Adding the Context to Alshon Jeffery’s ‘Dis’ of Chicago
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - In the world of diva receivers, Alshon Jeffery is as understated as they come.
That's not to say the rangy, soft-spoken Eagles star doesn't unleash some eyebrow-raising comments every now and again, however. You usually just have to lean in to hear the South Carolina product.
Whether it's going Joe Namath and guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory, or blasting out "ain't nobody f@#$ing with us" earlier this season, if you get Jeffery at the right time there is a chance you will get the unvarnished opinion and Wednesday seemed like one of those days.
Preparing to return to Chicago with the Eagles for Sunday's wild-card game, Jeffery dropped a bomb on the Windy City.
"I love the City of Philadelphia," Jeffery said before transitioning to his former Midwest home, "Chicago was just where I was for work."
In the large scheme of things that's actually as vanilla as it comes. Maybe Jeffery wanted to trade the specter of absurd gun violence for slightly less absurd gun violence, along with a draconian soda tax and city-wage hit to be named later. Or even more likely, he was just pandering to a fan base that takes things like that too seriously.
In a world where social-media means comments move at the speed of light, however, Jeffery's comments were taken by far too many as an affront in Chicago, not by the Bears of course, who couldn't care less, but by the Twitter mob searching for the next thing to be outraged about.
Jeffery's comments were such a big deal, the NFL Network reached out for clarification and the veteran wideout walked back the "disrespect" of the Second City:
Jeffery, of course, had already added the context earlier but that doesn't generate the headlines so that part of Jeffery's words never got to Ian Rapoport.
“My first two years there, I had a lot of fun there,” Jeffery said of Chicago. “I mean, it definitely was a lot of fun. It is what it is now. I’m here, in Philly, so I’m not dwelling on the past.”
Jeffery, in fact, had his best seasons -- 2013 and 2014 -- with the Bears but moved on from what could fairly be described as a struggling organization at the time. More so, there is really no sentimentality of going back.
“It’s all about the game for me,” Jeffery said. “I’m not around there anymore. I’m here. It’s about me doing what I can do to prepare to win a football game on Sunday.”
And Jeffery comes in playing his best football of the season since Nick Foles has taken over at quarterback and put the 50/50 ball -- Jeffery's strength as a player -- back into the Eagles offense.
“He's in a really good groove right now,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said earlier this week. “I think he is playing with a lot of confidence. That catch for a touchdown the other day (at Washington against cornerback Josh Norman) is as good a catch as you can make with a guy trying to rip the ball out of there. Just shows how strong his hands are.”
Groh has a look history with Jeffery dating back to when the two were in Chicago together and the first-year OC only sees a better version of Jeffery as the calendar turns to 2019.
“I think certainly from just a maturity standpoint, the way he approaches each and every day and each and every practice,” Groh said. “The way he takes care of himself, and certainly from a competitive maturity standpoint. He understands the moment and what it takes and when he has to ramp it up and when he has to make plays to help us win.”
For Jeffery, meanwhile, it's just about winning that next football game, former team or not.
“I’m just going to go out there and play football, man,” Jeffery said. “I’m focused on the game, honestly. If I see some people that I know or some familiar faces, I’ll speak to them, but otherwise, I’m just focused on the football game.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen