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Piling on Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins

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I’ve had enough of the piling on Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins. Enough. ENOUGH! This is one of the worst parts of the draft-where the lives of young people barely old enough to drink are dissected by the media and used by NFL team staffs to lower draft values. This year Jenkins has been a fruitful target.

We’ve heard about Jenkins’ children by different mothers, the dismissal from Florida, the bar fight, and the failed drug test. Since we are still pretending that “character” matters with entertainers (whether sports or otherwise) I suppose all of this is fair to bring up in someone’s mind. But watching people’s react to Jenkins’ decision to fire CAA football and Ben Dogra as his agent and sign with Malik Shareef of Dimensional Sports, Inc. reveals how even the most innocuous or well-intentioned actions can become black marks in the media’s eyes.

The minute the news hit the streets I saw lots of reporters and bloggers complaining that this was a bad time for Jenkins to fire his agent because it was so close to the draft. I agree…a few weeks before the draft isn’t the best time to retain new representation as letters to teams are already in process and the agent has already (presumably) invested money and provided draft prep along the way. And no one would argue that Dogra isn’t one of the best. Where I differ with folks is that this has to be yet another sign of Jenkins’ character issues. I think that is unfair.

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Perfect example, this SI article:

But off the field, problems mounted for Jenkins. He was arrested after a bar fight in Gainesville in 2009. On April 26, 2011, a year to the day before this year’s draft, he was booted from the Gators team after two marijuana possession arrests within three months. He also has fathered four children with three different mothers. There have been questions about his attitude.

Jenkins says he stayed clean during his senior season after transferring to Division II North Alabama, saying “I’m done with that” in reference to his past drug use. He and his supporters have tried to rebuild his image, and he has been forthcoming with NFL GMs, coaches and scouts — and the media — by admitting his mistakes. He had a very good showing at the Senior Bowl and Combine.

And then another red flag suddenly arose earlier this month, when he mysteriously parted ways with his highly regarded agent, Ben Dogra of CAA. Depending on who you believe, either Dogra dumped him or Jenkins fired Dogra. Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on Jenkins.

That last paragraph is problematic. As far as I’ve seen there are not “two” stories here nor was the parting mysterious. Not as far as the public knows anyway.  Jenkins via his mentor as has said that Jenkins let Dogra go. Dogra, as far as I can see, has not disputed this fact.  I think it’s sloppy to imply otherwise. Further, Jenkins’ mentor did not give some shoddy reason for Jenkins’ changing his mind about who to settle with. In fact, he gave a very good one:

“Janoris is getting bashed because he moved on,” Cornelio said Saturday in a phone conversation. “Because of his background, yes, (I understand). But that doesn’t mean anything here. They didn’t want to fire Janoris. They didn’t fire Janoris. We told them we were moving on.”

Recently, Jenkins hired agent Malik Sharif of Dimensional Sports, Inc., the same agent who now represents New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz . Cornelio said the decision wasn’t complicated.

“The only reason we decided to move on is because they’re too big,” said Cornelio, who is called “C” by his friends. “We weren’t getting personal attention, so we decided to move on. That was it. And we told them. We called them professionally and said, ‘Hey, we’re moving on. We came to the conclusion that we honestly believe a smaller agency that pays us more attention will be better for us.’ (Dogra) told us that he understood and he would help in any way he could. At the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that the kid drafts himself by his performance.”

Dogra said he merely wants Jenkins to be successful.

“We wish Janoris well,” Dogra said. “It’s for the best interests that we go in different directions. We wish him well, and we think he’ll have an excellent NFL career.”

The report about Dogra firing Jenkins was in a tweet by an Orlando Sentinel writer. If there’s more on why folks believe Dogra fired Jenkins I’d love to see it. Please email me: [email protected] if you have more reports on that or a statement from Dogra. Side note: the reporter’s editorializing and calling Jenkins’ “shady” was just uncalled for. And that’s the kind of thing that drives me over the wall!

If a guy does have “red flags” (JESUS I HATE THAT TERM TAKE THE WHEEL LORD! Amen!), a smaller agent who can monitor and guide him personally might be the best choice. The only shame here is that Jenkins didn’t figure it out in time to have steady representation from January to April. But it’s not the end of the world. Eagles RB Lesean McCoy once hired and fired Drew Rosenhaus in the span of a few days. Things happen.

I also have a suspicion that if Jenkins had fired Shareef and hired Dogra the media would be applauding him. Dogra is a popular agent and well-accepted by the media. I believe that plays a role here.

I can’t speak to whether or not Jenkins will turn out to be a great corner or whether he will stay out of legal trouble. But I do know that mistakes in your past shouldn’t be an automatic pock mark on everything you do in the future that isn’t ideal. And I do know Jenkins has four little reasons to work harder than anyone else (the bright side of a spotted history if you’re looking for one). And I do know that there are red flags all over the NFL scoring touch downs and covering wide receivers. I’m just saying…in case this feels like deja vu.


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