DeSean Jackson can still play the game of football. This fact is obvious, especially after his 68-yard touchdown reception against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5. The Los Angeles native, now playing for his hometown Rams, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft and has suited up for four different NFL teams. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler and was the first player ever selected to the Pro Bowl at two different positions in the same year.
After 14 years in the NFL, Jackson knows his time in the league will eventually come to an end, but in our interview, he talked about some new projects — including an NFT and a podcast — that have him excited about life after football.
Jackson loves talking about fashion and style almost as much as football and in this interview, prior to the first game of the season, Jackson opened up about his style inspirations, his early mistakes when styling his own look, and all of the stuff still hanging in his closet that still hasn’t had a chance to wear.
Fresh off training camp and heading into a new season, we asked DeSean about staying mentally and physically ready to play at least a 16 game season. DeSean explained the unfortunate “rookie wall” that every player experiences, the differences between preparing now versus his first few years in the league, and not taking what could be his final season for granted.
The Manual: When does the excitement of a new season first hit you? On game day or during the preseason?
DeSean Jackson: Honestly, that’s a good question, man. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m going into my 14th season. The offseason goes by so fast. The season ends, you have a little time off to get away from the facility and the game, and then you look at the calendar and it’s July and you think, ‘Damn, I gotta go to training camp at the end of the month.’
Training camp is fun and you get a lot of work done and build camaraderie with teammates, but for a veteran guy like myself, the excitement really doesn’t hit until the preseason ends.
That week is where I really start to get excited and pumped up for the coming season.
TM: Is it harder to get yourself psyched up now in year 14?
DJ: When I was young and just getting into the game, I was just looking for the opportunity to compete. That competitive nature still drives me to the next level. I just want to be great and master everything I do.
I’m always prepping myself to be mentally ready for the long haul of the season. The NFL season is long and physical. You can’t just take care of your body. You have to mentally be prepared, week after week, and doing everything that needs to be done to play at this level.
I’m not taking anything for granted, especially this late in my career. I’m blessed to still be playing.
TM: You’ve been around for 14 years–when you see some of the younger guys, and they’re all emotionally fired up and ready to go at all times–do you ever pull them aside and go, “Hey, it’s a long season. You gotta calm down or you’re gonna crash.”
DJ: I remember my first year, a lot of the veterans warned me about the rookie wall. They were like, ‘Yeah, you’re gonna run into that rookie wall at some point in the season.’ And you know me, I’m like, ‘Nah, I ain’t running into no damn rookie wall. What the hell is a rookie wall?’
And then around week ten of the season, I hit that wall.
In college, you play ten games, maybe a bowl game. In the NFL, it’s ten games and then you still got another six games, almost two more months of playing. That rookie wall is serious but once you realize it’s going to happen you can prepare for it.
You can warn a guy all you want but they still have to experience it on their own. I just say to the younger guys, ‘Save your energy. The farther you get into the season, that’s when you need to peak.’ Starting off hot don’t mean nothing if you finish slow. You kinda want to start off well but finish strong.
DeSean Jackson has always been considered one of the more stylish players in the NFL. His love of fashion started at an early age, growing up in Los Angeles in the 1990s when hip hop slowly started to dominate pop culture and street styles made their way into the malls of middle America. We asked DeSean about his early style influences, how people can develop their own personal style, and when to recognize that a trend has run its course.
TM: When did you get interested in fashion and style and how did you build a signature look for yourself?
DJ: It goes back to my early days growing up in South Central, Los Angeles. Growing up in the street culture of the late 90s. Baggy pants, baggy shirt, looking up to Easy-E, Snoop Dogg, Master P, rocking the big chains and all that stuff kinda. As a young guy coming up, it all fascinated and influenced my style.
Then I got older and suddenly I’m in the NFL now. I gotta start wearing suits. I was never a suit guy. Early on, my suits were huge (laughs) but eventually, I learned to get clothes more fit for my body size while still getting my swag on.
I just feel like my style is tuned into myself. I really don’t bother with what everyone else is wearing. I go for that casual but business look but always try to stay comfortable. I hate wearing clothes where I’m just not comfortable or you see people you know aren’t comfortable and they’re just going for a look. I like to be comfortable and fitted.
TM: Do you think a lot of athletes upped their style game when TV networks regularly started showing teams walking into the stadiums and post-game press conferences?
DJ: Yeah, definitely, but for me, it happened back in college. I remember this moment, I wanna say it was like 2006, I think I was a sophomore. ESPN College Game Day was in Oregon and we won. After the game, they asked me to go to the Game Day set to be interviewed. I just recently saw the clip and my suit was big as hell. I had like a 3X suit on. Freakin’ pants all baggy as hell. I still looked fly but I just looked at the size of the suit and laughed.
TM: Do you think anyone can learn to be stylish or do you think some people are just born with it and other people aren’t as lucky and need help.
DJ: To me, I don’t think you’re born with style, I think it’s all about learning to feel. I mean, some people just don’t have style. Some people try too hard. Some people go out of their way to get attention and wear certain stuff. Those types are just looking for the attention.
I’m not into clothing and accessories just to get people talking about me like, ‘What the hell he got on?’ (Laughs) I want to be fresh so that when somebody looks at me, they go, ‘Oh damn, he put together.’ I just try to stay mild and I don’t do anything too crazy. Certain things events or occasions I might go for a little bit more.
TM: What’s the first piece of clothing or accessory that you bought that made you think to yourself, “Okay, I think I’ve made it.”
