Sports

Texans take Westside, Alabama product Kareem Jackson with 20th pick

At 9:32 p.m., Kareem Jackson calmly spoke on the phone as about two dozen friends and family packed the TV room of his home.

A few minutes later, after unsuccessfully waving for quiet, Jackson slipped outside.

At 9:37 p.m., the Houston Texans picked up a new set of fans in Macon, as scores of Jackson’s family and friends erupted throughout Jackson’s Cherokee Heights home when the former Westside and Alabama standout was chosen with the 20th pick Thursday night of the NFL draft.

And for a player who made a college career of being in the right place at the right time, where was Jackson? He was outside talking to a team official.

“It wasn’t too nerve-wracking,” Jackson said. “A sigh of relief. All I can do is get to work now.”

Jackson was projected to anywhere from 17th to early in the second round. As the draft progressed, anticipation in several rooms of the house grew. As each selection was announced, nearly everybody quieted down.

And when they heard from the television, “Houston Texans select ... Kareem Jackson,” it was the Fourth of July on Cherokee Avenue.

When Jackson indicated that his selection was near, his mother and father had to wade through the packed TV room — most everybody had a camera phone aimed at “Coco” — to get next to him on the couch.

It was so loud that Jackson had to go outside to hear the Houston official, but he was acutely aware of when his name was announced by the celebration that had started in his house.

“It is very amazing,” he said of the full house. “I wanted to stay in there and kinda see the TV (announcement).”

Jackson finished talking with the Texans official, then was on a conference call with Houston media.

As calm after getting the news as he was all night, Jackson broke into a smile.

“I can sleep now,” he said. “But there’ll be a little celebrating (Thursday night).”

His day starts early. The Jacksons will leave Macon for Atlanta around 8 a.m. today and will fly to Houston where Jackson will be introduced to the Houston media this afternoon. Then the negotiation process begins.

Jackson has been relaxed about the whole process, although he clearly was happy to get the call, which was a little earlier than most had him projected. Houston wasn’t on the radar.

“I didn’t talk to the Texans, so it kind of shocked me,” Jackson said. “We didn’t hear anything from the Texans. They called me, and it’s a done deal now. I’m just ready to go in and get to work.

Jackson’s mother Rossalyn and father Hezekiah were busy hosting during the evening and were relieved.

“I had been kinda calm all day,” Rossalyn Jackson said. “People kept asking me been asking me all day, ‘Are you nervous?’ ‘No, what am I supposed to be nervous about?’ But when they called his name, that’s when my nerves kinda hit.”

The party moved outside, where it was definitely cooler, but friends of Jackson’s parents soon started cleaning up. There was quite the spread, ranging from jerk chicken to noodles to fish to shrimp. And attendees ranged from too young to walk to the grandparent age.

“My first thought was how blessed we really are,” Hezekiah Jackson said. “Then I thought about the power of prayer. I mean, we have prayed and prayed and prayed, for safe passage, for safe keeping. And when I heard (the announcement), all the praying and all, gives you relief that you’ve done the best that you can do, especially with a 22 year old in this day and time.

“It’s amazing that so many people came from the neighborhood, so many guys that he went to school with, so many of my church members. It truly is a blessing.”

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