One-time Paula Deen guest Kris Jenkins defends embattled TV chef

Embattled television personality Paula Deen has taken some pretty big hits this week over claims of her use of racial slurs. But she has a big advocate in former Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins.

Last fall, Jenkins was a guest on Deen’s cooking show on the Food Network, participating in a tailgate-themed cooking segment. Deen, known for her comfort-food cooking, had Jenkins in her home for the segment where the two cooked side-by-side.

In the opening to the show, Deen is shown in an embrace with Jenkins, where she wrapped her arms around him from the back and referred to Jenkins as “a big teddy bear.”

In an exclusive interview with Metro, the former Jets star talked about his appearance on the show with Deen.

“She graced me with the opportunity to be on her show. While I was there, I had an amazing time, and [an] amazing experience. I saw something there that was a little different from what everyone knows of her,” Jenkins told Metro. “This isn’t taking away from the reality that the text messages occurred and things like that. When you lead with your heart, you tend to be able to see people and read theirs as well.”

A 10-year NFL veteran who played in the Pro Bowl four times and was selected as an All-Pro three times, Jenkins spent the first seven years of his career in North Carolina with the Panthers. Coming from Michigan and having played his college football at the metropolitan University of Maryland, his experience in the South was eye-opening. He called his time with the Panthers a “crash course. It was pretty much a re-education.”

As for his time on the show with Deen, Jenkins has nothing but positives to say about a woman who, up until last week, was renowned for being the embodiment of Southern hospitality. But a legal battle involving racial slurs directed at a former employee coupled with reports of her having hosted a party where African-American servers were dressed like slaves have dampened her public appeal.

The Food Network cancelled her show last week and sponsors have fled her brand.

On the show, which aired last October, Jenkins is seen cooking and interacting with Deen. She greets him in her backyard with a hug and then holds onto his hand before leading him into the kitchen for the actual cooking. Deen made fermented cheeseburger sliders as well as a roasted potato and fennel salad. Jenkins made her his hot dog specialty, known as the “option dog.”

“The lady was a sweetheart to me; [her] making a mistake I’m not going to be the one to make a big deal of it,” Jenkins said. “I got to see her heart and for me, I don’t look at the ‘N word’ as a bad word like that in this year — in 2013. The reason is because I think the ‘N word’ is more a test of my inner strength as to how strong am I to even be bothered by the word or not.”

Jenkins currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He has spent the last two years as a personality on SNY in their coverage of the Jets but he will spend time “paying it forward” this year with his family and will not return to the network. He calls himself a family man and is dedicated to raising his children and spending time with them now that his NFL career is over.

He said he was surprised to hear the recent issue surrounding Deen and when asked by Metro, said he never experienced any of the behavior alleged against Deen during his appearance on the show.

“I enjoyed her. Her not being on the show, it’s a drag, but it’s out of my control,” Jenkins said. “Sometimes it strikes me odd that when you give an opinion, everybody wants to condemn for an opinion but if the same shoe was on the other foot, the same people would want to play.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…