Eagles analysis

DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy torch Chip Kelly: ‘Uncomfortable around Black players'

The Eagles legends pulled no punches about their former head coach.


It’s been nearly a decade since the Chip Kelly Era came and went in Philadelphia. It was an experiment that started off very well, but crashed and burned quickly, marred by game plans that doomed their defense, and personnel moves that left fans without answers.

Two of the most head-scratching moves Kelly made during his time as Eagles head coach were dumping DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy in back-to-back offseasons. Jackson was released in 2014, McCoy traded to Buffalo in 2015. Both moves drew outrage from Eagles fans.

The two former Eagles teammates recently started a podcast, called The 25/10 Show – McCoy and Jackson’s jersey numbers while with the Eagles.

You figured it was only a matter of time before the subject of Chip Kelly – and their mutual distaste for his personality and methods – came up. It did on Thursday in an episode entitled "The Truth About Chip Kelly."

DeSean, LeSean discuss personality clashes

Both players said their personalities clashed with Kelly early on his tenure. They bristled at his “there are no starters” mantra at the start of his first mini-camp in 2013. Jackson had been to two Pro Bowls; McCoy was first-team All-Pro in 2011.

They also agreed that Kelly would rarely, if ever, directly address issues with veteran players. Instead, he would delegate any hard messages to his lower assistants, or “runners” as they called them.

“He never really approached me, and was never a disciplinarian,” said Jackson on Kelly. “He would talk to me, and it was like he was scared of me… I respect certain coaches, and when you get my respect, I will run through a brick wall for you… that’s the love that you build with a coach. With Chip Kelly, I never felt that love, because he always was scared of me. How can I respect you if I feel like you’re scared of me? You never voice your opinion with me, you always ran around it.”

"Uncomfortable around Black players"

McCoy presented an opinion he had on Kelly that the coach treated Black players differently from white players.

“I never had a coach who was scared – not even scared – I’ll say uncomfortable around Black players,” McCoy said about Kelly. “Let’s not hide it, right? Most of the players are black. The NFL is dominated by Black players.”

He presented a story about a Black teammate, cornerback Roc Carmichael, who wore his hair long. McCoy said Kelly told Carmichael to “be more presentable.”

McCoy went on to share his experience following an incident where his teammate, wide receiver Riley Cooper, used a racial slur at a Black security guard at a June 2013 concert. Cooper was fined by the team and agreed to undergo sensitivity training. McCoy believed that after Cooper apologized to the team, Kelly kept Cooper away from the NovaCare Complex for several days to avoid any incidents.

“I had a good relationship with Coop,” McCoy said. “Ain’t no way he’s racist… but I wanted to talk to him. Chip made it so nobody could even speak to him, no one could even talk to him. And I’m thinking like, ‘How does that even happen? You say all this and that, and you just say ‘sorry’ and you leave and not ever talk about it? [Kelly] hid that whole thing from us.”

Kelly's controversial roster moves

When Kelly was hired, he was also given full personnel control. Howie Roseman, who had been the general manager of the team for the previous three seasons, was not only defanged by Kelly, he was also sent to a different office, far away from any other football operations personnel.

With all that power to make player moves, virtually unchecked, the first Kelly transaction that began his undoing was the release of Jackson, after a Pro Bowl season where Jackson set career highs in catches (82) and receiving yards (1,332).

Hours before Jackson’s release in the spring of 2014, a report claimed that the Eagles had concerns about his issues off the field, citing possible ties with Los Angeles gangs. Jackson has frequently denied the gang allegations.

“Drew [Rosenhaus, Jackson’s agent] is telling me, ‘They’re releasing you because of this [article],’” Jackson said. “I wasn’t a convicted felon, I’ve never been to jail, I have a clean slate on everything I’ve done. I’m like, ‘Wow, they’re really fin’na release me on this, bro?’ So they end up release me, and they’re antagonizing me, bro. They’re saying I’m a thug, I’m a hoodlum, I’m not a good teammate.”

As for McCoy, after two straight Pro Bowl seasons with Kelly, was traded to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. McCoy thought he was being pranked.

“[McCoy’s agent] Drew Rosenhaus called me. He said ‘Shady, this is not a joke.’ I was in Miami training. That’s the first thing he says to me. He didn’t even say hello! ‘Shady, this is not a joke, the Eagles are trading you to the Buffalo Bills,’" McCoy remembered.

I said, ‘Hey, stop playing, man. What you want, man?’ He said, ‘I’m not playing, Shady. They’re trading you.’ I’m like, ‘They’re trading me?’

McCoy also claimed that Kelly nearly traded defensive end Brandon Graham, but the move was vetoed by owner Jeffrey Lurie.

Kelly also let wide receiver Jeremy Maclin walk following that 2014 season, after Maclin led the team in catches (85) and receiving yards (1,318).

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