Monday, March 29, 2010

The Sad Story of Pacman Jones

Adam "Pacman" Jones was born in 1983 in Atlanta. His father was shot and killed when Adam was 4. He was raised by his mother and grandmother, and was one heck of a football player. He was recruited to the Univesity of West Virginia as one of the best high-school cornerbacks in the country, and was also All-American in basketball and track. His mother nicknamed him Pacman when he was a baby because "he drank milk as fast as the little pacman ate those dots," and the nickname followed him through life.

At West Virginia, Jones was Honorable Mention as an All-American defensive back and punt returner following an outstanding junior season. Jones only missed one game in his 3-year college career, and that was to attend the funeral of his grandmother. In 2005 he was the first defensive player drafted, fifth overall by the Tennessee Titans. At the draft, he wore a custom-made t-shirt with his grandma's face on it.

Despite several off-the-field incidents, the Titans were willing to draft Jones so highly because his speed and defensive instincts were uncanny. After a brief contract dispute that held Pacman out of most of training camp, he played a successful rookie season for the Titans, and followed that up with a great sophomore season. In fact, in 2006 he emerged as one of the NFL's best shutdown cornerbacks, intercepting 4 passes, deflecting 14 more, and also adding 62 tackles and a sack. On top of that, he led the NFL in yards per punt return with 12.9. Pacman found the end zone four times in his second NFL season, three times on punts and once on an interception return.

Titans' defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz believed that Pacman Jones could be an essential building block for one of the NFL's best defenses.

But then, as Pacman's extracurricular problems added up and his many malices became known,
he faced suspension from commission Goodell. Titans' General Manager Floyd Reese admitted that Jones was everything they hoped he would be on the football field, but was "nothing but a disaster" off the field. For legal troubles that included marijuana possession, cocaine possession, physical, verbal, and sexual assualt, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, speeding, reckless driving, and spitting on a woman, Pacman Jones was suspended for the entire 2007 season.

During that time, Jones's life and football career unraveled. He joined the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling Foundation; he joined the rap group Posterboyz; and in February 2007, he was involved in an infamous event at a Las Vegas strip club called Minxx.

(FYI: Any place that's spelled with two X's is probably a good place to stay away from.)

At the Vegas club, Jones and some buddies littered the stage with hundreds of dollar bills for "visual effect." The manager of Minxx then ordered the dancers to pick up the bills, and at this point, Jones became enraged and grabbed one of the dancers by the hair and smashed her head onto the stage. A security guard intervened, and Jones reportedly threatened the man's life, while a member of Jones's entourage fired a gun into the crowd, injuring 3 people and paralyzing one man from the waist down. Jones claims he doesn't know the man who shot the gun, but everyone knows he is lying.

Jones was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors for this incident, and to make matters worse, an arrested drug dealer named Daryl Moore linked Pacman to numerous drug deals as well as allegations that he was betting on college football games in which he played.

As of present day, Jones has not been convicted for the Las Vegas crimes, the drug allegations, the cheating allegations. It's amazing how millions of dollars can buy you some pretty good lawyers. Thus far Pacman has stayed out of jail, although he was nearly arrested for assaulting a woman outside of an Atlanta strip club in 2007. Those charges were later dropped.

Jones was reinstated for the 2008 NFL season, and the Titans traded him to the Cowboys for virtually nothing.

He played 9 games for Dallas, recording 31 tackles and no interceptions, and was released by the Cowboys following a dismal 2008 season. He then signed a one-year deal to play in the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but ultimately that fell through, and Jones spent the entire 2009 NFL season off the football field.

Miraculously, he also spent the 2009 year out of legal trouble. No new arrests, no assault accusations or strip club incidents. No new problems. He truly seemed to focus on recovering his football career and his life - either that, or he got better at not getting caught. Either way, Pacman has been steadily trying to reclaim his NFL career and has asked that henceforth he be called Adam, and not Pacman. He's trying to escape from his tumultous past, and that's commendable; unfortunately, when you break the law dozens of times, you can't just apologize and move on. He may be done with his past, but his past is not done with him.

