Behind The Mask: Kareem Jackson

The following is part whatever in a series of posts where our top writers for the Battle Red Onion tag along with our favorite players for the Houston Texans to learn about their lives away from the football field.  The content is raw, unedited, leaves us open to lawsuits, and will probably land us all in jail.  But it's a risk worth taking so we can learn more about the men behind the mask.

It has been said that life as an NFL player can be a grueling ordeal; 16 weeks of uninterrupted pain.  Nowhere is this more true than for rookie Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson.  The 20th overall pick struggled as the team's number two corner.  Opposing teams kept picking on him due to his inexperience, the constant ridicule only got worse as the season progressed, and, worst in his mind, was the rookie hazing that continued even after his rookie season had ended.

Since the end of the season, Jackson suffered from a series of nightmares.  It was always the same nightmare for him.  He was always at FedEx Field playing against the Washington Redskins.  He would see the ball snapped, which was impressive in itself, considering Fearless Frank Bush had him playing 20 yards off the line of scrimmage.  Then everybody would move in slow motion except Jackson.  McNabb would sling the ball in his direction.  I'm gonna get my first pick, Jackson thought to himself as he turned to catch it.  That's when he would catch his toe on a single blade of grass and come crashing down to the ground.  The ball would sail over him and into the waiting hands of an 89-year-old Joey Galloway in the end zone.  And every time, Galloway would point at Jackson and laugh until his own hip shattered, forcing him to scream, "Help, I've fallen and can't get up!"

Three weeks ago, Jackson could not sleep after another nightmare; except this time, Galloway wore a little pink tutu pirouetting into the end zone with the ball.  So he went into the living room and turned on the television.  Once the television grudgingly decided to start up, it showed an old "Saturday Night Live" rerun. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States," said Don Pardo in his unmistakable voice. 

"Hey, it's that old guy from 'Community!'  I didn't know he used to be on SNL, man."

Jackson sat and watched Chevy Chase do his classic impersonation of former president Gerald Ford, which consisted mostly of falling down at random intervals through the sketch.  While watching Chase make his third pratfall, the wheels in Jackson's mind began spinning.  This Chevy Chase guy, he used to fall down all the time, he thought to himself, and now I see him on 'Community' and he never ever falls down.  He found a way to stop falling over!  If he can do it, then so can I!

A couple of minutes later, Jackson went online and did a search for "Chevy Chase."  Thousands of results popped up.

"Wow, I didn't know that old dude is a doctor in real life!  That does it.  I'm going to Hollywood."

The next morning, Jackson hopped on the first flight to Los Angeles to begin the search for the man who would cure him of his falling problem.  Then, at long last, nobody in the locker room could ever call him "Flopsy" again.

The flight to California went smoothly, though Jackson was extremely nervous throughout the flight.  He suspected that the pilot was inexperienced.  After hearing via intercom such things as "Boy, I hope whatever just fell off there wasn't important," and "How do I put down the wheels again?" anybody would have shared his suspicions.

As he left LAX, Jackson nearly choked on the infamous Los Angeles smog.  After a year of playing in Houston, Jackson had learned to play in what he called the city's "chunky" air.  But the California city's smog had an almost gravy-like texture to it.  As he coughed and gagged, he saw a banner that read "Eventual home of the Los Angeles Jaguars" while flagging down a cab.

A rickety old, rust-tinged car painted white, blue, and red pulled up in front of Jackson.  He tentatively got in, hoping the door wouldn't fall off when he closed it or require him to get a tetanus shot.

The driver was a big burly man with dark eyes and a beard that would probably eat Bud Adams' wolverine/toupee whole if they were locked in the same room together.

"Where drive?" the driver asked in a thick Russian accent.

Jackson settled into the bench seat in the back of the cab, "Take me to where they film the TV show 'Community.'"

"Film?"

"'Community.'"

"'Commun...ity?'"

"It's a TV show," Jackson held up his hand and pressed invisible buttons as though he were holding a remote control, "television."

"Ah!!!  Television!  Go to television!  'Community!'" The cabbie laughed raucously, it sounded like a sheep being scraped against a giant cheese grater.

"Yes!"  Jackson shook his head.

