Six months from now, as Jones takes a punt to the house at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, the young cornerback will have put the 11 Seattle Seahawks giving futile chase and his troubled past behind him. He'll be heralded as a new man, a model teammate – a leader, even. After the game, everyone in the Cowboys' locker room from Tony Romo to Terrell Owens will talk about what a great guy Jones is, how he was really just a misunderstood dude who simply needed to be placed in the proper environment to thrive.
You know, like Randy Moss last year.
Now kindly excuse me, the Tennessee Titans and the majority of their fans while we stick our fingers down our throats and make ourselves vomit.
I'm not saying Jones isn't capable of turning his life around, salvaging his career and fulfilling the promise that had already turned him into one of the NFL's most exciting players in 2006, a year after the Titans made him the sixth overall draft pick. He certainly should understand by now that he is one slip-up away from blowing his chance at getting paid millions to play football, possibly forever, and screwing up under such circumstances would be truly stupid.
But even if Jones has changed, and I'm skeptical, they're not shedding any tears in Nashville over his departure. As one of Pacman's former Titans teammates told me Monday, "By the end (of '06), guys were so sick of him and his antics and the uncertainty over whether he was gonna play that they just wanted it to be over. I think the way guys feel about (his reinstatement) is, 'He'll be a great fit in Dallas.' "
And yes, he was laughing as he said that last part.
Jones was suspended without pay April 10, 2007, less than two months after he was investigated following a Las Vegas strip club incident that left a bouncer paralyzed. Since being drafted, Jones has been arrested six times and has been involved in 12 incidents requiring police intervention.
That's an extended pattern of some very dubious behavior – or, as Jones would call it, bad luck.
Talk to Jones' former teammates and coaches in Tennessee, and the thing that stands out is the way he consistently failed to take responsibility for his actions. As the previously quoted ex-teammate says, "Every time he got in trouble, he would give his sob story about how he was 'targeted' to (Coach Jeff) Fisher, and then he would go and get in trouble again. It was never his fault. He was always the victim."
Asked for an example, the player cited a morning shortly before the start of the '06 season on which Jones showed up at the team's facility and told his coaches he couldn't participate in practice. "He said he was sick – I don't know if he was hungover or what," the ex-teammate said. "He was lying there on the training table looking terrible, so they sent him home. That night he got in trouble at a club at 2 a.m. (after allegedly spitting in the face of a female patron whom he said had taken his wallet). He showed up the next day saying, 'Oh man, they're targeting me. She stole my wallet.' We're like, 'Forget who stole your wallet. What the hell were you doing out at 2 a.m. when you were supposed to be sick?' "
The Titans sat Jones for that weekend's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons – a move that obviously didn't change his behavior. He was suspended for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 5, 2006, after another spitting incident at a nightclub. Shortly after the '06 season Fisher, one of the NFL's most tolerant and player-friendly coaches, finally got fed up with Jones beyond the point of no return when he caught the player in a flat-out lie concerning his whereabouts, according to a source familiar with the situation.
That alone is enough to convince me that Pacman isn't a guy I'd want on my team, but I don't blame Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for acquiring him. The most Pacman will cost Dallas – aside from his incentive-laden contract – is picks in the fourth and sixth round of future drafts, and I think there's a reasonable chance that being banished for more than a year has scared him straight, at least for the time being. One reason Jerry Jones is such a successful businessman and owner is because of his willingness to take risks, and if this one pays off, Dallas will have a supremely skilled player to add to a roster already overflowing with talent.
However, when I hear about the Cowboys' strong support system and how it will be able to keep Jones out of trouble, I roll my eyes. As the former Titans teammate says, "They can tell him all they want how to handle certain situations, but the only way they can 'support' him is if they convince him to stay in at night. If he goes out, trouble will follow."
We could all be proven wrong, of course, as I was with Moss in New England (at least for one season). The great thing about America – especially if you are a shutdown corner and nimble kick returner with blazing speed – is that second chances abound. Jones may well make the most of his, but in the meantime, I'd love to be spared testimonials about his character from people like Cowboys defensive tackle Tank (Say Hello To My Little Friend) Johnson. When I read that Johnson told Jones, "I will be your right hand," why do I picture that hand holding a semiautomatic rifle?
For now, I'll try to swallow my skepticism and brace myself for the inevitable narrative about Pacman's rehabilitation, one which likely will have as much to do with how many games he helps the Cowboys win as it will with his actual effect on locker-room chemistry.
And I'll give Pacman credit for one thing: He's making me feel much less nauseous these days when I write about a certain Patriots wideout.
Compared to Jones, Randy Moss really is a great teammate.
