Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, one of the NFL’s most recognizable stars, is being widely condemned for posting anti-Semitic quotes he attributed to Hitler on Instagram.
On his Instagram story from Monday, Jackson showed a picture of text detailing a conspiracy theory about a Jewish plot to oppress African Americans. Jackson cited Adolf Hitler as the source of the anti-Semitic text, but it’s more likely to have come from the book “Jerusalem” by Dennine Barnett.
Then in another Instagram post on Monday, Jackson blacked out much of that offensive text and wrote “this,” pointing to only one portion of the screed about a “plan for world domination,” apparently as evidence he’s not anti-Semitic.
Jackson posted an apology video on Instagram on Tuesday and spoke directly into the camera. “I probably should have never posted anything that Hitler did, because Hitler was a bad person and I know that,” Jackson said. “I was just trying to uplift African Americans.”
He continued: “I just want to let you guys know I apologize. I didn’t intend any harm or any hatred toward any people. I’m for one, I’m for love and I extend it every day. People who know me know I have no hatred in my heart. I never try to put another religion down to uplift my religion or my race. From the bottom of my heart I just want you guys to understand that.“
Jackson has in the past professed his admiration for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has long used anti-Semitic and homophobic rhetoric. The Nation of Islam has been deemed an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The 33-year-old Jackson has played 12 seasons in the NFL with Philadelphia, Washington and Tampa Bay. He’s now on his second stint with the Eagles. His 10,420 career receiving yards ranks him fifth among active players. The Eagles on Tuesday said they’ve spoken to Jackson and told him, “Regardless of his intentions, the messages he shared were offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling.”
“We are disappointed and we reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing, but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality, and respect,” according to a team statement.
While the Eagles said they will have “meaningful conversations” with Jackson, the team statement made no mention of any discipline against the standout pass catcher. The NFL also said on Tuesday it found Jackson’s social media postings to be offensive.
“DeSean’s comments were highly inappropriate, offensive and divisive and stand in stark contrast to the NFL’s values of respect, equality and inclusion,” according to a league statement. “We have been in contact with the team which is addressing the matter with DeSean.”
The Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia said it was disappointed by Jackson’s posts and pleaded with him to turn away from Farrakhan: “We urge Mr. Jackson to use his platform as a professional athlete to promote unity and positivity, rather than the divisive words of a bigot.”
Also on Monday, Jackson appeared to question whether African Americans and Native Americans, as communities hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, should be among the first groups to receive vaccines — when or if they’re ever developed.