BETHLEHEM - This much, DeSean Jackson did manage to reveal: that he is not Terrell Owens, that he isn't interested in being a distraction, that he wants a new contract but that he also very much wants it to be from the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I always wanted to be an Eagle," he said, which will be the headline but which also was a pretty accurate measure of the undertone.
With Jackson, it really does appear to be just business, not insurrection. And now we get to find out if he means it.
Because yesterday afternoon, the entourage arrived, a "Wassup?" was uttered, a physical examination was passed, bread was broken, a walkthrough was walked through, and then Jackson approached the microphones.
In a little less than 8 minutes of talking, Jackson did very little answering. For the last 11 days, he has been absent from Eagles training camp because he wants a new contract. That much we know.
But he wouldn't say what he was trying to accomplish. He wouldn't say if he accomplished anything. And he wouldn't say if negotiations on a new contract have begun between the club and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who made a dignified spectacle of himself by attempting to attend the team's afternoon walkthrough only to be shunted over to the grandstands by security personnel. It seems that agents are never permitted at practice - and especially this agent, if you know what I mean.
So, here was the picture. A dozen cameras were lined up to record the return of Jackson to the practice field. Club president Joe Banner, who almost certainly would be the one to negotiate a new Jackson deal, was not at Lehigh. Rosenhaus was in a kind of holding pen next to the stands, talking on the phone and signing autographs for fan-type people who had not received the memo concerning just how awful an NFL walkthrough is as an entertainment vehicle.
And Jackson was standing around, chatting with his coaches and his teammates and then doing a press conference where he could identify neither the cause nor the benefit of an 11-day holdout that only ended because to prolong it would threaten Jackson's future free-agency rights under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
"I think my game speaks for everything," he said. "The only thing I control is playing between the white lines. I can't control contracts. I can't control anything else."
And thanks for coming.
If you want to look at the whole thing as a colossal waste of time, you will not be discouraged here. Still, if you take a half-step back, the argument can be made that this was a win-win. Jackson got a chance to flex his muscles a little and display his unhappiness with his contract, a skill set that every budding star needs to master if he is to be taken seriously in the clubs of Hollywood and South Beach. He also managed to avoid the majority of training-camp practices at Lehigh, which means he managed to avoid a significant amount of the meaningless injury risk this summer.
As for the Eagles, they didn't appear to give in during the holdout and begin negotiating the new contract that everyone knows Jackson deserves - which they likely would have had a hard time doing anyway, what with all of the transactions they committed last week. They also kept the rhetoric to an absolute minimum, inflaming no one. And whether or not they want to admit it, Jackson is a player who does not need much camp and who does not need that previously mentioned meaningless injury risk.
Win-win, then. Just don't ask for a logical explanation of the whys and hows and wherefores.
"He's excited to be back, which is good," Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said. "He's ready - ready to come back and help this football team win games."
With the right mindset?
"Absolutely," Vick said. "We've been talking. He's [had] the right mindset for 2 weeks. DeSean just needs to try to think and get himself together. I'll tell you what, it's going to be a breakout season for him again. He's going to be a phenomenal player in this league, as he's always been."
Asked if he was worried about Jackson being unhappy, Vick said, "Not at all."
It remains the question that only time can answer, of course. But so far, on a scale of zero to T.O, DeSean Jackson has barely nudged the needle.