Eagles

How DeSean Jackson learned to take care of his body, harness his speed

How DeSean Jackson learned to take care of his body, harness his speed

Cheetahs don’t need to stretch. 

That was something DeSean Jackson used to say. When he remembered and delivered that line on Thursday morning at his introductory press conference, it received plenty of laughs. But that’s the way he used to look at it.

Key words: used to. 

“I could just wake up out my bed and go run,” Jackson said. 

Thursday was not the first time Jackson’s longtime trainer, Gary Cablayan, heard about cheetahs. 

“When you get older, I told him, you just have to be smarter with training,” Cablayan said to NBC Sports Philadelphia over the phone Thursday afternoon. “It’s just a balance of knowing his body and that’s why he’s been good for so long, because he stayed with the same group. We know his body inside and out. We know how much he can handle, how much he can’t.” 

But back when he was in his early 20s, Jackson considered himself a cheetah. He was a naturally-gifted, world-class athlete with world-class speed. He didn’t need to take care of his body. 

These days, he’s still lightning-fast, but Jackson is 32 as he enters his second stint with the Eagles. You gotta stretch to stretch the field. He’s learned that. Cablayan and others have helped. 

Cablayan, who has known Jackson from the age of 8 and has trained him for decades, has watched DeSean learn about how to take care of his body over the years. The track/speed coach based in California, who has trained Olympic athletes, is a part of a group of people that has been helping Jackson hone his craft and his speed since Pop Warner. On Thursday, Jackson credited that group, calling Cablayan one of the best track coaches in the world. 

The realization 

The moment that really led to Jackson’s newfound understanding of preserving his body, Cablayan thinks, was when Jackson strained his hamstring in the 2015 season opener as a member of the Redskins. Jackson missed the next six games, including a home game against the Eagles. 

Cablayan flew out to help work on his hamstring and get him back on the field, but Jackson didn’t play again until Nov. 8, after the Redskins’ bye week. 

“God has a way of slapping you back to reality,” Cablayan said. “He just realized, ‘Man, that could have been the end of my career.’”

Now, Jackson does the little things. If he needs some extra time in the hot tub, he stays in the hot tub a little longer. If he needs to get to work early one day, he gets to work early that day. If he needs to stretch, he stretches. He parties less. It’s all a part of his overall maturation process. Jackson isn’t coming back to Philadelphia as the same guy who left five years ago. 

What Jackson has been doing recently has been working. Even on the wrong side of 30, he still has his speed. He led the NFL in yards per catch (18.9) in 2018. It was the fourth time in his career he’s done it. And it happened eight years after his first. 


(Photo courtesy of Gary Cablayan)

The swagger

Jackson had to learn how to take care of his body. He didn’t have to learn how to be confident. The man who showed up to his press conference in shades and dripping in ice has always had that bravado. 

One story in particular stuck out to Cablayan. DeSean was about 15 or 16 when Cablayan’s father, Jerry Cablayan, was training a Puerto Rican sprinter named Jorge Richardson. Richardson actually competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Cablayan thinks Jackson had never really used starting blocks before, but that didn’t stop him from challenging a world-class sprinter. 

It was just a little 10-yard race to judge reaction time out of the blocks. 

“The funny thing was,” Cablayan said, “he actually did beat him.”

There’s no question that Jackson still has that same swagger — probably more — today. 

 
(Photo courtesy of Gary Cablayan)

Can he keep it up? 

This is the big question. Jackson is still fast, but how long will that speed last? 

And how long does he want to keep playing? 

“I don’t know, man,” Jackson said. “I wish I could tell you. Going on my 12th year and I’m 32, but I still feel like I’m running and playing like a 26-year-old. As long as I’m able to stay healthy, and not take any serious hits or serious injuries, I’m going to be here. I want to end my career here. I’m happy I was able to come back here and finish off where I started.”

The good news is that Jackson is still fast and he still works with the folks he’s worked with his whole life, including Cablayan, who is the CEO/director of performance at Evo Sports Training in Southern California. Guys like Cablayan and Darrick Davis have been around Jackson his entire life and have helped get the most out of him. Jackson heads back to California each offseason to train with them. 

