Kareem Jackson, Cockfighting and Perception

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"Look at all these people that be at these chicken fights, you would think its a college football game." -- Reemboi25 (Kareem Jackson's Twitter handle)

Early March is the meaty part of the NFL's offseason relaxation calendar for players. The season has been over for a couple months (for most players) and mini camp is still a couple months away (assuming there's no work stoppage).

In other words, if you're an NFL player and you're going to unwind, now is the time.

As you've probably heard by now, Texans soon-to-be second-year cornerback Kareem Jackson has chosen to relax in the Dominican Republic and, among other things, attend cockfights.

We know this because Jackson decided to put pictures of the glorious event up on his Twitter feed (@Reemboi25, if you need him).

I have a general rule of thumb when it comes to my radio show -- if there is a chance for me to legally say the word "cock" on the air and make fun of Kareem Jackson in the same bit, I will take it and beat the joke into the ground. So naturally, Richard Justice (my co-host on Tuesdays) and I had our fun at Kareem Jackson's expense.

We talked about how the cock was probably able to get plenty of separation from Jackson if indeed Jackson was trying to grab him, and if it did get separation, how it was probably wearing a cock-sized Seyi Ajirotutu jersey. Naturally, Bernard Pollard probably came in ten seconds after the whistle and blistered the cock with a late hit.

(For the record, other Texans defensive hypotheticals included Amobi Okoye getting pancaked by the cock, Mario Williams arriving at the cock just a fraction of a second too late, and the cock beating Brian Cushing to the corner and turning upfield.)

Once we had exhausted our repertoire of seventh-grade "cock" jokes, Richard and I dove into the heart of the matter -- how this is just another embarrassing gaffe for a recent Texans first-round draft pick.

If you're keeping score at home, the last three Texans first-round draft picks have either been suspended under the league performance-enhancing drug policy or publicly expressed their amazement at animals mauling each other with sharp objects.

To be clear, the event Jackson was attending is legal in the Dominican Republic, so by the letter of the law in the country he was in, Kareem Jackson was doing nothing wrong. So it begs the question (and did beg the question from a few listeners) -- "What do you have a problem with, Sean -- that Kareem Jackson was tweeting pictures from a cock fight or that he was at the cock fight at all?"

Well, faithful listener, I'm glad you asked.

Let me first eliminate the line of thinking that you are possibly expecting me to espouse and that is equating Kareem Jackson to Michael Vick, or at least putting them in similar categories. Michael Vick was engaging in multiple illegal activities (dog fighting and gambling, to name two) and taking it a thousand steps further by inflicting sadistic, fatal, sociopath-style punishment on the dogs with his own two hands. Kareem Jackson was a spectator at an activity that, while bloody and warped, was legal in the country he was in.

Kareem Jackson is no Michael Vick.

I would put Kareem Jackson in the "Mark Sanchez" category. Sanchez was in the news for about two days earlier this year because of a relationship he was in with a 17-year-old high school student. What Sanchez was doing was legal by the letter of the law, but abnormal by the standards of most of normal-thinking society.

In other words, if you're asking the owners of the Jets if they would prefer Sanchez not date a high school student, I'm guessing they would emphatically scream "YES!" (assuming that Jerry Seinfeld hasn't become part of the Jets' ownership group in the last few weeks). And frankly, because they sign Sanchez's comma-laden paychecks, they have a right to express this opinion, and even strongly encourage Sanchez to follow their wishes.

Like Sanchez won't be going to jail for texting his teenage girlfriend while she's in study hall, Kareem Jackson will not be going to jail for tweeting pictures from a cock fight in the Dominican Republic. But that doesn't mean that the Texans don't have a right to, at a minimum, publicly express their disappointment in Jackson and ask that he clarify and amend his starry-eyed amazement in attending this twisted event.

Certainly, in the court of public opinion, it doesn't help that Jackson spent most of his rookie year cleaning the burn marks off of his uniform. I said on my show today, if he had ten picks during the season, there are some Texan fans who may have built him his own chicken coop in Budweiser Plaza. But this isn't about Jackson's performance on the field; this is about his complete lack of self-awareness off of the field.

It's also about the bigger story -- another Rick Smith draft choice, another Smith-made millionaire bringing embarrassment on a franchise who is as P.R. conscious as any in sports. What does it say about Smith's evaluation process when his four first-round picks consist entirely of two performance enhancer suspensions, a cockfighting enthusiast and Amobi Okoye?

Yeah, Kareem Jackson generated a lot of talk today on the radio, but like Sanchez, this topic will die a quick death. We'll all have moved onto something else by Thursday. Our attention spans are short. Hopefully, Kareem Jackson learned something from this scrutiny.

The big question is "Did Rick Smith?"

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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