At 27-years-old, three-time-pro-bowl wide receiver Desean Jackson should be in the prime of his career. Coming off his best season with the Philadelphia Eagles and in only the second year of a recently signed five-year deal worth $48.5 million he was cut from the team. Some say he butted heads with new coach Chip Kelly, others have speculated that his price tag didn't equal his abilities. But an investigative piece by NJ.com points to something a bit more sinister: Gang ties.
According to the news site, the California native's connection to the Crips, the notorious gang formed in the late 1960’s that boosts an estimated 35,000 members across the country, and friendships with reported Crip members, Theron Shakir and Marques Binns has not gone without notice.
According to NJ.com Shakir and Binns were arrested in connection to a Dec. 29, 2010, shooting of 14-year-old Taburi Watson who flashed a rival gang sign at two men as he rode his bicycle through South Los Angeles.
"DeSean Jackson was not part of the case," Jane Robison, a spokesman for the LA District Attorney's Office, told NJ.com. "He was not a charged defendant. He was not a witness."
Shakir, known as "T-Ron," is a rapper signed to Jackson's Jaccpot Records.
Jackson's instagram account was thoroughly combed by the news site which found several photos of Jackson posing with both men. There are also photos of Jackson flashing what appears to be Crip gang signs in a photo.
This isn't the first time Jackson has been accused of having possible Crip affiliation. During a game against the Washington Redskins, Jackson was reported to have thrown the same gang sign in the face of Deangelo Hall.
"You don't want to see anybody throwing up gang signs like he did in the Redskins game last year," Detective Crosson told NJ.com. "Those were neighborhood Crip gang signs and he flashed them during a game. He may not be affiliated with the gang, but they don't [ordinarily] take kindly to those not in the gang throwing up those gang signs."
Jackson issued a statement to the press addressing both his release from the Eagles and reports like the one from NJ.com about his alleged gang ties.
"…I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field," ESPN reports.
"I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member, and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible."
Since the recent arrest of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who reported gang ties and was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, last summer, NFL teams have become more cautious of the company players keep off the field.