The cab driver stopped laughing suddenly, pointed, and grumbled, "Seat belt."

Before Jackson could buckle up, the car went screaming down the road.  He felt like he was sinking into the back of the seat.  If the trip lasted any longer, he worried the cabbie would have to open the trunk so he could get out of the car.

The car stopped abruptly in front of a large gated entrance.  Maybe it was fear, maybe he passed out during the ride, or perhaps he had found himself in some kind of strange relativity experiment, but Kareem Jackson felt like the trip had only just started.

"Community.  Television.  35 dollar."

Jackson paid the man and leaped out of the cab, whose driver didn't even wait for him to close the door before he raced off for another fare.

He rushed over to the booth, only stumbling a couple of times, and approached the guard stationed inside.

"Excuse me," Jackson said cordially.

The guard was too busy kissing up to the young starlet departing the studio to notice him.

"Yo!"

The guard turned and saw Jackson standing at his doorway.  He said some parting words and chuckled heartily as the unnamed starlet drove off.

"Can I help you?" the guard said gruffly. 

"My name is Kareem Jackson, I'm a football player and I'm looking for the set of 'Community.'  Can you point me in the right direction?"

The guard arched one of his eyebrows at the cornerback and broke out in a fit of laughter.

"What's so damn funny?"

"'C-Community' is-isn't filmed here!"

"But the cabbie took me to where the TV show was filmed.  He even said 'television community.'"

"Of course he did.  This is Television City...CBS Studios!"

Jackson cupped his hands over his face, embarrassed of his screw-up, and then he fell down.

The guard helped him up off the ground, "Why do you want to go there anyway?"

"Chevy Chase.  He can help me with my falling problem."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah!  I saw him slipping around and falling all over himself on TV, and now I watch him on TV and he hasn't fallen once.  I want to learn his secret."

The guard erupted in laughter again, "Okay, pal, if you say so.  Tell you what, I'll even help you find him.  To be honest," the guard leaned close to Jackson and whispered, "Community's one of my favorite shows, if for no other reason than Allison Brie.  You need to go to Los Angeles City College over on Wilshire.  That's where it's filmed.  It's about 10 miles from here.  Good luck."

Jackson went to hail another cab only to find his wallet was devoid of cash, and he worried about a second run-in with that Russian cabbie.  He waited by the booth, just below the guard's line of sight, to hear where each departing car was going. 

At last, a catering truck left the studio headed toward City College and Jackson hopped into the back of the refrigerated truck.  This shouldn't take long, Jackson thought to himself, I should get there in 10 minutes depending on how traffic is.

Three hours later, Jackson grasped at the lock to free himself from his wintry prison and feel the warm California sun on him again.  He was grateful that he at least could not fall down while he was still frozen over.  At least he dared not do so, lest he break into a thousand pieces like the villain in "Terminator 2." 

Once he could regain feeling in his toes, he searched for Chevy Chase's trailer.  It didn't take long to spot.  Jackson could see the spires of his trailer from clear across campus.  When he got to Chase's trailer, he could not believe the opulence that Chase commanded.  It was bright, almost emerald, green, and it gleamed in the sunlight.  He approached the door and knocked three times on the door.

A strange little man opened the portcullis in the door, "Who's there?"

"I'm Kareem Jackson, a football player for the Houston Texans."

"What do ya want?!"

"I would like to see Chevy Chase.  He's my only hope to fix my problem."

"Nobody gets in to see The Chevy!  Not no way, not no how," the doorman said, slamming the portcullis shut.

"I have money!" Jackson shouted, lying about the current emptiness of his wallet.

The portcullis opened again, with a far friendlier doorman than had first greeted Jackson.

"Well why didn't you say so?  Come in, come in!"

The doors groaned open and Jackson stepped inside.  The deep unsettling nervousness in the pit of his stomach grew stronger with each step.

Going down the hallway, Jackson could hear the faint painful sound of moaning in the background.

"What was that?"

"That was the last guy who was allowed into The Chevy's trailer.  Try not to make the same mistake he did."

"Which was?"

"He asked The Chevy to sign on for a third Caddyshack movie."

Jackson came to a large room with plush red carpeting, a pair of armored guards standing in front of an altar with an enormous green flame rising up.

