BATON ROUGE, La. – Pacman Jones is becoming timeless.
No matter how much time seems to pass, plenty of NFL coaches and executives want nothing to do with him.
Thirteen months have passed since a shooting at a Las Vegas strip club that left club bouncer Tom Urbanski paralyzed. Police called Jones an "inciter" of fighting inside the club, and Jones – who, despite reports to the contrary, claims he did not know the shooter – struck a plea deal on gross misdemeanor charges. Nearly a year has passed since Jones was suspended by the NFL for a season, and time has done nothing to heal the wounds he caused the NFL and himself.
"I wouldn't have him on my team," Kansas City coach Herm Edwards said Wednesday, waving his hand dismissively. "I just wouldn't. I won't get into the reasons why."
Of course, that reaction isn't universal. Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who has never shied from controversial characters like Michael Irvin, Charles Haley and Terrell Owens, has been debating whether to bring in the recalcitrant defensive back.
Dallas is in an interesting position. The Cowboys are good enough to win a Super Bowl (they certainly were good enough to sweep the champion New York Giants in the regular season), but are lacking a second really good cornerback. And when it comes to cornerbacks, Pacman Jones is on a lot of most-wanted lists.
"Top five in the league when he's on his game, no question," Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said.
The issue Jerry Jones has to consider is whether he can get the 24-year-old Pacman Jones to behave just long enough. If Pacman can keep it together for a season or two, the Cowboys might get what they crave before letting him go.
Forget teaching a lesson, there's a Lombardi Trophy to be won.
"Most guys who are trouble like that, you can get them to pay attention and step right for a year or two, maybe," said a team executive who wished to remain nameless. "But after that, they just go back to what they really are."
The reality is, someone will give Pacman Jones another chance because he's talented and eventually he'll convince the NFL that he's sorry, even if the extent to which he has matured is questionable.
Not only did Jones stay out until the wee hours of the morning at a New York strip club the night before meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the Las Vegas incident, he obviously didn't get Goodell's message. Jones came away thinking he wouldn't even get a season-long suspension. More than 10 months after being suspended, Jones – who must have his reinstatement application approved by Goodell in order to play again – remains out of the league.
On Tuesday, Jones did a three-hour interview with Irvin, the Hall of Fame receiver who now does radio in Dallas. Jones spoke with Irvin because, as Irvin said, Jones would be "comfortable" talking with someone who has dealt with his own tribulations. During the interview, Jones quibbled that the report about the Vegas incident was off-base because he didn't really have the $85,000 with him that was reported. He only had $60,000.
To paraphrase Monty Python, "let's not bicker and argue over who killed who."
After talking with Irvin, Jones did a cursory interview with a host of reporters, including ESPN and the Cowboys beat reporters.
"That was worse than if he hadn't done anything at all," one NFL executive said. "If you're going to face questions, face everybody. It just means that he still doesn't get it."
Jones wants life on his terms right now. Of course, this always has been the case. Before he had ever played a game in the NFL, the West Virginia product did an appearance in Los Angeles with a bunch of other rookies. With him was an assistant whose job was to carry Jones' cell phones. There were more than two.
While with Tennessee, Pro Bowl linebacker Keith Bulluck was asked to speak with Jones. The coaching staff was hoping that another star player might be able to talk some sense into him.
Jones' sarcastic response to Bulluck: "Man, I was the No. 6 overall pick, what can you tell me?"
No amount of discussion seems to get through to Jones. Yes, he grew up in a rough environment where he lived hard and blah, blah, blah. Sorry, that doesn't excuse not getting it.
Or as Ryan, who said he'd be willing to take Jones in the right situation, said: "It doesn't take that much effort to do the right thing."
No, it doesn't. It also doesn't mean that you can't have a little fun, regardless of what you consider fun. You just need to figure out how to do it responsibly.
So far, Pacman has had plenty of time. He's not using it very well. During the interview with Irvin he didn't rule out strip clubs for the rest of his life.
"But I can say they won't see me (in strip clubs) for the next three or four years," he said.
Unless Jones changes about his behavior, it could be that long before Goodell gives him another chance.
- Pacman Jones
- Jerry Jones
- Michael Irvin