Jenkins focused on getting to the Super Bowl
He can flick a 300-pound man off him like a piece of lint, tossing him easily to the side as if he were a rag doll rather than a large mass of humanity.
Kris Jenkins is a man's man, a 360-pound beast who probably gives defensive coordinators the shakes in the middle of the night, awakening them with the nightmarish reality of trying to devise a game plan to keep the ninth-year nose tackle in check.
Jenkins is a Caterpillar Earth Mover disguised in a helmet, shoulder pads and cleats. He easily blows through defenders, though he knows there's a specific someone who surely will get the best of him.
"I can't beat Father Time," Jenkins said. "That's the one person that I cannot beat. So since I can't, I'm going to go and put all I can out on the field against everybody else so I can get that goal."
That "goal" comes with a trip to the White House, the place Rex Ryan suggested the Jets will be visiting sometime in the near future.
Jenkins has the Pro Bowl accolades, the respect of his peers. But it's not what's pushing the anchor of the Jets' defensive line. His motivation: adding one of those microwave-sized pieces of jewelry to one of his hot dog-like fingers.
"What I'm really looking forward to is that big ring," Jenkins said. "I want one before I leave. So, I'm going to approach every year that much more intense."
A peek at Jenkins' numbers won't get a rise out of anybody; he has a modest seven tackles and zero sacks. However, his brilliance on the field goes beyond statistics, and the only real number anyone needs to know when it comes to Jenkins is this: two.
As in the number of people it takes to keep the powerful Jenkins from blowing up a play.
"There are a lot of big men in this world, but there are very few that are as athletic as he is," Ryan said. "He is a dominant force. When his pads are down, he's unblockable . . . If you've got one man on him, there's not one man on this planet that's going to block Kris Jenkins. There's no way."
Jenkins revealed he seriously contemplated retiring and taking off the shoulder pads for good last January after the Jets wrapped up their disappointing 2008 season. A nagging back injury cropped up again, leading Jenkins to question if his body was telling him it's time to tap out and if he mentally could put himself through another season.
Once the Jets brought Ryan on board, injecting the organization with a dose of energy, Jenkins decided it wasn't time to call it a career yet. "Rex really helped me find my love for the game, my motivation for me doing certain things," Jenkins said.
So Jenkins felt he owed it to Ryan to do everything he could to thank him, spelling bad news for defenders.
"If you are going to let me be a man, I'm going to show you in my own way why I'm appreciative," Jenkins said. "If that means I have to club somebody and move him four yards to the left to show my appreciation, then that's what I'm going to do."
Getting married to his longtime girlfriend Tashia in July, creating a warm family environment for their three children, has put Jenkins at peace with his life, one he said was filled with plenty of distractions in his seven seasons with Carolina. He's in a comfortable place, expanding his horizons by cranking the likes of the Dave Matthews Band in his SUV rather than some of the dark, unflattering hip-hop acts that have taken over the genre he grew up listening to.
"Where I'm from," said Jenkins, a native of the Detroit area, "everybody that was there knows a thug or was a thug. Just growing up in an environment like that, when you know depending on the situation, your life could be on the line, that's not something I'm going to glorify. It's just not."
What he wouldn't mind glorifying, though, is a Super Bowl championship run before the sun sets on his career.
"A Super Bowl to me would really kind of seal the deal with everything," Jenkins said, "and not just for the highs, but also the lows. When you go through certain things in life, you understand the sweet isn't the sweet without the sour. But it would make it just that much sweeter just to be able to have that attached to me, just to be able to say that before I left this game, I was a champion."