DeSean Jackson's father, Bill, succumed to pancreatic cancer on May 14, but it took a few weeks before the Eagles wide receiver felt comfortable enough to discuss his hero's passing.
Today at minicamp, Jackson spoke about it publicly for the first time with The Inquirer.
In late April, Jackson had his father moved from his home in Long Beach, Calif. to Philadelphia to be near him. Bill Jackson was checked into the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he eventually died.
"I knew he wasn’t doing too good," DeSean, 22, said. "But he fought till the end. He was strong. But it was tough going into the hospital and seeing him like that. It was a very unfortunate situation."
Jackson said his father, who played a large part in his athletic upbringing, did not offer parting words. But the diminutive receiver said his father imparted wisdom to him long before his passing. Jackson said he would dedicate this season and his career to Bill.
"Everything about me in sports is credited to him," Jackson said. "Without him I wouldn’t be here. It was a blessing to have a father who did everything like that for me. We had a great relationship. He never accepted anything but the best from me.
"I’m going to be just as strong as my dad would have wanted me to be," Jackson said. "He wouldn’t have wanted me to sit around and mope, tuck my head under my tail. ... It’s one day at a time. I’m just trying to stay strong for my family. This is a hard period for me. But I’m hanging in there."
The Jackson family had Bill Jackson cremated. His ashes were spread somewhere in Pittsburgh and in the Pacific Ocean.
In other Eagles news -- aside from the unhappy Sheldon Brown skipping minicamp -- running back Brian Westbrook did not partake in practice today as he nursed a sole ankle. Coach Andy Reid said that Westbrook complained about the injury last week, and well, that's enough reason for the brass to give its franchise running back a rest. Westbrook had surgery on his left knee during the off-season.
Several other Eagles, though, who were/are recovering from injuries participated in practice. Wide receiver Kevin Curtis (hernia surgery), guard Todd Herremans (knee surgery), tight end Matt Schobel (ankle) were back practicing. Guards Stacy Andrews (knee) and Max Jean-Gilles (broken leg) were at practice but only participated in individual drills.
Back to Brown. Here's Reid's take on Brown missing camp: "If you're not here you give other people an opportunity. ... I remember [former Eagles tackle] Jon Runyan saying that over and over for the last ten, nine years."