In jarring NFL news, the Philadelphia Eagles released star wide receiver DeSean Jackson Friday, despite the 27-year-old turning in a career-best 2013 season.
The Eagles decided not to bring him back in 2014 not for financial or football reasons, but because of his alleged ties to gang members in Southern California.
The team's announcement came shortly after NJ.com published a report by Eliot Shorr-Parks and A.J. Perez that outlined the alleged connections of the NFL star.
According to the bombshell article, DeSean Jackson has ties to gang members in Los Angeles who have been connected to at least two homicides since 2010.
Citing unnamed sources, it reported that the Eagles were more concerned with Jackson's off-field relationships and behavior than with his on-field performance.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles were aware of the alleged relationships in the report and opted to release Jackson rather than pursue a trade.
According to Schefter, "it got to the point where the Eagles knew not only about the revelations in that story, but they knew other information as well."
"The Eagles, in their good conscience, could not fathom the idea of trading DeSean Jackson knowing he has some of the issues he does right now."
The team Tweeted, "After careful consideration this offseason, Eagles decide to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today."
That's it. Eagles center Jason Kelce responded to the news:
"We just made an extremely unpopular decision, but I couldn't be more excited and happy with where this organization is going!! #FlyEaglesFly"
Former NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth felt the move was indicative of the NFL's increased weariness of players' off-field behavior and relationships.
In the wake of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez being charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, teams are reevaluating rosters. He writes:
"It is what it is, dude. I know how much you loved Philly, but on to the next chapter homie! Keep grinding, use it as fuel! @DeseanJackson10"
"But… the situation surrounding Aaron Hernandez has changed things. If teams THINK you're affiliated, then you're already guilty."
UPDATE: Jackson has responded with his own statement ...
"First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly. I would also like to thank coach Andy Reed for bringing me in. Secondly, 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. 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. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless."