From the Sidelines: Let my Pacman go

Published 11:15 pm Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I’m not saying the guy is a saint by any means. I’m not insinuating that he doesn’t have a penchant for making it rain. I’m not dropping my boycott of Tennessee fandom that has been in place since the Titans opted for the troubled and troublesome defensive back in the first round while leaving fellow DBs Antrel Rolle and Carlos Rogers on the board. I’m not even saying the guy has turned his act around entirely. What I am saying is simple, let Adam “Pacman” Jones play.

His suspension came partially as the result of repeated offenses against the NFL’s personal conduct policy and partially because then rookie commissioner Roger Goodell needed to make an example of someone. So a full year’s suspension was levied against The Artist Formerly Known as Pacman. At the time, I don’t belive any reasonable person really batted an eye over the deal, least of all the Titans who apparently neglected to include character in their player evaluation process. Then again, that fact was evident after the team’s selection of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, a player the franchise later failed to adequately discipline following his cleated stomp on the exposed cranium of Cowboys center Andre Gurode.

So no, Pacman Jones was not a model citizen. He was far from it. But clearly, he wasn’t even the only player in that locker room who could have used a significant attitude adjustment.

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Now that he has changed cities, conferences and uniforms, Mr. Jones has decided it would be in his best interest to shed the “Pacman” moniker as a final indication that he is a new man. It was probably a good move for all involved, with the possible exception of Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. He should now consider adopting the nickname “Pacman” in order to compound the confusion and amuse sportswriters across the country.

Nonetheless, the Cowboys’ Adam Jones has been on his best behavior of late. Add that to the fact that a series of charges against him were actually dropped, and all of a sudden, there seems very little reason not to reinstate the cornerback.

Goodell made his point with the suspension of Jones. Now, it is his charge to make sure justice is once again served by allowing Jones to play. Seem a unusual statement? It’s simple.

Goodell has allowed for the reinstatements of other players whose crimes against the league, and society, were far more considerable than those of Jones.

Exhibit A hangs his hat in the same locker room as Jones. Tank Johnson faced a myriad of charges as he headed into the Bears’ Super Bowl showdown with the Colts. That storyline even managed to detract from the NFL’s biggest stage, an embarrassment far greater than Pacman’s strip club antics. And yet, Johnson returned to action last season when he was allowed to suit up for the Cowboys for the latter portion of the campaign.

Interestingly enough, Johnson is Exhibit A and part of Exhibit B in our argument for the reinstatement of Adam Jones.

See, allowing Adam Jones to play pleases all NFL fans. Aside from the Patriots, the Cowboys are the most polarizing team in the league. Fans love them or hate them. And with Jerry Jones at the helm, emotions have been more along the lines of seething disdain for most people.

So adding Adam Jones to the mix in a locker room that includes other volatile players like Johnson and Terrell Owens could provide the perfect recipe for the greatest eruption the world has seen since Mount Vesuvius. Getting to watch the Cowboys fall apart more and more each week and provide the league with its next great mid season soap opera is adequate cause for Cowboy haters to root for The Rain Man’s reinstatement.

On the flip side, Cowboy fans are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of adding this guy to a punchless kick return unit and a secondary that already includes Roy Williams, Ken Hamlin and Terrance Newman. They believe that mix could produce a Super Bowl title. And who is to argue with them? That is potentially the deepest defensive backfield in the league.

Besides, if the old adage is true and there is no such thing as bad P.R. then the decision is a no-brainer. Between the glass house that would be the Cowboy locker room and the possibility of Adam Jones falling off the strip club wagon, the NFL could dominate the headlines for all the wrong and all the right reasons.

Either way, Jones has done all that was asked of him over the last 12 months. His crimes were far less serious than many of his peers to begin with and he has displayed a clear desire to represent himself and the league more appropriately in the future.

So, if Goodell is to prove as just as he has seemed thus far, he has little choice but to reinstate Jones.