DeSean Jackson met Terrell Owens, however briefly, at a promotional appearance in Los Angeles last weekend. Jackson ended up meeting Freddie Mitchell at a workout a few months back, also in L.A.
The former Cal star wants to be that playmaking wideout Philadelphia Eagles fans covet, but he said he does not want to be T.O. -- at least not in the sense of "talking about your teammates" -- and he does not want to be Mitchell, the guy Jackson has heard "talked his way out of the league."
There are pitfalls to be avoided here, concerns to be addressed, as Jackson begins his Eagles career a month after being drafted in the second round, 49th overall. And they don't all have to do with the now-famous Scouting Combine revelation that he is 5 feet, 10 inches and 169 pounds, instead of Cal's 6-foot, 178 listing.
Jackson has an ego, and isn't shy about touting his own abilities. When Cal flopped spectacularly the second half of last season, from 5-0 to 6-6, stalling his bid for the Heisman, he acknowledges he grew frustrated, and talked about wanting the ball.
"The top-notch guys, the guys who really go out there and make big plays, and expect the ball to always be in their hands when the game's on the line, I definitely feel like you have to have, not a chip on your shoulder, but you have to have that within yourself," he said Tuesday, as he began a minicamp for rookies and select veterans.
"You've gotta want the ball. You gotta know when it's a crucial time, you gotta step up for your teammates and for yourself and make big things happen. If you're a coach, you don't want your go-to receiver to not want the ball. ... The best of the best receivers want to be in that position."
Jackson, whose 4.35-second 40 speed and ankle-breaking change of direction skill could make him a return game star right off the bat, has been the focus of attention his entire life, raised in the Los Angeles-area spotlight by an outspoken father and a large family that included four older brothers, everyone reveling in his successes.
"I had to be tough; they wouldn't let me be a punk," DeSean said. "The expectation level was always set high for me."
Older brother Byron, a former member of the Kansas City Chiefs' developmental squad, started filming DeSean's every movement when he was a preteen, and continued through his Cal career. Jackson was California's Mr. Football for Long Beach Poly High, one of the nation's top programs; his last-second decision to turn down USC and become Cal's most celebrated recruit ever was a huge story.
Bill Jackson, DeSean's father, acknowledged back then that he had thought his son was going to stay nearby at USC until he announced otherwise.
"I love my family, but I think I need to get away from them and gain some independence," the receiver said that day.
In fact, the independence thing remains a work in progress.
Reached on the phone Tuesday, Bill Jackson didn't need to be prompted to bring up Cal coach Jeff Tedford's main point of conflict with DeSean, an issue that NFL teams mulled going into the draft.
"His coach at Cal said we were too involved in his life," said Bill Jackson, 63, who is retired from FedEx. Moments earlier, he had concluded a phone conversation with his son in Philadelphia. "This is a real family. This ain't people in the street. ... I don't understand it. I worked hard all my life. ... We're a good family. Me and DeSean's mother, we've been separated for years, but you wouldn't know it. I'm at her house right now.
"I ain't never been in jail. I'm a good citizen, I vote. I saw on TV before the draft, about (running back) Darren McFadden's mother (having been addicted to cocaine). I see things on the Internet about me being a bad parent.
"I ask coach Tedford, 'Why not be involved with your children?' ... I've heard Andy Reid doesn't want me anywhere near his facility.
"I'm like, 'Damn, what did I do?' "
Bill Jackson said Reid shouldn't be concerned, that having fled his native Pittsburgh for Southern California many years ago, he has little inclination to return to Pennsylvania, except for games, and then only "if it's warm."
"My dad, he only wants the best for me," Jackson said. "It's hard for me too, when I'm not catching the ball. ... It's not selfish or anything like that; he wants to see his son doing good."
Bill Jackson wants the right kinds of people around DeSean, as well. He has one type of person in particular in mind.
"DeSean has not had a quarterback since he played Pop Warner football. He didn't have a real quarterback at Long Beach Poly or at Cal," Bill Jackson said.
Then he made an interesting comparison with another bright-lights athlete whose outspoken parent was sometimes an issue during his time in Philadelphia.
"With Donovan McNabb ... I think DeSean will be the next Iverson in Philadelphia," Bill Jackson said.
QUICK HITTERS -- Suspended Cowboys cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones paid $20,000 to a Las Vegas casino Friday to settle a criminal bad check case. Jones paid $20,000 to cover three casino markers he received Sept. 3 at Caesars Palace, said Bernie Zadrowski, chief of the district attorney's bad check unit. Jones also paid $1,675 in fees and penalties. ... Former NFL player Rich Tylski reached a deal to eventually drop child abuse charges against him after he admitted hitting his adopted daughter. Tylski, an offensive guard who retired after the 2004 season, will be in the prosecutors' program for first-time offenders for about a year or until he completes anger and parenting classes, his lawyer said Friday. If Tylski completes the program, the charges will be dropped.