Julian Edelman to DeSean Jackson: We Need Uncomfortable Conversations

Sam Connon

Julian Edelman, one of the most high-profile active Jewish players in the NFL, responded to DeSean Jackson's anti-Semitic comments in an Instagram video Thursday.

Jackson made multiple controversial social media posts over the long weekend, misattributing a quote to Adolf Hitler that claimed "white Jews" were an enemy to America and holding back Black people Monday.

Edelman said he wanted to take this opportunity to start a conversation with Jackson and others about the shared experiences of Jewish and Black Americans in the United States.

"I’ve been getting hit up by everyone asking about this DeSean Jackson post, and I wanted to take some time before I responded because it’s a complicated issue and I wanted to be thoughtful. I wrote down some of my thinking. I’ve seen DeSean play in his career, make outstanding football plays, we communicated over social media, I’ve got nothing but respect for his game. I know he said some ugly things, but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation. 

“I’m proud of my Jewish heritage, and for me it’s not just about religion – it’s about community and culture as well. I’m unusual, because I didn’t identify as Jewish until later in my life. Whenever I encountered hatred, it never really felt like it was aimed at me. It was only after I was part of this community that I learned how destructive hate is. Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. It’s rooted in ignorance and fear. I remember experiencing a little bit of this hate in 2011 when I was called a k*ke on the football field. There’s no room for anti-Semitism in this world. Even though we’re talking about anti-Semitism, I don’t want to distract from how important the Black Lives Matter movement is and how we need to stay behind it. I think the Black and Jewish communities have a lot of similarities. One unfortunate similarity is that they are both attacked by the ignorant and the hateful. 

“It’s really hard to see the challenges a community can face when you’re not part of it, so what we need to do is we need to listen, we need to learn, we need to act. We need to have those uncomfortable conversations if we’re gonna have real change. So to that end, DeSean, let’s do a deal. How about we go to DC and I take you to the Holocaust Museum and then you take me to the Museum of African American History and Culture. Afterwards, we grab some burgers and we have those uncomfortable conversations. This world needs a little more love, compassion and empathy. Take care."

Edelman, who led the Patriots with 100 receptions and 1,117 receiving yards in 2019, is the first notable active NFL player who has come out directly against Jackson's comments.

Comments (2)
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Max McAuliffe
Max McAuliffe

Edelman is a true leader. A great gesture by a great leader. Glad he is here as a powerful voice in the locker room.


Jules is throwing the lifeline to Jackson who I’m not sure deserves the courtesy. It’s getting a little old when people Tweet offensive material, get rightfully called on it and then give the standard “Anyone who knows me ...” or “This is not who I am” or the classic panic button response, “My account was hacked”. You are what you Tweet and it’s that type of spontaneous, unfiltered medium that gives you a truer picture of what someone really thinks. Then comes the PR handlers crafted response of denial or contrition. Everyone makes mistakes but this is a repeat offensive Tweet performance by Jackson.