This version of DeSean Jackson is committed to taking care of his body. He wants to extend his career. 

Even if that means making a cheetah stretch. 

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Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce was the best center in the NFL over the last decade and no fraud all-decade team is going to change that.

The NFL on Monday announced its team of the decade, and it was good to see LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters named. All are deserving.

But the absence of Kelce is egregious. 

Not surprisingly, the same people who haven’t figured out that Eric Allen was one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game — the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters — are the same people who have decided that Kelce wasn’t one of the two best centers in the NFL from 2010 through 2019.

Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey were the centers named to the team of the decade, and guess what.

Kelce has made first-team all-pro more than both of them combined.

Kelce three times, Pouncey twice, Mack zip.

Pouncey deserves one of the two slots. He’s made eight Pro Bowls with the Steelers and played on six playoff teams and a Super Bowl loser. Hell of a career.

Mack? Ask any defensive tackle in the NFL if he’d rather face Kelce or Alex Mack. 

Mack’s been a really good player, and he does have more Pro Bowls than Kelce. But he was a 1st-round pick, and those guys tend to make Pro Bowls much earlier than 6th-round picks like Kelce. 

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, and he was absurdly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2017 and 2018, when he was the best center in football, made first-team all-pro both times and didn’t get picked to the Pro Bowl team.

Kelce is the only active player in the NFL that’s had two all-pro seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and one of only six in history.

It’s tough making up ground when you’re a 6th-round pick. You come into the league with no hype, and unless you see the guy play every Sunday you can’t imagine he’s really that good.

The rest of the country finally realized in 2017 what we already knew. Kelce guy is a beast. It took way too long. And judging by this NFL all-decade team people still haven’t figured out how good he is.

Kelce has added a dimension of athleticism to the center position that may be unprecedented. What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in determination, intelligence and leverage. 

Kelce is one of six centers in NFL history to make first-team all-pro three straight years, the only one to do it in the last 20 years. All the others are Hall of Famers.

He’s also one of only seven centers in NFL history to be named all-pro three times AND to win a Super Bowl or NFL Championship. He’s the only one to do it in the last 35 years.

Kelce did make the Pro Football Writers Association all-decade team, so at least somebody got it right.

The thing that’s really disturbing is that Kelce is building a Hall of Fame resume, and the people that snubbed him for this honor could very well do the same when he’s in the Hall of Fame conversation. All-decade teams are one of the leading criteria Hall of Fame voters cite when justifying their picks.

All I know is Kelce is one of the smartest, toughest guys I’ve ever seen. He’s played through injuries that would have ended most guys’ seasons and some guys’ careers.

And he’s done it at a consistently high level since beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting job in the summer of 2011.

Kelce probably doesn’t give a darn about all this. He’s never been one to take individual honors seriously. That’s not why he plays the game. 

He plays the game for moments like Feb. 4, 2018, and that’s something that none of the so-called experts can ever take away.

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NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

After a one-year flirtation with pass interference challenges didn't really solve anything, the NFL is expected to end the experiment.

Pass interference replay "almost certainly will not be extended", according to a report Monday from NFL.com's Judy Battista:

This isn't terribly surprising. The rule was put in place largely because Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints complained very loudly after an enormous missed call in the 2018-19 postseason.

That crucial uncalled pass interference, you might recall, was committed by new Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman:

The 2019 regular season allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls, either called or uncalled, but the results were a mixture of underwhelming and frustrating.

Eagles fans probably remember this very obvious Avonte Maddox pass interference that wasn't called, was challenged by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, and then still wasn't called:

That was insane.

"The cumulative effect of the misses, plus the replay spotlight on these misses, has really taken its toll," former NFL ref and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay told the New York Times last November.

The line for what constitutes pass interference was shown - as football watchers already knew - to be an indistinct and ever-moving line, and the ability to challenge the calls just created one more layer of aggrivation.

If the league does indeed remove the rule, it will be a victory. Fans, players, and coaches will still yell about missed pass interference calls - but at least they won't have to do it twice.

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