DeSean Jackson stole the show.
The 40,000-plus Eagles fans who showed up on Sunday night for the team’s only public practice cheered for Carson Wentz and Darren Sproles and Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Brooks.
They erupted for DeSean.
“Great experience, man, honestly,” Jackson said on Sunday night. “It’s been like five years since I came out that tunnel. The support is always great. It ain’t changed one bit. I’m happy, I’m excited for this year.”
To be exact, it had been 2,038 days (or 5 years and 7 months) since Jackson last came out of the tunnel at the Linc as a member of the Eagles. The nest welcomed him home on Sunday night.
During introductions, Jackson’s name brought back the loudest cheers by far. By far.
And then in the practice, when he leaped up to catch a 50-yard deep ball from Carson Wentz, the place went nuts again. Jackson enjoyed every minute of it. He ran toward the end zone and eventually threw the ball into the stands. Someone went home with a pretty cool souvenir.
Jackson was 27 when the Eagles released him in 2014. He’s 32 now and a lot has changed.
What never changed over the last five years was his affection for the City of Philadelphia and Eagles fans. He desperately wanted to come back and this offseason it finally worked out for him.
During the last five years, Jackson played three games at the Linc — all three coming during his years with Washington. He went over 100 yards receiving in two of them. Jackson is looking forward to getting back on the right side of that rivalry soon.
“I can’t wait. What is is? Sept. 8 is the first game?” Jackson said. “I can’t wait. We got the Washington Redskins coming to town, a former team of mine. I’m just excited. We can’t fast forward any faster. We gotta work. We’re in training camp mode. Every day we’re just getting ourselves better and competing. And I think this team right here is very special and everybody has one common role. We want to go out there and make each other better.”
We’ve heard so much about Jackson’s maturity in the months since he’s been back and it all seems real. He’s not the same kid the Eagles drafted in 2008 and he’s not even the same guy they cut in 2014. This DeSean is laser-focused on winning and knows this team has a great shot. He knows this offense could be special, too.
Wentz and Jackson have been connecting on plenty of deep balls during training camp, so you just knew they were going to do it in front of the crowd on Sunday night. It was what all those people were waiting for.
“It was great,” Jackson said. “A lot of fans came out here for a practice. We had a great turnout. We had a lot of fans out here. It’s Philadelphia, man. It don’t get no better than this.”
It was well worth the wait.
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