DJ: I bought a Tom Ford suit. When I was playing in Philadelphia, I bought a crazy mink fur coat. Back in the day, I was all about having print on my shoes. I liked snake skins or any kinda crazy leather. When I was able to start buying that stuff, that’s when I kinda thought, “Aww yeah, this is a different level.”
I really didn’t start wearing tailored stuff until maybe my third year in the NFL. The first few years, I was still going to malls and buying stuff off the rack. I remember there was a company I worked with that styled all the professional athletes. I had a stylist by the name of Dixie Lovato, and she was like, “No, we gotta get you fit tight. I’m gonna cut this, I’m going to measure this, and it’s gonna be the look.” Once I started working with a stylist, it helped me develop a different look. Then I got in all the top magazines. They broadcast me. So that was dope, bruh.
TM: Are you able to jump on style trends before they start?
DJ: Yeah, I have a lot of people in the industry and send me stuff before it comes out. So I have the first dibs on a lot of that stuff, but for me, I have so much stuff I hardly even wear most of the stuff. Unfortunately, some of the clothes just sit in the closet.
I just seen a Dior jacket that I still haven’t worn. I’ve had it for like two years. I can’t wait to throw this one on, it’s got a crazy print, but I just haven’t had a reason to wear it.
TM: How do you know when a style or a trend is over?
DJ: A lot of the time, the youth see you wearing something, and if they don’t know what it is or it’s out of style, they’re gonna call you out on it. If I’m wearing something, my young homies or my kids will let me know, ‘No, Pops, you don’t gotta put that on.’
The post-game press conference has slowly evolved into a fashion show. In the closing portion of our talk, we asked DeSean to name some of the best and worst-dressed players in the NFL, the ugliest unis in the league, and players making a statement with their clothing choices.
TM: Who are some guys in the NFL that are low key pretty good at styling themselves?
DJ: Malcolm Jenkins. He’s pretty fit. He got his own suit company he come pretty dressed well. I would say, Cam Newton kinda got a little swag to him. You know he wears the hats. He do his thing.
TM: Do you think sometimes he’s clowning people a little bit? Like sometimes they’ll wear things just because they know it’ll get attention.
DJ: Yeah, for sure. Sometimes people do wear things because they know they’ll get a little more attention a little more talked about.
TM: Who are some guys that you’ve played with that are just awful at styling themselves?
DJ: Man, I ain’t gonna grill ‘em like that. (Laughs) I ain’t gonna do that.
TM: What are some NFL uniforms that are just like, “Man, I’m glad I don’t have to put that crap on every week.”
DJ: I think the Cleveland Browns. I think that’s the only one that really stands out to me, I just don’t like their colors.
TM: What are some uniforms where you’re like, “Man, I really like that one”?
DJ: Shit, the Rams, and I’m in it now. That all blue, man–shiiiit.
TM: Is it hard to be an individual and show style when you’re in a league that kinda cracks down on that kind of stuff?
DJ: As far as on the field, yeah. Off the field, you kinda pretty much can do whatever. It’s only really cracking down on the field. They don’t want you to go too much out of the uniform or the color, not wear any shirts with logos and stuff like that. So, as far as like on the field, yes, it’s definitely tough to swag it out and kinda just–you don’t wanna wear no side swag game. They don’t really allow certain things like that.
TM: So you’ve got a new podcast coming out?
DJ: Yeah, man, I got a podcast called Fade the Booth with DeSean Jackson. I actually started last year, you know, during the pandemic. When people weren’t able to go around and interview, I kinda just at home kinda similar to what we’re doing now. Kinda, zoom link. Man, really, it’s just a day in the life. Really just giving my viewers insight onto up-and-coming artists, athletes, celebrities, as is you know just kinda their mental and what are the [adversities] they went through in their lives and just talking the shit, man. Just having fun and motivating the youth and people.
TM: Has there been one guest or anybody so far that you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t think that person was going to be that open.”
DJ: Man, all of them, man. I think from top to bottom, honestly. I’m just excited to share the info. We’re working on a deal–we’re closing in on this partnership. We’re going to be releasing these episodes soon. We have about 14 episodes from Lil Wayne to Marshawn Lynch to Micheal Ruben, Lela Lee, Jock Peterson the list goes on we got some cool guests. I‘m excited to give out some game to everybody that’s interested in watching.
TM: And you have an NFT about to drop too…
DJ: Not too long ago, I partnered up with a company in that space. They actually came to me and kinda brought this opportunity to me where I’ve got these 3D images of each team that I ever played for. It’s like a bronze spinning, silver spinning, gold spinning, you know, person of myself that spins different jersey numbers — so obviously it goes 10 to the Eagles. Then it goes 11 to Washington, then it goes 11 to Tampa Bay, then it goes ten back to the Eagles, and now it goes to the Rams.
The NFT space is definitely intriguing. A lot of people are getting into it. You know, I just looked at it as having something out there where my fans could be connected to me. You know, I have kids, and one day I won’t be playing professional football anymore. My kids will be able to look up and say, “My dad had an NFT dope series of his career and everything he been through.”
So for me, I’m very excited. Intrigued about the NFT space. I think a lot of great things are coming out of it.
I have a lot of great things going on. Looking forward to a great season. The 2021 Los Angeles Rams. We’re going to make some noise this year.
TM: Give guys a few style tips. Things they should definitely do or a way to help their own personal style.
DJ: Man, honestly, just stay true to yourself, man. You know, whatever it is that you believe in and that you feel good about, I would say don’t be afraid to try new things but don’t try to do too much. Try to figure out what works for you and stick to your true destiny of being yourself. I pride myself on being like nobody else. Just stay unique stay true to yourself. Find out what works for you and stick with it.
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