By: Ashley Whitten
DeSean Jackson is a wide receiver in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was born in California and now lives in Moorestown, New Jersey. DeSean grew up in a tough neighborhood in Crenshaw, Los Angeles with his parents and four brothers. He thanks his parents and brothers for keeping him out of trouble, which most of his friends got involved in. DeSean was an athlete in high school, playing football, basketball, and baseball. After high school, Jackson attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he concentrated on football and became a standout wide receiver and punt returner. He won many awards including the prestigious Randy Moss Award. After his junior year, Jackson left college for the National Football League. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008 and has played for them ever since. Standing at 5’10, DeSean Jackson is known for his speed and is most famous for his “Miracle at the New Meadowlands,” in which he returned the football sixty- five yards for a touchdown. There were fourteen seconds left in a tie game against the Giants at their home stadium and DeSean won the game for the Eagles. Jackson is also known for his celebratory behavior. Some think he celebrates too much and is rude to the other team. Off the field, Jackson has been involved in a Campaign for Anti-Bullying and has started the Desean Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer in honor of his father.
Biological Aspect of Personality (Temperament)
DeSean Jackson’s personality can be analyzed through the Biological Aspects of Personality Approach. I will focus on the genetic effects through temperament. The genetic effects are said to be consistent from childhood to adulthood. Although it is hard to study Jackson’s childhood, the following characteristics are consistent over the past eight years or so, from high school to college to the NFL. The four basic aspects of temperament include activity, emotionality, sociability, and impulsivity. Activity is the degree to which a person is passive or active. Being a football player, DeSean Jackson is extremely active. In his games, he is a vigorous player and does not just wait around to make plays. He goes after what he wants and is aggressive in his runs and drives. The famous “Miracle at the New Meadowlands” is just one example of how active DeSean really is. When the ball is thrown, he drops it but then immediately picks it up and passes through many Giants defenders before he gets the touchdown. Another example of his activeness is seen through his seventy- seven yard touchdown punt return in his college career at the University of California. He takes the ball through all of Tennessee’s defenders and uses his speed and agility to get into the end zone. Anyone who watches DeSean knows he is active and one of the fastest wide receivers in the National Football League. Jackson also likes to promote activity. He is the spokesman for a program called Eagles Play 60 that encourages physical fitness and tries to fight against and prevent obesity.
Emotionality, how calm or aroused a person seems to be, is another element of temperament. From watching DeSean’s celebratory ways, it is obvious that he is an aroused person. Some players may not celebrate much when they make a great play, but Jackson is different. He screams, performs dance moves such as “the jerk” and does wild actions when he makes a touchdown. He is aroused after making plays and often takes his arousal to an extreme level. An example of this is when he displayed unsportsmanlike conduct to a Giants player on the sideline after he made a play. Jackson’s high display of emotionality and arousal is apparent every time he plays football.
Sociability is another aspect involved in temperament. This is how social or how aloof a person is. After watching Jackson’s interview with George Lopez, his sociability seems high. He is not shy and answers all of Lopez’s questions in great detail. He talks for most of the time and elaborates on most of the questions. He also smiles a lot and is personable and friendly towards Lopez and the crowd. On the field, Jackson can also be seen as social because he often tries to get the crowd pumped up. He wants fans to be involved in the game and is not afraid to interact with them and get their attention. After he scores touchdowns, he will often jump into the stands, which also shows how outgoing he is. Jackson can also be seen as social because he started the DeSean Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer and volunteers for an Anti- Bullying Campaign. It is hard to start and be involved in big organizations, such as these, without being an outgoing and sociable person.
