PHILADELPHIA - New England wide receiver Julian Edelman is speaking out in the wake of DeSean Jackson's social media posts that drew accusations of anti-Semitism.
Edelman, who is Jewish, released a video on social media Thursday morning saying he saw Jackson's posts and saw "an opportunity to have a conversation."
"I have seen DeSean play in his career, make outstanding football plays, we've communicated over social media. I have nothing but respect for his game. I know he said some ugly things, but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation," Edelman said.
Jackson issued multiple apologies earlier this week after he initially posted a screenshot of a quote widely attributed to Adolf Hitler, saying in part: “Jews will blackmail America.” In another post, Jackson showed support for Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who is known for anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“My post was definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community,” Jackson said in a video he posted on Instagram on Tuesday. “I post things on my story all the time, and just probably never should have posted anything Hitler did, because Hitler was a bad person, and I know that.”
In a second apology posted on Twitter, promised to "do better" and "fully educate myself and work with local and national organizers to be more informed and make a difference in our community." He added that he would "seek out voices from other communities and listen to their words, thoughts, and beliefs."
Edelman went on to extend an invitation to Jackson to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
"I am proud of my Jewish heritage, and for me, it is not just about religion. It's about community and culture as well," Edelman added. "I am 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."
After that trip, Edelman added that he would welcome a trip with Jackson to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C.
"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," Edelman said in the video.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz, who is also Jewish, released a statement of his own on Instagram Wednesday.
"My hope is we can use this moment to shed light on and bring awareness to the hate and oppression the Jewish Community still faces while standing strong with the Black Lives Matter movement. We can only change if we denounce racism and bias in all its forms. Our platforms as athletes are a powerful tool, and with them comes immense responsibility.
While few Eagles players have commented on the issue, former defensive lineman Chris Long addressed Jackson's comments on his "Green Light Podcast" Wednesday. He called the post a "disaster," adding, " “I mean, quoting Hitler is bad business, but quoting fake Hitler quotes is like a cherry on top.”
“I don’t know if it’d be worse if he quoted a real one or the fake one. Needless to say, it’s wrong," Long added. "It seems like we’re not allowed to say, ‘Hey, that’s not good.’ It’s not good. It’s wrong, and I’m sure I have Jewish listeners. I’m against anti-Semitism, and I didn’t see and I haven’t seen nearly enough people saying, ‘Yeah, man, this was a misstep.'”
The Philadelphia Eagles issued the following statement earlier in the week: “We have spoken with DeSean Jackson about his social media posts. Regardless of his intentions, the messages he shared were offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling. They have no place in our society, and are not condoned or supported in any way by the organization. We are disappointed and we reiterated to DeSean the importance of not only apologizing but also using his platform to take action to promote unity, equality, and respect. We are continuing to evaluate the circumstances and are committed to continuing to have productive and meaningful conversations with DeSean, as well as all of our players and staff, in order to educate, learn, and grow.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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