There are a few announcer calls that live in my head rent free. Harry Kalas calling the final strike of the 2008 World Series, the ending to the 2005 Wisconsin/Minnesota game “oh he fumbled it...IT’S BLOCKED!”, and The Miracle at The New Meadowlands call from Joe Buck “DeSean Jackson...GETS A BLOCK!” will be rattling around in my brain long after I’ve forgotten all of my loved ones’ birthdays.
Born in Los Angeles, DeSean Jackson was a standout athlete from a young age. He obviously started on the gridiron, but he was also an excellent baseball player and ran a 10.5 100-meter dash in high school. He attended Cal and in his first game as a Golden Bear he scored two touchdowns, including a 49-yard punt return that he took to the house.
Jackson played three seasons in Berkeley and left for the 2008 NFL Draft as the Pac-10’s leader in career punt return touchdowns (six) and punt return touchdowns in a single season (four). He is third in Cal history for receiving yards (2,423) and receiving touchdowns (22) and earned First-team All-American honors twice as a punt returner.
The diminutive Jackson, who stood under 5-foot-10 and weighed under 170 pounds at the NFL Draft Combine, was picked by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round (No. 49 overall) and immediately scored a punt return touchdown in his third preseason game. Due to injuries in the wide receiver room, Jackson ended up starting the season opener as a rookie, hauling in six catches for 106 yards and 97 punt return yards.
Jackson owns a pair of NFL records: career touchdowns of 60+ yards (26) and career touchdowns of 80+ yards (five, tied) and will end his playing career with 641 receptions, 11,263 yards, 58 receiving touchdowns, 1,352 return yards, and four return scores. He ranks third in Eagles history for receiving yards (6,512), sixth in receptions (379), and ninth in receiving touchdowns (35). Jackson was also the first player in NFL history to earn Pro Bowl honors at two positions (kick returner, wide receiver) and he’s the only player in NFL history to have a “walk-off punt return TD” on his career resume.
And now, after 15 years in the NFL with the Eagles, Washington’s football team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Eagles again, Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens, Jackson is hanging ‘em up.
On a brief personal note, Jackson is one of my favorite Eagles of all-time on the field. I still own a white No. 10 Birds jersey with his name on it. However, any career-retrospective would be incomplete without mention of his awful and hurtful antisemitic Instagram posts that he put up in 2020. Jackson did delete the posts and apologized for them too after speaking with a number of prominent Jewish Philadelphians. It appears that he really did the work to educate himself on why what he posted was wrong and I hope he was able to change his mind on this topic.
Jackson will serve as the Honorary Captain of the Game this Sunday before the Eagles take on the San Francisco 49ers in a massive game with playoff seeding implications. “What made DeSean truly stand out during his accomplished 15-year career was his ability to make miraculous plays look routine,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement on Jackson’s retirement.
Here’s hoping the Birds honor him with a few routinely miraculous plays against the Niners.