Pacman’s Sad Downward Spiral

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - June 27, 2007
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Adam “Pacman” Jones will never again play for the Tennessee Titans. He’ll hook up with another team if he stays out of jail as physical talent outweighs conscience in the ultimate search for victories.

But whether or not Jones will make it back to the NFL or if his future includes incarceration, he has much bigger concerns.

Simply staying alive.

If not now, it’s just a matter of time before Jones finds himself on the losing end of a gun-concluding argument as he continues to dive head-first into the lifestyle that took his father before Pacman celebrated his 6th birthday. And as these things seem to play out, it could likely come when he is least involved.

The Titans’ website says that Jones was raised by his mother and grandmother, and that “he credits them with being the primary reason he was not overcome by his tragic and violent childhood surroundings.” Seems like those life lessons have been lost at the most tragic time, as he is now in need of guidance more than ever before.

While it is always risky to quote from film, in that the dialogue is purposely designed to engage the characters in ways that don’t play out in real life, one example seems to fit.

A central theme in A Bronx Tale is that the saddest thing is wasted talent. It was the lesson Robert DeNiro tried to impart on his good-intentioned, bad-influenced son. I’m not going to tell you what a wonderful person Jones is or that he’s simply a good man caught in bad situations.

No, Pacman isn’t Calogero Anello. He is a violent near criminal who seems completely oblivious to the dangerous situations he has put himself into, and at least for the time being appears to be in no hurry to change directions even when his actions place the innocent at risk.

But he’s got talent.

He’s returned kickoffs and punts, grabbed a few passes and had a few carries for the offense, all the while developing into the shutdown corner the Titans had hoped for when they drafted him with the sixth pick in 2005.

As a senior at Westlake High School in Atlanta, Jones racked up 120 tackles and picked off six passes while rushing for 1,850 yards. His prospect profile on prior to the draft called him a “big-play cornerback who also excelled as one of college football’s premier return specialists. He is considered by many to be the finest defensive player produced at West Virginia in the last decade.”

Now all that may be gone. Jones came into the league with a lot of expectations and it wasn’t too long ago that Internet searches were littered with examples of his athletic glory and tremendous potential. That’s no longer the case. Now the same searches read like a police blotter as Jones has racked up five arrests and has been involved in 11 police investigations since 2005. He now faces 12 years in prison and a $10,000 fine as he has been charged with two counts of felony coercion involving the Feb. 19 shooting outside the Minxx club in Las Vegas.

That infamous evening resulted in - according to published police reports - one bouncer, with whom Jones fought, being wounded in the chest and forearm, a female club patron with a head wound and another bouncer, Tom Urbanski, being paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the hand and torso.

While Urbanski and his lawyer are working on their civil suit against Jones, which seems like an easy victory as Jones is believed to have been the instigator, Pacman hasn’t done anything to turn attention away from himself.

Jones spent the night prior to his meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the one place where all his trouble seems to start, a strip club. That shouldn’t have come as any surprise, and neither should have the one-year suspension ordered by the commissioner.

So how does Jones begin applying the conditions for his return to the NFL? He goes to another strip joint and gets into an altercation that leads to one of his associates firing into a car at those with whom they argued.

Urbanski’s father told ESPN’s Cold Pizza last week that he had received “many responses from NFL players on how embarrassed they are” about Jones’s actions. This is the root of the problem. Everyone has had their fill of the talented defensive back except the man who seems unable or unwilling to take responsibility for, or to change his actions.

Pacman Jones is going to wind up dead far too soon, and no one should be surprised.

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