Bus Stops: Eagles' Jackson shames team, NFL with his me-first move
Someone on the Eagles need to call out DeSean Jackson ... again
This NFL rule needs fixed before it affects the outcome of a game
More thoughts on autographs, Week 15 predictions and Snuggies
Throughout the 2010 NFL season, SI.com's Nick Zaccardi will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the latest happenings in the league. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career and is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011.
DeSean Jackson put up 210 yards and scored, but I'm still disappointed in him. When you see antics like Sunday night's backwards touchdown dive, it makes Jackson look like a me-first player. Jackson said after the game that it will never happen again, and I really hope that's true because he's building a history of knucklehead moves. He needs to understand that his actions can result in negative consequences for not only him, but also his team and the perception of the league. I'm not just talking about penalty yards here.
An athlete of his caliber, on a winning team, in a major market playing in nationally televised games represents the direction of where the NFL is going. Hot dogging gives all players a black eye. The perception of superstars percolates throughout the league, and fans can start looking at them in a different light. We've seen it before with Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and others.
It's also not the first time Jackson has come under fire this year. If you remember, Andy Reid reportedly called him out in front of the entire team a couple weeks ago for a lack of mental toughness. I think Jackson has responded well to that incident, as it looked like he played through an ankle injury against the Cowboys. But this is different, and he needs to be called out again (if he hasn't been already).
His antics can lead to retaliation from opponents, which can escalate into more trouble. If I'm his teammate, I'm not happy. If that ever happened on one of my teams, we would pull the player aside and make it clear that can't ever happen again. And if it does, you have to deal with every one of your teammates.
One problematic NFL rule needs to be fixed before it decides the outcome of a game. It almost did Sunday in Jacksonville. With the Jaguars up 31-24 in the fourth quarter, Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell was in the grasp of one Jaguars defender while another came in to finish the play. When William Middleton sacked Campbell, the ball came out and Terrance Knighton returned it for a 16-yard touchdown and a two-score lead. But the touchdown was whistled off because Middleton was penalized for striking Campbell's helmet. The problem here is Middleton wasn't head hunting. He was trying to make a clean hit but wasn't able to account for Campbell's head moving in the last second before contact.
If the Jaguars don't hang on to win, this is a full-blown issue. I fear it will be when it inevitably decides a game. The definition of the rule needs to be softened. If, say, a tackler leads with his shoulder but upon impact his helmet rises and hits the quarterback's helmet, that's accidental and shouldn't be a penalty. The Jaguars-Raiders play was a totally different situation than what this rule was established for -- players leading with their helmets or intentionally hitting a quarterback in the head.
Sal Alosi's trip reminds me of one of Bill Cowher's coaching highlights. In 1997, the Jaguars blocked our game-winning field goal attempt, and Chris Hudson returned the ball for a game-clinching touchdown for the Jaguars. Coach Cowher was so angry that he nearly punched Hudson as he streaked by down the sideline. Thankfully, Cowher managed to hold back because obviously a move like Alosi's is extremely disrespectful to the game. In Alosi's case, I expect the league to step in, but it would be nice for the Jets to be aggressive and hand down a punishment themselves. It should be a minimum one-game suspension.
Tashard Choice asking Michael Vick for an autograph is fine by me. I haven't seen many player-to-player autograph requests on the field, but guys often swap jerseys (like in soccer) or other items, usually away from cameras. I once traded shoes with Brian Urlacher after a game. Asking for autographs is prevalent outside of games, either for family members (like in Choice's case) or for a charity or a foundation. I've never had a problem with it.
A few more quick thoughts ...
-- Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was reportedly caught wearing a Snuggie at Sunday's game. Would I ever wear a Snuggie? Yes ... but never in public.
-- Week 15 may signal the end of an era in Indianapolis. That's how pivotal Sunday's Jaguars-Colts game is. If the Colts lose, they can't win the division, and I don't see how they can salvage a playoff berth. The Colts' core is aging, so this is a must-win to prove the franchise can still be called a Super Bowl contender.
-- Another game with major playoff implications is Saints at Ravens. Both teams are looking at wild-card berths right now, so neither can afford to lose and still feel comfortable heading into the final two games. The loser of this game may be facing a No. 6 seed, which means games at the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds in January.
-- Predictions: Peyton Manning finds a way to win at home. The Ravens lose because they can't match Drew Brees.