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Former New York Jets and Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins defends Paula Deen

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Celebrity chef Paula Deen has been under a lot of heat for using racial slurs, including Food Network's decision to dump her. She does have an unlikely supporter in a former football star who once guest starred on her show.

Kris Jenkins, a former nose tackle who played 10 NFL seasons with Carolina and the New York Jets, was once on Deen's show. In an interview with Metro New York, Jenkins said he was not going to pile on Deen as she deals with the controversy.

“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.”

Jenkins, who cooked some tailgate-themed food with Deen during his appearance on her show, didn't see Deen as a bad person despite her offensive words that she has apologized for.

"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 told Metro. “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.”

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