The Philadelphia Eagles start OTAs on May 22 and there will be a lot of storylines heading into that first practice with this team. From the new players to the situation with LeSean McCoy, there is a lot of intrigue with this team. However, the one player that doesn't figure to be involved in any storylines this offseason is wide receiver DeSean Jackson. With a new contract in hand, everything seems to be harmonious with the playmaker. As an Eagles fan, I am impressed with Jackson's new attitude. I hope that it translates to success on and off the field.
Ever since the 2010 season, the talk surrounding Jackson has been more about his future with the Eagles than anything he did on the field. When the Eagles didn't give him a contract extension last year, it turned into an ongoing issue throughout the lockout and offseason. It was an even bigger issue during the regular season, and that was reflected in Jackson's play on the field. He had his worst season with the team, and fans were wondering if he would be back in 2012.
As it turns out, the Eagles didn't waste a lot of time before they gave him a new contract. Now that money is no longer an issue, Jackson is singing the right tune. In a recent media appearance, Jackson said that he feels like all of the stress has been removed. He seems excited about getting back to work and seems ready to take on a bigger leadership role with the team. He advised McCoy to not handle the contract situation the same way he did. It's nice to hear a star athlete admit mistakes. That is the kind of quality that leaders need.
If Jackson is going to be the kind of player that fans want him to be, he has to do two things. First, he needs to put in the work in the offseason. That means that he should attend OTAs and work with the younger players. I think he will have no problem doing either of those things. Second, and more importantly, he has to prove himself on the field. If the contract stress really was the reason for his woeful 2011 season, he won't have any excuses in 2012. Jackson is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He needs to be productive in 2012. If that happens, he will earn the respect of everyone in Philadelphia.
Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Eagles fan.