In his article about Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins, Greg Bishop of the New York Times gives us a very interesting look at the psychology of a veteran coming back from major injury. Jenkins, coming off a second major knee injury in five years, contemplated retirement over the offseason (sorta).This off-season … (Jenkins) … conducted an experiment. He told himself, “I’m retiring this year,” and he said he repeated that notion until he believed it.
When a sense of calm enveloped him instead of panic, Jenkins knew he wanted to return to the Jets for his 10th N.F.L. season. He would do so on his terms, for his reasons, extending what he called the “twilight of my career” for at least this season.
“This is the first year that retirement really crossed my mind,” said Jenkins, a defensive tackle who turns 31 on Aug. 3. “You hear people talk about the end, but you start feeling those emotions, and it’s a trip, honestly. You have anxiety issues sometimes.”
He continued: “Look, I’ve been playing football since I was 8. I’m getting tired. Like, I’m not tired of it yet, but I’m starting to get tired.”
Jenkins, who has three kids, is glancing at life after football. He says the biggest reason he returned in 2010 was Rex Ryan. Past injury rehabs have been troublesome for Jenkins. He has had trouble maintaining his weight and optimism, ballooning to over 400 pounds and developing drinking problems. But this past offseason, Jenkins took a different path. As Bishop writes:
As Jenkins spoke, he drank diet soda and ate only half of his meal at a Manhattan restaurant, then boxed the leftovers. His friend Tony Washington, a former Panthers teammate, said that was one of several changes he noticed in Jenkins the past few years.
Since signing with the Jets before the 2008 season, Jenkins, who plays at around 360 pounds, has received bonuses before and during each season for making weight. But even this quest took a more public turn recently, when Ryan challenged Jenkins and right tackle Damien Woody to a weight-loss competition that will be decided at training camp.
If Jenkins makes weight there, he will receive a $50,000 bonus. But he would like to win the challenge. To that end, he enlisted the help of Dr. Sanford Siegal, the creator of the Cookie Diet, which Jenkins is now endorsing.
-- Andy Benoit
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