Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pacman Jones Can't Get Out of His Own Way

While doing my show yesterday morning, an emailer tipped me off about the story. About 10 minutes later, it showed up on Deadspin. 10 minutes after that, America rolled its collective eyes.

The story, as you may have heard, is that Adam "Pacman" Jones is wanted for questioning in connection with a shooting near an Atlanta-area strip club. As you may have heard, Pac and his boys allegedly got in an argument with three other guys at Club Blaze after 4am over a girl. One of Jones' pals threatened one of the other guys, and it all escalated to the point that Pacman's homies followed the other three in a couple cars and exchanged gunfire with them.

There wasn't one NFL fan anywhere who was even remotely surprised.

The critics of NFL Commish Roger Goodell's new player conduct policy often cite the fact that Pacman has not ever been charged with any crimes and yet he is about to serve a full year suspension for constantly being in trouble. For those folks, yesterday was just more grist for the mill. These folks may even have a point if not for the fact that one of the biggest driving forces behind the player conduct policy has been the NFL players themselves.

The fact of the matter is that the players in the league who are sick and tired of being associated with the Fred Smoots, the Chris Henrys and the Tank Johnsons of the world. And of course the man at the top of the NFL miscreant pyramid is Jones. The reason Pacman sits 'above' the others on the list is not that he's done anything technically illegal; it's the fact that his name, as a well-known NFL player, continues to appear in stories usually reserved for the crime beat in the Tennessean or the AJC or whatever.

And it's for this reason that Big Rog should tack on a couple games in the '08 season to Pac's suspension. Jones needs to learn to stop putting himself into these positions. Someone close to him has to force him to take a step back and really consider the consequences of the idiotic crap he does.

Far be it for me to tell anyone to not visit a strip club -- that would be like John Daly telling someone to stay away from beer. What I will to say is this: Pacman himself needs to consider the argument of the very people trying to defend him. That is to say, he keeps getting into trouble without actually being charged, without being the main troublemaker... it's always his posse!

Obviously it's a nettlesome issue when you have to deal with some of your closest friends getting you into trouble, but it's something that has to be done. The argument "you can't break off your homies, you've got to remember where you're from" just doesn't hold any water in this case. I'm not saying I understand the sentiment, especially if the ones that have been doing the shooting are some of Jones' oldest and dearest friends, I'm just saying that it can't be the going thought anymore.

Pacman Jones is a dynamic young talent in the NFL with almost infinite earning potential in the future, but he is constantly jeopardizing that future when he does dumb things like rolling with his boys to the rippers at 4am. He needs to realize that just because he dipped out before rounds were exchanged, it doesn't mean that he isn't responsible for what they do when they hop in their cars and go chasing after some dudes that they've got beef with. Because the headline the next day is not going to read "SOME GUYS SHOOT AT EACH OTHER IN DEKALB COUNTY;" it's going to read "PACMAN JONES SOUGHT FOR QUESTIONING IN STRIP CLUB SHOOTING."

If his inner circle keeps putting him into a position where he can't play in the NFL and he can't make an insanely good living by playing a game, he needs to re-examine his inner circle. Let me put it this way: if you're making 7 figures and one of your oldest and closest friends puts you into a position where you might not be able to work for a whole year, what would you do? Are you gonna "remember where you're from?"

That's what I thought.

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