In meetings with NFL executives leading up to this week’s draft, ex-Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been asked about getting in a bar fight, being kicked out of Florida and recurring troubles with marijuana.
He was fine with that. But here is the question that seemed out of place to him: Why does a 23-year-old have four children by three different women?
“It’s weird because I had those kids while I was playing college football and it didn’t affect me not once,” said Jenkins, who is from Pahokee. “I’m proud to have my four kids. If they want to throw that in my face, so be it.
“Everybody has kids. Where in the book do it say you can’t have kids? It doesn’t say that in the law. I’m a great father. I’m there whenever they need me.”
As the article notes, it’s a reasonable response, but the thing is, if you’re a middle-aged, middle class dude who doesn’t share Jenkins’ background, it’s a reasonable question. Basically what you’ve got are two sides who believe they’re not doing anything unusual here but can’t comprehend the other party’s perspective.
Call it a generation gap, or call it a culture gap, if you prefer. But when each side sees the other as a bit alien, that has to have a frustrating impact on communication and motivation. That can’t be easy for a fifty-something head coach trying to get 100 kids rowing in the same direction. You begin to see the value in having younger assistants with varied backgrounds who can help bridge that gap – starting on the recruiting trail.
The trick is in having the wisdom to judge correctly which gaps can be bridged.