Pacman Giving Rookies Extra Lives
By Zachary Doleiden
With the 2013 NFL Rookie Symposium currently underway, first-year players selected in April’s draft receive the opportunity to learn through video segments, panel discussions and guest speakers what life as a professional athlete is truly like – both the good and the bad.
On Monday, rookies attended a lecture led by Bengals CB Adam “Pacman” Jones and former Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett about the potential pitfalls of life as a star football player.
With Jones’ recent arrest on charges of assaulting a woman in a bar (which he claims was in self-defense, as she came at him with a bottle during an altercation with her friend), the NFL’s decision to allow him to speak with its next generation of impressionable youths was met with much criticism.
How is it a good idea to let a player that was suspended for an entire season in 2007 and six more games in 2008, who had a house go into foreclosure that same year and who just weeks ago found himself in legal trouble once again, lecture NFL newcomers on how to properly live off the football field?
My question is: who would be better to make such a lecture than Jones himself?
Sure, Jones has had his share of troubles since being selected sixth-overall by the Titans in 2005, but he has been able to learn from his mistakes and have a pretty solid career overall.
After suspensions cut short his time in Tennessee and defined his playing time with the Dallas Cowboys, Jones spent the 2009 season as an unsigned free agent.
During this impromptu sabbatical, Jones could have let whatever demons had clouded his decision-making ability in the past to take over and destroy any shot he had at making a return to play on a NFL field.
Instead, Jones stayed focused and was rewarded in 2010 when he inked a two-year contract to play for the Bengals, where he has become a solid addition to the squad as a punt returner and defensive back on the field without incident off the field. After a particularly solid 2012 campaign, Cincinnati again rewarded Jones with a three-year deal to remain with the team.
While many of those who criticized the NFL’s decision to let Jones speak at the annual Rookie Symposium did so strictly because of his actions off the field, I believe it is for that very same reason why he is such a perfect fit to show these young players what can happen if you do not keep your head on straight.
Jones can also act as a source of inspiration of sorts for those attending the symposium for the way he battled back from the brink of being an NFL outcast through hard work and a serious cleansing of his tainted image.
Perhaps New York Jets rookie QB Geno Smith summed it up best when he told reporters attending the symposium that Jones has always preached not to make the same mistakes he has in life.
“He’s made a lot of mistakes in his career, but he’s a guy who is still standing strong and still working hard,” Smith said. “He’s using his past trials and tribulations to try and help us.”
Whether the rookies ultimately heed Jones’ warning of the potential dangers associated with life as an NFL player or they follow in his footsteps in a more direct path remains to be seen.
Regardless of how the careers of these youngsters wind up, however, Jones is undeniably the right “Pacman” for the job.