ONE OF THE strangest NFL moves I’ve seen in a long time involved the Philadelphia Eagles releasing DeSean Jackson.

Jackson is one of the top wide receivers in the league and a danger to score every time he touches the ball, including punt returns. But the big question is: Why was he just released? Couldn’t they find a trade at least to get some value back?

Of course Jackson came with a big price tag, more than $10 million a year. But rumors flew that he was associating with gang members as a reason the Eagles cut him loose. After the Aaron Hernandez situation in New England involving alleged gang action, every team is wary.

And the NFL teams do serious background checks on players, including former FBI agents doing the investigating.

“I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang,” Jackson said.

But sometimes what’s not said is important. Why didn’t he add: “And I don’t associate with or hang out with gang members?”

Maybe he did say that, but it wasn’t reported.

Obviously, there is a lot that’s unreported at this time behind the release of Jackson. And just maybe, it’s the Eagles who are wrong in this whole situation.

Time and good reporting on a national level will probably tell us more. But you can bet that any team interested in signing him will be doing some serious background checking.

I hope that the rumors are wrong and that Jackson hooks on with a team and keeps his nose clean. The guy is a human highlight reel and a lot of fun to watch when they put the ball in his hands.

ä I have to tell you, I really like Johnny Manziel. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a great NFL quarterback, but he presents a good image and has a lot of confidence in himself.

I hate to admit it now, but I may have been just a bit brash myself during my college sports career as well.

At the private workout session for Texas A&M Manziel showed up in shoulder pads and helmet and thoroughly impressed the NFL team scouts. How many guys perform in equipment? Pretty much none.

But that has always been one of my big bugaboos about the NFL Combine. They time guys in the 40-yard dash in T-shirts and shorts.

Sure a 5-9, 170-pound wide receiver is fast dressed like that, but how fast is he in full equipment. Since you play football wearing equipment, why aren’t all players tested in everything they do while wearing full gear?

I certainly wouldn’t want the Browns to take a quarterback with their No. 4 pick in the first round, but I wouldn’t be afraid to grab Johnny Football later in the round or with a 2nd-round pick if he’s still available.

The Browns need some spark and he’d give it to them, even if it’s only for a short time and he never develops into a great QB.

 

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