Impulsivity is the last aspect in temperament. Impulsivity describes the degree of aggressiveness or friendliness in a person. Jackson seems to be in the middle of the continuum because he shows aggressiveness on the field, but seems to be friendly off the field. Jackson has recently been fined ten- thousand dollars for a gesture made during a Giants game. Commentators and spectators often question his unsportsmanlike conduct on the field. Jackson can also be seen as aggressive just because he is a football player. Football players channel their anger and feelings into the game and are rough. Although on the field, Jackson is known for his rude gestures towards other teams, off the field, he is involved in an Anti-Bullying Campaign. For example, a child was bullied and talked about his experience on the television show, The View. He was a die- heart Eagles fan so Jackson rearranged his schedule and surprised this child on the show. Jackson expressed his compassion and respect for him. The boy was moved to tears at Jackson’s words and his presence. This shows that Jackson is friendly and caring and wants to help the community. Jackson also shows his soft side when he talks about his father, Bill. He died two years ago of pancreatic cancer and it took more than a month for Jackson to talk to the press about his father’s death. This shows that Jackson has a kind and gentle side to him as well. Because Jackson’s demeanor on and off the field is inconsistent, he seems to fall in the middle of aggressive and friendly.
Trait and Skill Approach (Murray’s Needs)
Another way to evaluate DeSean Jackson’s personality is through the Trait and Skill Approach. Within this approach, Henry Murray describes four “needs” that a person may have for motivation in their life. These needs include Need for Achievement, Need for Affiliation, Need for Power, and Need for Exhibition. Need for Achievement and Need for Exhibition are the main two needs that DeSean Jackson uses to motivate himself. Need for Achievement means a person wants to accomplish tasks set out by society. Society focuses a lot on sports, especially football in the United States. DeSean Jackson set goals for himself to play college football and then football in the NFL. His need for achievement was met by accomplishing these goals. He also wants to be the fastest runner in the NFL and be recognized for it. This need for achievement has also been met as Jackson said in an interview with George Lopez that he believes himself to be the fastest runner in the NFL.
The Need for Exhibition is when a person needs to be the center of attention or needs to entertain or amuse others. DeSean is very high in his need for exhibition. One example of this can be seen in Aaron Rodgers’ interview with a reporter after the Green Bay Packers defeated the Eagles in a playoff game. Rodgers was speaking with a reporter and DeSean interrupted the interview by running into Aaron. It seemed that DeSean did this because he was not getting any media attention but he wanted or needed it. If Rodgers was not in front of a camera, I do not think that Jackson would have ran into him. Another example of DeSean showing his need for exhibition is seen in his celebratory demeanor after scoring touchdowns. He is known for excessive celebrations and always shows the crowd his dance moves, such as “the Dougie.” Before his touchdowns, if he is on a breakaway and has beaten his opponents, he will sometimes hesitate before getting into the end zone or will dramatically enter the end zone. An example of this is when the Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys and DeSean was about to score a touchdown but hesitated and did a backwards dive into the end zone. Jackson did this because he likes to put on a show, entertain the fans, and make them laugh.
I do not think DeSean Jackson displays a Need for Power, which is when a person desires to be in a position of authority or have control or power over someone or something. However, I think he displays a Need for Affiliation, although it is not as dominant as the two needs previously discussed. The Need for Affiliation is the need to feel that a person belongs to a group or organization. DeSean is motivated by this need because he is part of a football team. By being part of a team, he has teammates, coaches, and fans who will support him and be there for him. Being on a team makes a person feel important and Jackson shows that he feels and knows he is important. He talks highly of himself in interviews and talks about being a part of a team.
After analyzing DeSean Jackson’s personality through the Biological Aspects of Personality and the Trait and Skill Approach, it is easy to see he is a social person who likes attention. He is outgoing in his interviews and involved in the community, which shows his he is social. One can see his Need for Exhibition and his high arousal level by watching video clips of him celebrating after he scores a touchdown or achieves a goal. Through his speed and athleticism, DeSean can be seen as one of the fastest players in the NFL, showing off his temperament of high activity. On the field, Jackson shows his degree of impulsivity is questionable because he is often aggressive towards the opposing team, but is friendly in interviews and when volunteering in organizations. DeSean Jackson has a dynamic personality which differs on and off the football field.

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