicly criticized the team over his unsettled contract, but as time passes, the Pro Bowler earning $600,000 has privately grown increasingly frustrated with the inaction on a new deal. Jackson has watched as Mike Vick, and a host of other free agents, including fellow receiver Steve Smith, got deals that pay more than Jackson's (though, to be fair, Smith got far less than Jackson would want and it was only a one-year deal, not a long-term commitment).
McRae, though, said Jackson does not want bad blood to build up.
"He doesn't want it to become a T.O. situation," he said. "He realizes there's certain things he needs to do better."
Jackson's absence comes in a game the Eagles have to have, but looking at the big picture, the first reaction here was that this signaled a rupture in the team-player relationship that may be impossible to repair.
McRae downplayed that concern, though, as have people inside the team, who have characterized the situation as coach Andy Reid making a statement.
Jackson has until now put a professional face on his desire for a new deal. He has not complained off of the field and has increased his charitable work -- adding an essay contest, shopping spree for a needy family and anti-bullying work to the foundation he founded to fight pancreatic cancer. His teammates have previously said they saw a more mature Jackson this season.
But this dust up may erase much of that. Jackson's playing style makes it difficult to place a value on him, perhaps contributing to the lack of movement on his contract. But it's also significant that he has been dogged by questions about his maturity. This will only re-ignite those questions and give the Eagles more reasons to worry about committing major money to Jackson.
Jackson has been having a down season by his standards. His numbers are fine compared to years past, but he has not had the big play impact that makes him special. In fact, his most significant contribution to the outcome of a recent game may have been his costly fumble last week against the Bears.
More as the story develops.