When Bill Parcells speaks...
Undrafted in 1997 out of Troy State, offensive guard Kerry Jenkins began his NFL career on Chicago's practice squad. That, however, did not last for long.
"The Jets called somewhere around Week 3 or 4. They had some guys go down and they needed some help. Long story short, I passed that opportunity up because I wanted to stay with the Bears, stay loyal to the team that gave me a shot," Jenkins said.
"And then Week 13, I'm still on the practice squad, and this time I got a call from Coach Parcells. The first time I believe I talked with Scott Pioli or another of the assistant personnel guys. But when Parcells was on the phone, I was a little bit starstruck to begin with.
"He told me, 'We've got some guys down and need some help. Can you be here tomorrow?' And I remember telling Coach Parcells, I need some time to think about it. And he was like, 'No, no, no. I need to know before I hang up the phone. Are you going to be here tomorrow or not?' It took me a second or two, but 'Yes, sir. I'll be there.'
"Coach Parcells said, 'We're going to throw you into the fire and you're either going to survive or you're going to go home.'"
Jenkins survived. Becoming a full-time starter in 1999 under Parcells, he remained there the following season under a new head coach, Al Groh. And the season after that under yet another new head coach, Herm Edwards. Three coaches in three years.
"It wasn't really that big of an issue because the majority of the system stayed the same," Jenkins said. "The toughest part about it was that it seemed like Al Groh had a slightly different philosophy. Parcells was all about trying to be efficient as possible. Working us when we needed to be worked and then backing off when he sensed that the team was getting a little beat up.
"Groh had this philosophy that he used to talk to us about all the time – I just remember the term battle-hardened. We heard the term throughout the entire season, how we're going to be battled-hardened and the games are going to be the easiest day of the week for us. So, that was the challenging part because a lot of us didn't have a whole lot of gas left at the end of the season."
With the Jets for five seasons, 1997-01, Jenkins' final year wasn't the best record-wise, but it was the most memorable because of the tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001. Particularly at the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
"That was Herm Edwards' year and that was the most fun I ever had playing football my entire life. I'm talking little league, high school, college, pro. But the weird thing is 9/11 was in there. It was, of course, the most tragic thing I've ever witnessed," Jenkins said.
"I remember a team meeting. I won't go into the details about who stood up and spoke, but I will say that we made the decision as a team. The owners were going to have a meeting and vote whether to have the games (during the week after the attacks). But we voted that we were not going to play. Period. It was a really galvanizing moment for our team."
Concluding his career playing the 2002 and 2003 seasons with Tampa Bay, Jenkins helped the Buccaneers win Super Bowl XXXVII.
"I was with two other organizations besides the Jets, and the Jets, I have to say was my favorite experience," Jenkins said. "From the top down, it was just completely first class. The group of people that they had there, not only in the locker room, but the support staff, the equipment guys, the trainers, people in the front office, it truly was like a family."
Jenkins and his wife, Kate, now make their home in Alabama. They own and operate two businesses: Kiva Hot Yoga in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham; and an Iron Tribe Fitness franchise in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The latter as a result of experiencing firsthand, what it had to offer, as well as the results.
"Throughout the years, I'd continue to try to stay physically fit. I had gym memberships, and I would have personal trainers from time to time, and nothing ever seemed to stick," Jenkins said.
"Just before we opened up the yoga studio, the first Iron Tribe Fitness location opened up. It was very popular and a huge hit in the Birmingham area. So, we reached out to the owner and kind of developed a working relationship with him and he gave us some business advice.
"My wife became a member and talked me into giving it a shot. And number one, man, it was intense training, but it was fun. And then number two, the results came right away. When I started, I was exactly 349 pounds. And within a year, I had dropped over 100 pounds.
"After I stopped playing ball and until I started training at Iron Tribe, I just continued to eat like I did when I was an offensive lineman. That wasn't working for real world results. They taught me about nutrition and that's where the weight loss came from."
Jenkins is hands-on. Besides being a franchise owner, he is also a coach.
"That's my favorite part, working with people and helping them along their fitness journey. Taking them from one place to their ultimate goal," Jenkins said. "And then developing the coaches who work for us. To have them have that success and have that satisfaction of being able to help people get from point A to point B."
And while Jenkins and his wife are successful entrepreneurs, with two businesses in two states, they also take the time to give back. Kate Jenkins founded a nonprofit six years ago called Native Strength Revolution.
"My wife is Native American, she's Pueblo," Jenkins said. "The point of the organization is to provide leadership skills to the Indigenous people of America and Canada, too. Native Americans and First Nations people of Canada are becoming certified in yoga and a variety of leadership skills, and they're going back to their communities to make an impact."