Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pacman's Latest Escapades Create More PR Nightmares for Titans

Public altercations involving unsavory characters. Suspicious automobiles. Guns. Cocaine. Huge amounts of cash.

What sounds like the teaser for a forthcoming episode of “Law & Order” is actually a slice from the life of Tennessee Titans defensive back Adam (“Pacman”) Jones.

Last year’s #1 Titans draft choice (pictured, left) was a PR nightmare from the beginning. In summer 2005 he held out from signing his contract, lost valuable time learning the team’s defensive scheme, then entered the season cautiously, exhibiting remarkable physical talent and a grapefruit for a brain. Jones had some good moments returning kicks, but he also was eaten up alive by opposing wide receivers.

Jones has the speed to be a shut-down cornerback, which is why he was drafted so high. He sometimes showed improvement as a defender, then he’d slip back and get burned badly, which is the price paid by teams willing to give their thoroughbreds on-the-job training.

As stated often in these pages in the recent era, the Titans still need help in their defensive backfield. They didn’t necessarily address the problem either in the recent 2006 draft, opting for high-profile offensive talent in Vince Young and LenDale White. Given Jones’ recent extra-curricular exploits, the problem has probably just gotten worse.

Last season, Jones was involved in a fracas at a strip club. The thing went to court and then was dropped, but the judgment issues surrounding his behavior still loomed large. Now we get this recent story, reported efficiently by Nashville’s NBC affiliate, WSMV-Channel 4 news.

Pacman Jones needs a nanny. Or maybe the Titans could hook him up with the Big Brothers of America. The thuggish behavior and thuggish associations are one thing, I guess, but the idea that a highly paid NFL player would be exercising judgment of this kind is disturbing.

Why would a young man with his own multi-million-dollar pro football contract be consorting publicly with drug dealers? I dunno. If he wanted to, Pacman could buy his stash on the QT, then take an interest in Nashville’s civic, social and artistic life, and none of us would be the wiser that he likes to get high.

Instead, he decides to hang out in public places with miscreants, and somehow his car is being driven by a gun-toting drug dealer. This is not good.

Pacman Jones is young, yes. He is also shockingly inarticulate. Hearing him speak, it is hard to believe he attended West Virginia University. He appears to be confused about who he is and misdirected in his private life. It is logical to presume that he is on a life course that will lead to no good. It’s a very sad situation.

Pacman Jones needs good mentors. He needs counseling. He needs someone to show him that he can be a millionaire athlete and still have rewarding activities that are as much fun as hanging out with thugs.

Could be it’s too late, though. He could be involved in this latest episode more deeply than we know. He seems to have a johnny-on-the-spot attorney working for him. At least he's figured out that much.

I guess the Pacman story might be a tad more regrettable if he actually had performed on the field last year displaying the kind of good judgment so apparently lacking in his personal life. But for all his racehorse speed, he still looked pretty confused about playing cornerback in the NFL.

He can learn, though. He can improve. But he won't get the chance if he's keeping court dates.

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