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Plenty of current and former CFL players who have gotten in trouble with the law in all sorts of unusual ways, from Yonus Davis' ecstasy-smuggling charges to Adam Braidwood's kidnapping charges to the upcoming trial of Taj Smithfor aggravated assault. Former Toronto Argonauts' defensive back Janzen Jackson's case may be one of the weirdest yet, though. Jackson, who was released by the Argos last August 18, has apparently been in jail in Los Angeles County since September, and last month he was officially charged with the murder of his mother's boyfriend. The Los Angeles Register covered one of his hearings last month, and the story got wide attention this week thanks to Tennessee-based outletsfinding out about it. From the Register:
He moved to the Canadian Football League, signed with the Toronto Argonauts in February 2013, played five games and was released Aug. 18 for “football reasons,” a team spokesman said.
Jackson came to California and spent several weeks bouncing between his great-uncle’s house in Los Angeles and the apartment his mother and Herrera shared in Santa Monica.
Jackson had been talking to himself and acting strangely, his mother testified, leading her to call county mental health workers in August to evaluate him.
On Sept. 11, Herrera was supposed to drive Jackson to his great-uncle’s house in the afternoon, Tesra Jackson testified. She saw Herrera in the morning before she left for the day. She said she never saw him alive again.
Tesra Jackson said she tried unsuccessfully to reach Herrera that night but discovered his phone was turned off. Then, on Sept. 14, she went over to her uncle’s house and saw Herrera’s car parked nearby, she testified.
Inside the car she could see flies and noticed a distinct smell. Police discovered Herrera’s body underneath a blanket, the cord from a lamp wrapped around his neck.
Investigators say video surveillance from Jackson and Herrera’s building shows a man exit an elevator on the afternoon of the Sept. 11 dragging a large bundle.
Janzen Jackson told police he was the person in the footage, but that the bag was part of a workout routine, Los Angeles police Detective David Torres testified at the preliminary hearing earlier this spring.
This is just the latest bizarre twist in Jackson's story. He was an incredibly highly-recruited safety out of Lake Charles, Louisiana, rated by Rivals as a five-star prospect and the second-best at his position nationally, and he was seen as one of Lane Kiffin's most prized recruits at Tennessee. Jackson (along with two other players) was arrested on charges of armed robbery during his freshman year in 2009, though, and while charges were eventually dropped, the incident still cast a pall over his college career. Of course, Kiffin infamously left Tennessee after one year to take the USC job, and while Jackson started all 13 games under new head coach Derek Dooley in 2010, Dooley dismissed him for "disciplinary reasons" before the 2011 season.
Jackson finished his college career at McNeese State, then had a brief NFL stint with the New York Giants, and then came to the Argos. He played very well there, gaining a reputation for hard (if sometimes questionable) hits, and blocking a punt in his first game, leading to the team featuring him in a film breakdown video:
Jackson's exit from Toronto seemed weird as well. He was a rising star on the field, but was axed after just five games. The team cited "football reasons" when later asked about it, but Jackson was listed as a starter the day before his release, suggesting something else may have been going on. Who knows if we'll ever find out exactly what happened there, but the Argonauts are likely happy they cut ties with him before this latest bizarre situation. It's a shame to see things go this way for Jackson, who was such a promising player at one point.