June 7, 2007 at 10:39 pm | Posted in The Source | Leave a comment

 By The Gambler

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 By The Gambler
Tennessee Titans star Adam “Pacman” Jones can be a champ or a chump. It’s up to him. The conditions set forth by new commissioner Roger Goodell are clear.  If  Pacman Jones wants to play in the National Football League after his one-year suspension is complete, Jones must:

—Fully cooperate with all required counseling, education, and treatment assigned under league or court-ordered programs.

—He must adhere to the restrictions on his activities that have been agreed to by he and the Titans.

—He may not be at the Titans’ facility through May 31 and may not participate in any practices or organized workouts during the term of the suspension. Beginning June 1, he must visit the team facility once each week to meet with the team’s player development director. Also, beginning June 1, he is permitted to spend one day a week at the team facility for conditioning, film study, and other similar activities.

—In conjunction with the team’s player development director and other professionals working with him, Jones must develop with the Titans a structured program of community service or other activity. This program must be submitted to the league office for review and approval.
In addition, he has to avoid conviction or implication in any of the 10 crimes he’s been questioned about by police. The murder of a hard-working strip club bouncer, during NBA All-Star weekend in Vegas, is the most gruesome incident. Being accused of punching a stripper in the face because she picked up money when Pacman, holding garbage bag with $80,000 in ones in it, “was making it rain”, is the most befuddling.
Jones’ punishment also stems from arrests in February for obstruction of police in Georgia and public intoxication and disorderly conduct in August 2006. Goodell also wasn’t thrilled Jones failed to report the February arrest and a March arrest for marijuana possession, which was later dismissed
According to a release from the NFL, in a letter sent to Jones, Goodell wrote: “Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league.”
Jones’ suspension could mean nearly $3.1 million in lost wages.  That’s a lot of gwop. He was scheduled to make $1.29 million in base salary in 2007. The Titans are also expected to go after the prorated portion of his signing bonus, an additional $1.81 million.
Rough, huh?  Jones and his attorneys think so and argued the suspension was “unprecedented” in its harshness for someone who has not been convicted of a crime. 
I caution you. Don’t feel sorry for Jones for two reasons. First, he did it to himself. Secondly, as bleak as Jones’ situation looks, he can be a hero. He has a chance to set an example for generations of young athletes by cleaning up his act, complying with the conditions and truly changing his life.
The NFL has experienced an unusually high amount of player arrests during the past few seasons. The league office fears the prevalent behavior has created a perception among fans and players that talent is more important than character to the NFL.
Goodell is using his one-year suspension of Pacman Jones as the catalytic example of a new and tougher character policy intended to hold NFL athletes to a higher moral standard.
In a 24-page letter to the league Jones’ legal team detailed at least 283 arrests since January 2000 in which none of the players involved had been suspended for a full season. The letter also said Jones, whose own arrests weren’t on the list, could take the league to court.
That’s tough talk from a person admittingly in the wrong. Jones has said in a full-page newspaper add that he realizes the errors of his ways. He’s even said he’ll use the time off to go back to West Virginia to finish up his degree. Yet, a day before his meeting with the commissioner, he was seen at a strip club. Then, Jones is ticketed for speeding with no license four days before Friday’s hearing with Goodell for a possible suspension shortening.
C’mon Man. That’s no way to show remorse. PacMan’s moves are seen as blatant acts of defiance. The typical actions of a spoiled, disillusioned millionaire ballplayer.
The time is now to put up or shut up. Jones is a classic example of the American Dream. A poor single –parent black youth growing up in the rough streets of Georgia, who parlayed his gift of football and the relentless love of his mother into college and then millions in the NFL.
We understand the social landscape most of these players exist in. Many of their friends never left the hood. Many of their family are incarcerated or fell victim to street violence at a young age.  In cases such as Allen Iverson and Michael Vick, these players financially support family members, who don’t always live law abidingly.
This side of the young black athlete we understand. The unique aspects of his character, that has helped him elevate to this athletic greatness, however, is often overlooked.
Jones has a chance to show society his reserve. His diplomacy. His intelligence. His ability to admit a mistake and proactively change. He has a chance to influence societal and political views.
Many people feel professional athletes are spoiled, ghetto super-freaks, who were lucky enough to avoid having to exist in the real world. Others idolize and envy them as being almost non-human. When athletes commit crimes – even murder – the situation is often treated like a one-sided movie. The concerns of the victims and their families are secondary. 
 Jones can clean up his act by committing to community service, laying low and proving to Commissioner Goodell and the world that he is ready to appreciate the privilege of playing pro football. To represent the league honorably on-and-off the field, shows Jones is a well-rounded man. A man who is humble in his god-given gifts, eager to share his positive light with others, and teaches young athletes the value of character, citizenship, and teamwork in sports.
I know it sounds corny and many athletes aren’t willing to or capable of exemplifying these qualities. Still, the league executives and billionaire owners are making it clear that they desire pros without the problems.
As ruthless an industry as professional athletics is, there still has to be an appearance of morality attached to it. Kids who grow up playing sports, with dreams of being a pro, learn many of life’s lessons through participation in athletics. And they pay strong attention to their idols.
“We must protect the integrity of the NFL,” Goodell said in a general press statement. “The highest standards of conduct must be met by everyone in the NFL because it is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis.”
A reformed Jones will show impressionable young athletes, struggling to make it out of the ghetto, how a well-rounded person conducts himself. His name will live on in the NFL. He’ll forever be associated with these words:  “perseverance”, “honor” “reform”, “champion,” “leader”, “influential in social change.”
Very few boys become pro athletes. Learning to become men is a far more valuable skill.  PacMan can chump out to the street mentality. Or he can be a pioneer and a champion of young black kids and athletes of all ethnicities.  
        Disprove the stereotype PacMan. Show the world that the hood produces men of honor, integrity and humility.  Stay out of the strip clubs. Leave those guns alone. Speak to the youth as much as possible. Get out there on that field. Continue to dazzle fans and opponents with your speed, agility and toughness. And change the world. At least change yourself.
 The Gambler can be reached at,


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