New Rule Unfair to DeSean Jackson, Camp Holdouts

New Rule Unfair to DeSean Jackson, Camp Holdouts

As you can see, CSN caught up with the Pro Bowl wide receiver and returner at the airport on Sunday night, making some kind of fashion statement as he prepares to join the rest of the squad in Lehigh for his fourth Eagles training camp. Of course, it's little surprise DeSean Jackson finally showed, given that he is being coerced and actually had little choice in the matter.

If Jackson didn't get into camp by August 9, a rule change in the new collective bargaining agreement would prevent him from earning a year of service, which basically means instead of becoming a free agent in 2012, he would continue to have one year remaining on his contract. In short, number ten has much more to lose than $30,000 per day in fines. He could lose an opportunity to receive the very thing he's been fighting for--a new contract.

This is a major departure from old NFL rules. Players previously had until Week 10 of the regular season to report, and while they would lose more than half a season's worth of paychecks, would still accrue that all-important service year. In 2010, both Vincent Jackson of the Chargers and Logan Mankins of the Patriots held out until the bitter end to protest their respective clubs' unwillingness to offer a long term contract.

I think we can all agree that the old rule was more than a little lopsided. A player theoretically could hold out deep into the fall, and be in uniform for fewer than half his team's games, but get credit for having played a full NFL season.

However, the new rule is even more lopsided than the last one, and far more unfair. Jackson could lose the right to gain a service year before the Eagles have ever played so much as a preseason game. That takes the teeth right out of any holdout, especially in this case where the player is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

This may be all well and good to fans, as we have something of a distaste for professional athletes who hold out and ask for more money. As unpleasant as it is though, holding out of training camp is one of the only forms of leverage a football player has during a contract dispute. Now the act is rendered virtually meaningless.

And make no mistake, DeSean Jackson DESERVES a new contract. The diminutive one is scheduled to make little more than $600,000 in base salary. Even with his prorated signing bonus, the total sum of his current deal pays him less than a million dollars in 2011. For a player of his caliber, Jackson is getting flat out ripped off compared to the rest of the league.

We've heard the tired arguments fans trot out there. No, you probably will not earn "only" a million dollars this year, but unless other professionals in your field make millions, that's irrelevant. And yes, Jackson signed a contract, but as a second round pick, he had little room to negotiate the compensation for his rookie deal. Plus, let's not overlook the fact that NFL teams routinely don't honor their end of the pact, so why should a player?

Jackson is the person taking all the risk here. Players need to make as much money as they can when they are in the prime of their career, because before you or they know it, it's over.

Ultimately, I believe the Eagles will reach an agreement with DeSean before this is all said and done, perhaps once they finish a new contract for Michael Vick, but the August 9 deadline to report is still troublesome. What if Jackson sustains a serious injury during a preseason game, or even during practice? Will the front office still sign him to a long term extension?

I doubt it.

Because the risk for injury exists in those meaningless situations, a player should be able to hold out at least until the first week of the regular season. It's a long enough period of time that it's a valid concern for the club, but punctual enough that it meets the most obvious criteria for earning a year of NFL service--that being the athlete was available for a full slate of 16 games.

As for Jackson's situation, he was absolutely right to hold out. He was already underpaid last season, he's in the final year of his contract, and he has more than proven himself a valuable asset on the football field. If I were him, there would be no way I would risk injury until that check was in the mail.

But it's not up to him anymore. The league has taken it out his hands, and all he can hope is the Eagles do the right thing.

Before it's too late.

La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

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USA Today Images

La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.

VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.

VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.

Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win. 

At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests. 

This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits. 

That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.