Does a league beset with off-field violence issues really want to make a role model out of a guy who is still beset with off-field violence issues? It would be one thing if Jones, a Cincinnati Bengals cornerback, had outgrown his troubled past, but he's still living it. Earlier this month, he was arrested and accused of hitting a 34-year-old woman at a downtown Cincinnati nightclub.
Isn't this like allowing an accused arsonist to speak to young firefighters while playing with matches?
Troy Vincent, the NFL's vice president of player engagement, basically told the Cincinnati Enquirer that players would listen to Jones talk about trouble-making because he was the real deal.
"You're not going to trick an athlete. They know when it's dressed up and not real," Vincent said. "When you can sit among your peers and just talk about your life, someone is learning from that."
But this scared-straight approach works only if the speaker has also been scared straight. Jones is obviously still battling the demons that have led to numerous off-field incidents. The most egregious resulted in Jones paying $11 million in damages to two Las Vegas strip club employees after a gunman shot them while allegedly doing Jones' bidding in 2007.
Does the NFL really want to make a role model out of someone who still needs a role model? Aren't they trying to be too cool here? Aren't they trying too hard to relate to young players who would be better off listening to someone tougher than tough-guy Pacman, someone who has actually shown the strength to overcome the off-field temptations?
Jones spoke to the symposium last year and was apparently very compelling. Too bad he didn't listen to his own advice. Now that he's back in trouble, he needs to be sitting in the audience with the rookies. Before allowing Pacman to preach to anyone else, the NFL needs to find someone to preach to him.