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Adam "Pacman" Jones

Does ‘Pacman’ Deserve His Suspension?

October 16, 2008 10:02 AM
by Denis Cummings
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones was suspended indefinitely Tuesday for an altercation with his bodyguard; pundits are applauding the decision, but some players say it is too harsh.

Jones Suspended At Least Four Games

Adam Jones, formerly known as “Pacman” Jones, missed all of last season while serving a 17-month suspension for repeated off-field misbehavior. The Cowboys, who acquired Jones in the off-season, hired several bodyguards and a driver to accompany Jones everywhere he went. They also forbade him from attending bars and strip clubs, where many of his altercations had taken place.

On Oct. 7, at a private party, Jones was reportedly involved in a scuffle with one of his bodyguards, Tommy Jones. Police were called, but the dispute had ended by the time they arrived, and the bodyguard declined to press charges.

The Cowboys decided the incident was not serious enough to punish him, with owner Jerry Jones calling it an “aberration.” The cornerback was allowed to play in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Jones would be suspended indefinitely; Jones will miss at least four games, during which time he will receive treatment and alcohol counseling, and be evaluated by “clinical experts.” After the Cowboys’ Nov. 16 game, Goodell will decide whether to reinstatement Jones.

In a letter to Jones, Goodell wrote that his “disturbing pattern of behavior was clearly inconsistent with the conditions I set for your continued participation in the NFL.” There was talk that Jones may be given a lifetime ban, but Goodell decided to give him another chance.

Background: Jones’ troubles

Adam Jones has been in trouble frequently during his time in college and the NFL. Since being drafted by the Titans in 2005, he has been arrested six times and been involved in six other altercations where police became involved.

In February 2007, he was involved in a fight at a Las Vegas strip club. After he had left the club, a member of his entourage returned with a gun and shot club manager Tommy Urbanski, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Goodell suspended Jones for one year on April 10, 2007, the same day that he announced a new player conduct code. The suspension required Jones to apply for reinstatement, which he received 17 months later. Jones promised that would improve his behavior, even dropping the “Pacman” nickname.

“There’s really just a lot of negativity behind it,” he said. “It’s just time for a change, man. I’m doing everything to make sure that I’m all right as a person, mentally and emotionally.”

It turns out that Jones was not able to change, surprising even Urbanski. “I thought he’d make it through the season before he went nuts,” Urbanski told the Daily News. “But he can’t even make it that long. It’s scary to think that if he’s not playing football, he’ll be out on the streets.”

Reactions: Players defend Jones

Retired Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders, who has served as a mentor for Jones, told the Dallas Morning News that the suspension was too harsh and may dishearten Jones. “We’re praying that he doesn’t lose hope,” Sanders said of Jones.

Redskins running back Clinton Portis also defended Jones on the Washington Post's D.C. Sports Blog, saying the incident was “blown out of proportion” because of his past behavior. “You know, I could see if it was pistol play or if he strangled him or choked him out while he was driving,” said Portis, “but you know, if it’s man-to-man and we bump chests and push each other, you know, I don’t think that’s an altercation worth taking football away from him.”

Opinion & Analysis: Was the suspension just?

Most writers applaud Goodell’s decision, saying that a suspension was the proper punishment for the fight. “No, Pacman Jones did not deserve a lifetime suspension for getting into a scuffle with the bodyguard the Cowboys assigned to him. But he deserved a suspension,” writes Dan Pompei in the Chicago Tribune. “Commissioner Roger Goodell was right on the mark when he told Jones on Tuesday to sit out at least the next four games. It wouldn’t have bothered me if Jones had to sit out the rest of the year.”

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King believes that Jones was “fortunate” to avoid a lifetime suspension, which he may receive if he has another misstep. “Talking to people in the know, I hear there is steam coming out of Goodell’s ears on this one, and if Jones is let back into football, he’ll be banned for life if he jaywalks or doesn’t help little old ladies cross the street,” writes King.

Several writers, including The Bergen Record’s Ian O’Connor, took shots at Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for failing to discipline Jones himself. Writing for, O’Connor calls the owner a “gutless wonder” and says, “Jones was weak when he brought in another outlaw, Pacman, and weaker when he refused to punish him.”

However, there are some who are defending Adam Jones, including Flint Journal sports editor Patrick Hayes. “Adam Jones never had the second chance that everyone thought he was lucky to be getting. He was essentially a prisoner,” writes Hayes. “He may have been a well-compensated prisoner, but he was still a prisoner under those circumstances none the less. The Cowboys and the NFL may have been trying to look out for Jones’ best interests by keeping him away from temptations that have led to his past trouble. But forcing someone into following rules by taking away individual rights does not allow him to grow as a person.”

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