TRIPPIN' ON E(MAIL)
"I'm a little confused by the Rams owner's comments to your article. In one statement, the AP report says he 'explicitly refuted the Yahoo Sports report …' but a couple of lines down it says he did not comment on the potential sale of the team. So what exactly did he refute? Was it the relocation part? If so maybe he is as guilty as some of your other readers, jumping to conclusions without reading the entire article. If I remember right you never said the Rams were definitely going to move from St Louis. In fact you quoted (Eddie) DeBartolo as saying L.A. may not be the place for an NFL franchise."
Chip Rosenbloom's comments – and the way the AP writer chose to depict them as an "explicit" denial – definitely lacked a certain clarity. Whether he has "every intention" of keeping the team in St. Louis, the bottom line is that he and his sister are looking at a massive inheritance tax if they don't sell – and I stand by my report that the team has been shopped to prospective buyers through a third party.
"As a long-time 49ers fan, the only thing that would please me more than Eddie DeBartolo buying the Rams moving them to LA, would be him regaining control of the Niners."
San Jose, Calif.
I know it's tempting, but please don't torture yourself that way. Trust me.
"your a bum."
You're a gentleman and a scholar.
"Dear Mr. Don Julio, can you elaborate on 'the NFL's cross-ownership policy (which does not allow someone with controlling ownership in an NFL franchise to own major pro sports teams who play in a different NFL city)'? Isn't Paul Allen the owner of both the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers? Thanks."
Salt Lake City
Yes, but only because you called me 'Mr. Don Julio': The rule is that the owner of an NFL team cannot own another major pro sports franchise that plays in a different NFL market. Thus, if there were a Portland NFL franchise, then Allen would not be allowed to own the Trailblazers. Under the current landscape, Allen would be free to own teams like the Blazers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Memphis Grizzlies or soon-to-be-Oklahoma City SuperSonics. (Uh, never mind that last example.) He could also own the Mariners, because they play in Seattle.
"I guess you hypothetical question regarding would you really voluntarily show up under your scenario. The key is in 'fat salary.' Yes people in the real world who have fat salaries show up to voluntary activities for thier companies all the time. Give me a break. These guys don't make real-world salaries. They should be thanking the stars everyday that they have such God given talent and can earn a huge salary simply by playing a game. Mike, try writing something that people actually care about."
I will try, if you try writing opening sentences that I can actually understand. (And please don't take that too personally – I am the grammar police. It's fine that we disagree. And I do appreciate the feedback.) On a less serious note, could you do me a favor and kindly refrain from stealing my vacation?
"Concerning voluntary workouts and your example for the workplace, I think you forgot one key distinction. In addition to the scenario you outlined, I would add that there are also three or four of my co-workers – of varying experience but probably less pay – attending this workshop, specifically for the opportunity to prove to my boss that they can do my job (and for less pay). And that my boss has openly suggested to them that my position is available should they prove to be better at it then me. Almost everyone is probably in a position to worry about their job and whether they could lose it to another employee or even a new hire, but most companies don't routinely hire five to twenty people every year to compete directly for positions already held in the company. Even if some do, they probably don't tell the new employees during the interview 'Now, if you're not in the top 50 percent of this department after 6 months, we're going to have to let you go.' If they do, they probably have some extremely competitive people trying to take away my job. If that's the nature of my workplace, I'm probably going to do everything asked of me, 'voluntary' or not."
That's a good point, and I'm glad you brought it up. In general, I'm a little amazed by the knee-jerk, pro-management stance of many readers. It's as if people are saying, "Yeah, work sucks, the boss is king, and if you want to keep getting paid you'd better kiss some ass." I get that, but there's also something called collective bargaining. In the NFL's case, there is a collective bargaining agreement, and the NFLPA and management council have negotiated a policy on offseason workouts. As per that policy, many of these workouts are voluntary. Therefore, any efforts by the employer to treat them as mandatory are, in my mind, a breach of contract.
"Close your eyes and pretend you are in Iraq. You are getting paid far less then some one your age. You have dirt on your face, blood on your uniform and burn marks on your hand. Your ears are still ringing hours later when you are back on base. Even though you have worked 80 hours that week and finally get a few hours to yourself to catch up on sleep, you decide you are going to go to the internet cafe to log onto a computer and check up on football. Then you read some horrendous [series of expletives] article about football players complaining they are only making $5 million instead of $7 million (a soldier makes less than 1 percent of that a year). Or they have to show up for a football camp. Earth to Michael – it is time for a reality check. These football players are pampered and spoiled. People, real people, everyday go through far, far worse than these players for far, far less money. No one should feel sorry for them. It astounds me that they could have such an easy life and make so much money and complain so much – and not feel like a complete slime bag. And you think they should be paid extra for this training. Wow. Soldiers attend training on how to not get killed or save the lives of other soldiers; these soldiers don't receive an extra dime."
Well, if you put it that way – yeah, football players have a better deal than soldiers. I appreciate your brave service, and I pray that we soon have a regime change in the U.S. that helps bring you home safely.
"Your analogy of how a football player and a person making a fat salary are flat out stupid. Who gets the longer vacation in a year? Moron."