ADAM has worked out for several NFL teams over the past four months, among them Detroit, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and the NY Jets. Recently, Jones was clocked running a 4.42 in the 40 yard dash, and in case you don't know what that means, that's really, really good.

So you may be wondering, loyal readers of this blog, why I have told you this story in all its graphic and terrible detail? Because, as of March 30 2010, it appears extremely likely that Pacman Jones will spend the 2010 NFL season as a member of the Detroit Lions.

The response to these rumors has ranged from joy to outrage, but before forming my opinion, I wanted to learn a little more about the Man they call Pacman. Now that I know a little more about his life, I detest and pity him all at once. He is a disgrace to men and makes me ashamed to call myself one. He is a horrible, monstrous, insiduous man and I hope he spends 10 years in prison. He deserves no sympthany or mercy. But I do have to admit, his tragic and pathetic story does make me feel sorry for him, in a small strange little part of my heart.

But anyway. The important question at hand is this:

What do I think of Adam Jones in the Lions' secondary, for the 2010 season?

The fact is, the Lions don't have a single cornerback on their roster who has NFL caliber skills. They just don't. And by bringing Adam Jones and his immense physical talents and his tremendous legal and emotional baggage on board, they are acquiring a player who would immediately be their best cornerback, and also alleviating the need to draft a cornerback in the second or third round, thus allowing them to spend that pick on either a running back or offensive lineman.

Signing Adam Jones kills a few birds with one stone.

It also gives the Lions an option besides Nate Burlseon at punt returner. Two capable return men is better than one. What if one guy gets hurt? You want Dennis Northcutt returning kicks again? I don't think so.

For the Bengals, Jets, or the 49ers to sign Adam Jones would be foolishness. They don't need him. They all have pretty solid defenses and the distraction could really hurt them. But as I've said before, the Lions have no where to go but up. They can't get worse. I'm sick of going 2-14. I'm sick of drafting in the top 5 every year. I want to go 8-8, and without a viable secondary, it ain't gonna happen. I'm sick of quarterbacks having career days against Detroit and piling up 400 yards without breaking a sweat. I'm sick of Donald Driver gaining 150 yards against our secondary. I'm sick of it! We NEED a cornerback with skills.

Pacman fits that bill.

He also comes at a cheap price. No one else truly wants him, not even the CFL. But Jim Schwartz, who coached Pacman to success in 2005 and 2006, believes this experiment can work, and I trust Schwartz. And if we can give Pacman a one-year contract for $1 or $2 million, I think we have to do it.

Yeah, I know. Pacman Jones is going to make more money in one year than I'll make in my entire life combined, and he goes to strip clubs and smokes weed and owns guns and doesn't deserve anything other than a life in jail. It's tragic. It's ridiculous. But it's the NFL. Lots of guys make more money in one year than I'll make in my entire life. Complete idiots (Ochocinco), guys with no talent (Harrington), even rapists and murderers (Roethlisberger, Ray Lewis). Heck, Darko Milicic cashed in something like $40 million and I'm pretty sure he didn't deserve more than 50 cents.

It makes me sick that Pacman Jones is allowed to walk free, play football and make millions. But I'm not naive. Plenty of guys in the NFL are just as stupid as him and do just as terrible things; the only difference is they aren't stupid enough to repeatedly get caught. It's a business, a very expensive business, and if the Lions can get a cornerback with good speed and defensive instincts for a cheaper than average price, I am all for it. He isn't a long-term solution, he isn't going to be a Pro Bowler, and I'm sure he'll have his share of bad plays and touchdowns given up.

But is Adam Jones an improvement over Anthony Henry and Phillip Buchanon? Holy crap yes.

For more on Pacman, check out this very funny video:

1 comment:

  1. I think the real key is that he's almost no risk... in my mind...

    Sign him. Like you pointed out, he's better than anything we've got. And if he screws up off the field again, we probably wouldn't owe him a dime...