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Yin And Yang Of DeSean Jackson

Jackson has been a full-time handful since his collegiate days at Cal, a mercurial talent on the field who dominated the opposition. He has always been a touchdown waiting to happen and has been as explosive as any player with the football in his hands.

Sometimes, though, we forget that Jackson is still a kid -- he doesn't turn 25 until next Thursday when the Eagles play at Seattle -- and he is prone to acting like a kid at times. He basks in the limelight and he isn't afraid to show off his emotions in times of pure elation.

Jackson has handled his contract situation with maturity this season, saying all the right things to the media. On the other hand, he missed a team meeting the day before the team's game against Arizona and was made inactive for the contact, which the Eagles lost.

Yin and yang. Good and bad.

DeSean Jackson, as complex a package as the Eagles have right now in a lot of ways.

"DeSean gets marked as a bad guy, and I don't think that's fair," said head coach Andy Reid on Monday. "I think he's got a big heart and he's really a kind person. He loves to play the game. He's a young guy that's in the limelight. We're letting him grow. That's what you do.

"There are going to be little blips there. You work through it and you continue to go.
He brings great energy to the football field and to his teammates.

"He teammates like him like you would a little brother. They're protective of him, but yet they're hard on him if things don't go right, and that's a good chemistry to have amongst your football team."

Little blips? We've seen Jackson lose the ball before crossing the goal line because he was hot dogging a would-be touchdown against Dallas. Last year at the Cowboys, Jackson scored a spectacular touchdown and then was penalized for his show-boating celebration of falling into the end zone.

Against the Giants, Jackson taunted the New York sideline after making a 50-yard gain on a reception, nullifying the play. Then he set up a touchdown with a 51-yard punt return that was nearly a replica of his miracle return in the same building and the same spot on the field that beat the Giants.

"There are not a lot of 170-pounders playing in this league at the level he plays at, so you've got to have a little something special," said Reid. "You've got to have a certain attitude, and he has that. He is able to make that work at a Pro Bowl-caliber level. That's a tribute to him and how he goes about his business.

"He plays the game like he's playing in the backyard or out in the street. 'Go cut off of that light post' over there or something.  He just goes out and he has fun and he plays. It doesn't matter. Normally, the brighter the lights are, the more he steps up.

"So, that's a great quality he has now, that's a great quality he's always had since he was in little league football. We welcome that. We welcome that part of it."

Reid may be the perfect coach for Jackson. Certainly, Reid has handled every kind of personality in his 13 seasons here and he understands that everyone is treated equally, yet differently.

Jackson is a challenge in many ways, and he is a delight in many others. He plays and approaches the game with passion. He is a unique talent with a unique story.

Reid was asked after Sunday night's game if he considered Jackson, in a way, as a "headache." Reid countered with a compliment of Jackson's ability to break a game open and set up a score, as he did with the punt return that led to Vince Young's touchdown pass to Steve Smith.

In the big picture, the Eagles must make a decision on Jackson beyond this season. His contract is set to expire after 2011. Can the Eagles resolve a contract story that has been simmering for longer than a year? Are they willing to keep Jackson and of the baggage that comes with his remarkable talents?

There is no doubt that Jackson makes a difference on the field, in many ways. We saw that again on Sunday night.

The ups, the downs and the all arounds of Jackson make him one of the most popular and difficult-to-figure players in the league. Jackson has delivered the good for the Eagles since they made him a second-round draft pick four seasons ago. It was a terrific pick, a home-run selection.

When you have Jackson on your team, you accept the whole, complicated bundle of energy, talent, emotions. Had you seen Jackson bounce off the field, go hug his mom, jump into the arms of his agent and then whoop and holler up the tunnel into the locker room, a young man happy to have helped the Eagles capture a critical win, you would have seen it all with Jackson.

He is a young man who has the world within his grasp, and who has so many unanswered questions ahead of him waiting for the right response.

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