I might be the only man in America who actually has sympathy for the guy once known as “Pacman.”
OK, I know he hasn’t been released by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys yet. And I know his punishment may end up being a four-game suspension, but as a Cowboys fan, I’ve already parted with No. 21.
Now look what I’ve gone and done: Admitted my fandom to the Cowboys, seemingly hurting my credibility.
But I assure you: This has nothing to do with my love for America’s Team.
Heck, Cowboys fans from my own friends to my dad, the lawyer, have all told me what the media has said: Adam Jones has had his chance.
I’m told how much money he makes, what a great opportunity he’s been given and truly how lucky he is. But even still, I’m not convinced.
Now before you get all buck-wild on me and bring up the pristine image of the NFL, I will address this before I make my case.
I can remember a time when there were ex-murderers and sex boats. The NFL still retained its image.
Even with Michael Vick, the NFL still had its image.
Because former commissioners knew one player, even a group of players, could not speak for the league as a whole.
And they knew fans grasped this as well.
Former man-in-charge Paul Tagliabue did a superb job of marketing the league to appeal to families and football fans alike, while not trying to emulate Disney.
But current Commissioner Roger Goodell is a tyrant, and he doesn’t want to just look like Disney; no, he wants the NFL to be Disney.
He’s made his short dictatorship one about image. Never mind the fact that there’s no bargaining agreement for the 2010 season, Goodell’s legacy will be the image of the league.
Now to the case: Jones’ punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
I know his revival to the league, performed by the Holy Goodell himself, was contingent on his abstinence from alcohol.
I don’t care. Let the team handle issues of such grave importance.
The league’s personal-conduct policy itself isn’t for Jones anyways; it’s for the NFL and its own interests.
It seems as if the NFL is judging Jones’ as if he still has to pay for his previous offenses.
If the NFL wanted to ban him, it should have done so when it had the chance. That at least would have made sense.
Instead, Goodell suspended Jones for the entire 2007 season and still put him on the strictest probation imaginable for a professional athlete.
The man did his time. We should judge him as such.
The NFL has players cheating with steroids and teams cheating with cameras, but it chooses Jones to make an example of?
And this time, it didn’t fit the crime, but Adam Jones will be doing the time.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.