Commissioner Roger Goodell came down hard on Pacman Jones today, delivering to him the hardest hit he's received as a pro. Pacman was suspended for the entire 2007 season without pay and the Bengals' Chris Henry was suspended for eight games by Goodell, "for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy and engaging in conduct detrimental to the league on numerous occasions."
"We must protect the integrity of the NFL," Goodell said. "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."
The disciplinary action is deserved, but far too harsh, in my opinion. Pacman is being used as a scapegoat and Goodell is making an example out of him. I fully expect Pacman's lawyers to appeal and to probably challenge this in court, possibly with the backing of the players' union.
Jones must also adhere to the following in order to gain reinstatement next year:
- He must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement.
- He 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 teams 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 teams 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.
Failure to meet these conditions could result in additional disciplinary action, said Goodell.
"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," said Goodell. "These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis."
Titans owner Bud Adams issued this statement
in support of Goodell's decision.
Goodell wrote the following in letters to both Jones and Henry:
"Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league. You have put in jeopardy an otherwise promising NFL career, and have risked both your own safety and the safety of others through your off-field actions. In each of these respects, you have engaged in conduct detrimental to the NFL and failed to live up to the standards expected of NFL players. Taken as a whole, this conduct warrants significant sanction.
"I must emphasize to you that this is your last opportunity to salvage your NFL career. I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you in that effort."
Jones has been involved in ten police incidents, including five arrests, since being drafted by the Titans two years ago. He currently faces one felony charge in Georgia, has been recommended for one felony and two misdemeanor charges by Nevada police, and may face possible further legal problems in Tennessee.
The Titans were fortunate in being able to sign free agent cornerback Nick Harper this offseason. He'll team with Reynaldo Hill on the other side, but I now expect the Titans to draft another corner, sooner rather than later than they planned.