Originally posted on cover32 - Raiders  |  Last updated 3/28/14
This is just a brief comment on what I currently see happening on the internet, radio and television with regards to DeSean Jackson. Since the Oakland Raiders are a team commonly mentioned as potentially being interested, I feel it falls within the jurisdiction of this site to discuss the situation. From what I have read and seen so far, I would have no problem signing DeSean Jackson to a contract with the Raiders. There is something that people need to understand about those who grow up in areas like Jackson did. I grew up in Oakland but not in the bad areas. I grew up in an upper middle class family that lived in a nicer area of Oakland. Despite that, there is no escaping the fact that I grew up with, went to school with and was very close with many kids from East Oakland. Some of the kids I grew up with and whose houses I spent a lot of time with ended up in gangs. In fact, when I hung out with them in middle school and high school, I often hung out with their older siblings who were already in gangs. Some of these kids wound up spending time in jail for serious and violent crimes. I do not see them regularly but I did run into one recently. We greeted each other with hugs and excitement. Sure, I know he has done some bad things in his life, but guess what, I am no angel myself and I went a completely different route and have a graduate degree. What he has done and the mistakes he has made did not change the fact that he and I were very close once. Close enough to think of each other as family. Ponder that for a moment. A kid who grew up in an upper middle class family and is currently working as a lawyer could be said to have “gang ties” if someone took a picture of me embracing my old friend. Except no one cares because my knowing gang bangers is not news worthy. If you grew up in the hood like Jackson it is inevitable that people you are close with will be in gangs. That is the sad truth of the American ghetto. This is how Jackson grew up and he is one of the lucky few who were able to get away from the dangers of the street. Expecting him to sever all ties with anyone who is related to gangs very well could be asking him to stop talking to everyone he grew up with. So far, the only information to have broken about Jackson that comes even close to insinuating actual gang ties is the fact that he has been seen flashing “gang signs”. First, let me note that I am not familiar with the gang signs relative to southern California but there are a lot. There are also a lot of signs flashed with hands that are not necessarily gang related. I cannot say one way or the other if Jackson was flashing gang signs and my guess is that most people commenting right now have no idea if they were gang signs either, they are just regurgitating the fact that someone else called them gang signs. What I can say is that even if he was, it neither surprises me nor bothers me. Why on Earth wouldn’t the flashing of gang signs bother me? Because again you have to understand the culture. A gang sign flashed by a famous person from that neighborhood is often a sign of representing where he grew up than any affiliation with a gang. In fact, I knew a lot of kids who were not in gangs, but threw gang signs as a way of representing neighborhoods. Oh, and thanks to Dante Stallworth for backing me up on this: Where I’m from in @california, guys show love for the neighborhood where they grew up by throwing signs and have ZERO gang affiliation. — Donte’ Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) March 28, 2014 Was it dumb and a good way to potentially get in trouble? Sure. Is it the smoking gun to prove Jackson has “gang ties”? Definitely not. Plus, go ahead and try to convince me that other members of the NFL haven’t done even stupider things than arranging their fingers in a way similar to gang members. Does DeSean Jackson know and even maintain contact with gang members? Probably. Does that mean he has “gang affiliations” or “gang ties”. No. It means he grew up with people who were not given the same opportunities he had and resorted to gang life. Kinda like me. The way Jackson is being talked about, as though he is a bonafide banger who is akin to Aaron Hernandez, is obscene. Am I saying there is no chance Jackson has gang ties? No. I am simply saying that what I have seen is NOT abnormal for people who grew up around poverty stricken neighborhoods. It’s something I have witnessed first hand as an upper middle class child who went to private school in a gang filled city. If I of all people have had relations with gang members, Jackson has likely had many but all that means is he grew up in a bad area. Perhaps more damming information will come out. but so far, it is nothing more than the media blowing up a story because it sells.   You may also be interested in:On DeSean Jackson, Oakland Raiders and gang tiesReviewing Reggie McKenzie’s plan at running backNFL Draft: Complete first round mock draft
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