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Hi, I'm Jeff from Huntington Beach. I'm a little frustrated at work, and the price of gas is up and the surf is down. I disagree with the analogy in this Y! Sports column, so I think I'll email the writer and call him a "moron" and play some more free-cell on the computer. And now I feel a lot better. Thank you.
"On your response to Randy in Las Vegas, you said 'how about letting me and my fellow Californians handle this situation.' I think that you and your fellow Californians did handle the situation, by voting that the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. The vote was overturned by a group of liberal judges, who think that they know what's best for the people. So it would seem that you should have said let our Californian judges handle the situation, they know what's best! 'In your column you mentioned drinking straight out of the bottle toasting the California Supreme Court. I'm sure it was not for their decision on gay marriages. No 4 idiots in black robes should be able to override the will of the people.!!!!! !' Randy LeBlanc Las Vegas You are surely mistaken – I was absolutely celebrating that historic decision. Listen, I know that marriage is taken very seriously in Las Vegas, but how about letting me and my fellow Californians handle this situation?' "
It may surprise you, but three of the four California Supreme Court judges who declared that banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional (and six of the seven judges on the court) were appointed by Republican governors. As for the will-of-the-people contention, you might be interested in this new public opinion poll. But the real problem with your argument has to do with its mistaken notion of the role judges play in determining law and upholding the constitutional rights of the citizens they serve. This is explained in the following email from a very intelligent Californian.
"I would like to respond to Randy LeBlanc's ignorant comments in your last mailbag about how 'No 4 idiots in black robes should be able to override the will of the people.!!!!! !' I would just like to say that not only should they be able to, that's what they're there for! The Judicial branch of the government was created in the Constitution to nullify laws that are created that go against the Constitution. The fact of the matter is that a civil marriage brings with it a number of legal rights, and it is not the right of the people or the government to deny those rights to people based on their sexual orientation. Let me put this another way. What if the people put an initiative on the ballot that said all accused child molesters should be put to death without need of a trial or appeal and it passes? Should that measure be placed above the Constitution because it was 'the will of the people?' No. It should be stricken down because it violates many of the basic rights afforded us as U.S. Citizens. The fact is that the Constitutions of both the United States and California do not distinguish between laws put into effect by legislatures and those put into effect by the people. All laws are subject to legal challenge and judicial review."
"Statement, Mr. Silver on the state supreme court decision (CA) you are not correct La Blanc from Las Vegas is. Isn't that what a democracy is supposed to be? Government for, of, and by the people? Something about the majority? How would you like your will, voted on, and it was a majority however the state supreme court says 'sorry folks we don't think you're intelligent enough to make the right decision' how would feel? I know this is just one issue that must affect you personally in some way so (expletive) the rest of us and our vote. Your a selfish person and sooner or later it'll come back around to haunt you. Thank you for allowing me to express myself.' "
You're welcome. And you're also wrong
"Dude that song about the CBA was awesome. You should get someone to record this and almost all of your songs and put it on an album I'd buy it … "
That's very cool. And scary.
"I find that I have more respect for you with each article that I read. It is just too funny for someone such as yourself to be calling out your readers/respondents on their poor grammar and spelling. I appreciate your intelligence and quick wit regarding the game and the teams as well. However, this article about Jay Cutler and the correlation to your son just pushed my esteem for you over the top. My dad has Type I diabetes, and I grew up knowing how to recognize and manage his 'high' and 'low' behaviors. Syringes and test meters are no big deal, and we were eating balanced meals before it was popular to do so. I have always supported the awareness of juvenile diabetes, and, even now, I proudly display one of the very few Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org) license plates running around Indy. Thanks for adding yet another wonderful facet to your public personality and for reporting on Jay's new challenges. He just gained a new fan. Doubles of Don Julio are on me when you're in town."
I totally appreciate that. And given the next email you are about to read, I'm going to need them.
"How can you call Indidanapolis a logistical nightmare when they are able to handle two races a year that have triple the number of people of a Super Bowl? If getting on I-70 for three miles to get to the closest hotel besides downtown is too hard for you then stay in freaking L.A. We know how well that city is set up. Keep your back-handed, ill-informed, compliments to yourself."
Gentlemen, start your chainsaws.
"Tough loss with the Cal softball team losing to UF in the Super Regionals. Take solace in the fact that almost half of UF's roster is from … California! Go figure."
I was very proud of the way the Bears battled, and I'm really excited about what Diane Ninemire's team will do next season and beyond. Congratulations to the Gators on a terrific season, and also to the Arizona State Sun Devils and Texas A&M Aggies, who are fighting it out for the title in a best-of-three series (with Game 2 set for Tuesday evening in Oklahoma City).
"You're absolutely right about something: your sister in law whups your pompous keyboard tapping ass."
Palm Harbor, Fla.
Yes, she does. But only on birthdays and holidays.