Taking responsibility first step to proper conduct

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2007

As you may or may not have noticed, I have a tendency to dwell on the actions of those involved on sports. More specifically, I have a problem when those involved in the sporting world, in positions that could influence younger generations that look up to them, don&8217;t act in a way that someone that could be construed as a role model should act.

In today&8217;s world, where people seem to pass the buck for their inappropriate actions, there are numerous instances of such unruly, unapologetic players in every professional sport. Unfortunately, the lack of owning ones actions and prevalence of justifying ones behavior as the result of someone else&8217;s actions has prompted some sports to start enforcing a stricter code of conduct for the high profile athletes that are in their respective leagues.

One of the most high profile leagues dealing with this new age of imposed morals for its players is the National Football League. The organization&8217;s commissioner, Roger Goodell, has recently imposed a crackdown on player misconduct by imposing strict penalties for players who cannot tow the line of moral behavior.

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And why not?

Since 2006 there have been more than 50 arrests involving NFL players. Last season saw the arrest of nine players from the Cincinnati Bengals organization alone.

Two of the first recipients of the new Goodell justice, Adam &8220;Pacman&8221; Jones and Chris Henry, received letters from Goodell informing them of their suspensions for misconduct with the statement: &8220;Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club and the NFL and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league. You put in jeopardy an otherwise promising NFL career.&8221;

Both Jones and Henry, who played together in college at West Virginia, have had recent run-ins with the law. Henry has been arrested four times in three states since he entered the NFL in 2005. Jones on the other hand has been interviewed by police 10 times and arrested five in the same period.

Jones has had the most high profile suspension of those handed down by Goodell. Currently, he faces a season suspension that could cost him over $1.2 million in salary alone. The length of the suspension could be cut back to 10 games depending on the outcome of the two felony charges Jones currently faces, according to Goodell.

Such a dependency on the outcome of a criminal case, coupled with the go ahead by the league to suspend Jones before the findings, has prompted some outburst by players on the legitimacy of the suspensions. Jones himself even lodged an appeal of such a harsh penalty.

But the fact remains that the NFL, as a private organization, can do what it wants in regards to player conduct. And even if Jones is cleared of all charges, the fact remains that he seems to have a problem being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While he might not be committing these crimes, Jones has repeatedly found himself in the company of individuals that will, which could be construed as almost as alarming as him committing the acts.

Jones is not a dumb man either, as he was a member of the Athletic Director&8217;s Athletic Honor Role in college. He has also donated time and money to numerous humanitarian causes &8212; showing repeated support to police, firefighter and emergency worker groups as well as personal interest in the lives and well being of upcoming athletes. It just seems when he is around certain crowds he slips into stupid mode.

This appears to have finally sunk into the head of the only man that can rectify the situation, Jones, who has withdrawn his appeal of the punishment. Following which, he issued a statement through his agent that stated:

I hope Jones means what he has said, because he seems to have the brains and actions to be a role model when it strikes his fancy. I also respect him for accepting his punishment like a man, rather than laying the blame on others. I will continue to watch and see how it works out, and I hope other players in the NFL will follow his lead and take responsibility for their actions and the repercussions.

Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at brandon.glover@demopolistimes.com.