- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2014

PHILADELPHIA — A walk past the jammed-up traffic on Broad Street outside of Lincoln Financial Field showed the spectrum of feeling about DeSean Jackson in Philadelphia.

One fan had a pristine Philadelphia Eagles jersey on. Pure white with Jackson’s name stitched in green thread across the top.

Not 200 hundred feet away, a green Eagles jersey with Jackson’s name in white across the back had been modified. Red tape formed a circle and a slash, like a warning on a toxic product, over each “10” on the jersey.

Like the week leading to the game, Sunday’s bitter fight between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins became in large part about Jackson. His speed, injury, the fans’ reaction and the still-murky story behind Jackson’s release from the Eagles in the offseason forced him to be the headline.

Though not on the field, Jackson was a priority more than 90 minutes prior to the game. On Friday, the Redskins had not decided if Jackson would play after he sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jackson did not practice much during the week and his participation in Sunday’s game was questionable.

He spent pregame in the locker room gathering his thoughts, preparing to face the team that cut him despite of 82 catches, 1,332 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season. When he finally entered the field, he ran the length of it then dropped to a knee in the end zone he would later visit.

SEE ALSO: Kirk Cousins posts big numbers in Redskins’ loss to Eagles

Jackson’s release from Philadelphia, as much as he tries to put it behind him, remains the main intrigue. He didn’t leave for more money. He didn’t receive a big contract then ease up on the field. He didn’t underperform. He was cast off.

“They knew what they let go,” Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. “They knew he was going to be a problem. He’s going to be a problem twice a year for a long time. I’m pretty sure they knew that.”

Jackson was booed after his first reception. By Philadelphia standards, the force and volume of the discontent equated to a hug and pat on the back.

Though, the boos found inspiration as the game progressed.

Jackson was hit late by safety Malcolm Jenkins after his second catch. That prompted Jackson to spring up and shove Jenkins. Eagles strong safety Nate Allen shoved Jackson. The only penalty was on Allen for unnecessary roughness. That stirred the sporting spirit Philadelphia fans are renowned for.

“Guys are doing anything and everything to try and knock you out the game,” Jackson said. “It was nothing too big.”

Jackson and Allen were reunited in the third quarter. After being used throughout the afternoon on quick outs and intermediate routes, Jackson pulled the Redskins even with an 81-yard viper strike.

Jackson ran a skinny post up the middle of the field. He flew past cornerback Cary Williams, then pulled out of Williams’ attempted tackle. On the way to the end zone, Jackson turned around to high step backward across the goal line. Allen trailed and was taunted for his lack of speed. Once in the end zone, Jackson flapped his arms and capped the party with a kick Michael Jackson would have choreographed.

“I’m just playing the game with a lot of energy and a lot of excitement,” Jackson said. “I’ll never change that.”

That was a punishing reminder of what was lost and gained.

The score was Jackson’s 18th touchdown of 50-plus yards since 2008. That’s the most in the NFL. Earlier in the week, Eagles coach Chip Kelly claimed they wanted larger receivers in place of Jackson. As Jackson streaked down the field, that claim seemed misguided, if not dubious on the whole.

For the Redskins, seeing Jackson blow past two layers of defenders while surrounded by Philadelphia jerseys was, finally, heartening.

“That’s what he did to us for years,” Redskins fullback Darrel Young said.

The return to Philadelphia was over after five catches, 117 receiving yards and an 81-yard touchdown. Jackson’s day was complete. The Eagles had won, as had Jackson on a personal level. The storyline that won’t quit had another element. Jackson tried to elude it afterward.

“It’s a new time, a new era,” Jackson said. “I don’t see them worrying about me and I don’t worry about them.”

This entire week suggested otherwise.

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