"Who dares disturb my slumber?!" a deep booming voice said as Chevy Chase's head materialized over the flames.

"A-are you Chevy Chase?"

"I'm Chevy Chase, and you're not.  What do you want with me, mortal?"

"I search for a cure to my falling malady.  I need your help."

"Falling?"

"Yes.  Falling.  I can't stand for more than a couple of minutes at a time."

The flames cut out and Chase's face vanished.  Off to the side, a big green curtain flung open and there stood Chevy Chase.

"So you have Ford's Syndrome, too?"

"Ford's Syndrome?  What's that?"

"The chronic inability to stand upright."

Chase took a couple of steps toward Jackson and almost fell over, until his face was almost half a foot off the ground.  The sides of his legs suddenly inflated to twice their size.  Next thing he knew, Chase was standing upright as if nothing had happened.

"How'd you do that?"

Chase dropped his pants to reveal his secret.  "I have stage five Ford's Syndrome.  Without these full-length counterbalancing pants, I wouldn't be able to stand up, let alone walk."

"That's amazing," Jackson exclaimed, "can you build me a pair of those pants?"

"Build?!  I'm just an actor, I can't build you anything."

"But you're a doctor, aren't you?  It says right here," he pointed to a printout of his internet search, 'Chevy Chase, MD.'  That means you're a doctor, right?"

Chase chuckled softly to himself, "That is Chevy Chase, Maryland.  I am not a doctor.  But I can send you to the doctor who built these."

Jackson's face lit up, "You're serious?"

"I am.  But I warn you, he might be a little...different...since his meltdown."

"Meltdown?"

"Yes, he went insane shortly after building these pants.  Something to do with a mixture of Zima, bleach, and gasoline."

"I'll take the risk."

"Very well.  Have the doorman take you to Sam Kinison Memorial Insane Asylum.  His name is Dr. Aethelbert Humperdinck Scholl, III.  He's the one that the rest of the Scholls don't talk about at family reunions."

After a quick trip through the underground in Chase's personal tunnel driller, Jackson arrived at the asylum.  The sounds of random screaming filled the air, confused and catatonic mental patients were strewn across the grounds.

Jackson walked up to the front desk and asked to see Dr. Scholl.  The orderlies refused at first, claiming he was sleeping and should not be disturbed.  Jackson held up a note from The Chevy and the orderlies were more than compliant.

They led Jackson to Dr. Scholl's cell and he knocked cautiously.

"Who...is...it?" a high-pitched voice asked.

"K-Kareem Jackson.  Chevy Chase sent me over."

The door cracked open and showed an old man with long, wiry gray hair protruding in all directions.  He wore a tattered white lab coat over a bright yellow sun dress and a purple hat.  The glasses he wore had cracked lenses and had been repeatedly taped together.

"I heard you can help me with my Ford's Syndrome."

"Perhaps, perhaps.  It depends."

"Depends on...?"

"How you answer my questions three.  If you can answer them, you can have this top-of-the-line pair of weeblepants.  Do you accept?  If you fail, well..."

Scholl gestured over at the far wall.  Jackson saw a man wearing a bell around his neck and chewing on a patch of grass on the ground.  The man looked quizzically at Jackson, "Moooo?"

"My previous experiment.  I also have a goat awaiting a similar procedure.  If you should fail, you will share this fellow's fate.  Do you still want to go through with it?  Bibble."

Jackson looked at the gleaming material of the weeblepants and stood up straight.  "Challenge accepted."

"If the wet dog sighs in the dry fire, what does the dry dog do?"

"Whistle softly in the pale moonlight," Jackson replied.

"Very good.  Who put the bomp in the bomp-sh-bomp-sh-bomp?"

"Nicola Tesla."

"Excellent!  Last question:  What has four legs, then two legs, then three legs?"

"Hoo, that one's tough.  Um...Travis Johnson?"

"That's right!  The weeblepants are yours!"

Jackson ran over and slid into the futuristic looking pants.  He knew he looked ridiculous, but he didn't care.  He took a couple of steps forward and nearly flopped over like a fish, only to be lifted back up by his weeblepants.  He couldn't contain his glee.

"Ha!  Let's see Amobi call me 'Flopsy' now!"

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