Bored offseason football pundits have stirred up a minor controversy about Pacman Jones’s invitation to speak at the NFL’s rookie symposium. At the annual symposium, first-year players attend seminars on everything from press conference behavior to financial planning. Jones, a defensive back for the Cincinnati Bengals, spoke last year on the temptations and social dangers facing young players — and he’s scheduled to give a similar presentation this year.
Jones has more than his share of firsthand knowledge about how hard it is to stay out of trouble. His rap sheet includes a 2011 arrest for disorderly conduct stemming from a bar fight and an $11.65 million fine for his alleged role in an altercation with a stripper in Las Vegas in which shots were fired. Last week, Jones was arrested again, this time for allegedly slapping a woman at a bar while watching a Reds game. Jones says the woman attacked him with a beer bottle, and he was defending himself.
In some ways, Jones’s checkered past makes him an ideal presenter for the symposium — not as a role model, but as a cautionary tale. Rookies might dismiss a lecture from a squeaky-clean player, but hearing from a basket case like Jones is more likely to stick with them. He is a walking reminder that losing control in public can hurt players’ wallets and reputations.
Or Jones’s speech could be a hypocritical embarrassment. In that case, at least the rookies will be entertained.
You can contact Sarah Rasher on Twitter @pas_dechat