Pacman Jones to the Lions?

>> 3.23.2010

Pacman Jones a Detroit Lion? I wrote about the Lions, the NFL, second chances and wasted talent before, when I looked at the cases of Charles Rogers, Mike Vick, and Glenn Winston.  When it comes to Pac-Man Jones, nothing’s changed: the number of chances misbehaving football players receive varies in direct proportion to their on-field ability (or perception thereof).  As disgusting as that sounds, it’s really no different than the white-collar workplace—don’t top-gun account execs get away with more “martini lunches” than their non-billable assistants would?

In terms of both perceived football ability, and gravity of his crimes, Pac-Man Jones falls in between Rogers and Vick.  Chuck can’t stay away from the bottle or the bud, and it’s never affected anyone besides him and his family.  Mike Vick brutally tortured and killed animals, and spent and made five-figure sums gambling on a blood sport; he did hard time in Leavenworth for his crimes.

Chuck's competitive fire went out.  Whether it was the drugs, the injuries, or the influence of his old friends from Saginaw, Chuck Rogers simply lost the edge.  His speed left him, his desire left him, and he became, as Bill Parcells would say, "just a guy”.  Meanwhile, Mike Vick’s electrifying legs and haphazard arm had averaged out over six seasons into a worthwhile starting quarterback, and his moon-high upside hadn’t diminished.

So: Mike Vick’s crimes were much worse than Charles Rogers’, but Chuck had proven he had no value whatsoever to the NFL.  Mike Vick’s “maybe a starting quarterback, and maybe even a good one” grade-out means he’s still a potential jackpot.  If Chuck Rogers is an already-scratched-off lottery ticket, Mike Vick’s a perpetual Mega Millions pick—and the drawing, apparently, is always tomorrow.

Pac-Man's crimes—for the most part, starting fights in strip clubs—are worse than Chuck’s, but aren’t as brutal as Vick’s, and haven’t been punished as harshly under the law.  His raw talents as an pass defender and punt returner are elite, and yet his young career has been interrupted too many times for us to see if he’ll reach his potential.

In his rookie season, 2005, his sophomore season, and an abbreviated 2008 campaign with the Cowboys, Jones had 25 passes defensed, 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.  He took one of those picks back 83 yards for a touchdown—and returned 4 punts for scores on 84 tries.  There’s no denying that he’d be a perfect fit, football-wise, for the Lions: any young cover corner with starting experience could find a home on this roster, and despite Martin Mayhew’s insistence that the spot is handled, adding an explosive returner to the stable couldn’t hurt.  But character-wise?

Jim Schwartz had a salient quote on this during his recent Jim Rome appearance:

I think we've all done things we regret at age 21 or 22.
I identify with this—though my transgressions didn't reach "start a brawl with dozens of strippers, bouncers, managers and patrons amidst a tornado of eighty-four thousand dollar bills” magnitude.  Frankly, I trust Schwartz to be able talk with his former star pupil, and know if he's really straightened his life out. 

What bothers me is: what bothers me?  Why don't I want the Lions to sign Pac-Man Jones?  If he can help the Lions salve the wounds of the past ten years with some long-awaited wins, why not?  It’s the same reason we’re fans to begin with: when we don the Lions’ colors, and wear the Lions gear, and announce to everyone else that we’re Lions fans, what the Lions do reflects on us.

We want the Lions to win because we want to win.  We want our invested time and emotion and money to pay off.  We want to walk around town with our jerseys and hats and shirts and jackets, and have the glory of the Lions reflect on us.  What we don’t want is to be the team that was so desperate that they signed a loser like Pac-Man—and what we really don’t want is this headline broadcast across the nation: “LIONS CB ‘MAKES IT RAIN’ IN CASINO; SIX WOUNDED”.

On the other hand, what better city for a new start?  What better team for a reclamation project?  If Jones turns over a new leaf, why not have that greening be in the city that needs it most, on the team that needs it most, at the position—arguably—where they need it the most?

Technorati Tags: nfl,detroit lions,pacman jones,jim schwartz,charles rogers,michael vick


TimT,  March 23, 2010 at 4:30 PM  

Why Pacman?

We look forward to the day that the broken, humbled 2nd chance player breaks down in a rush of emotion after having won an important game.

Pacman is far from humble.
We're far from winning important games.

If both are achieved together...

Ty,  March 23, 2010 at 5:08 PM  

Oh yeah, if Pacman turned it around, and became a key starter on a contending Lions team, it'd be an amazing story. I'd love for it to happen . . . forgive me if I have my doubts, though.


Anonymous,  March 23, 2010 at 5:28 PM  

If the Lions signed him to a contract that didn't pay him too much and they could cut him easily, I don't see a problem with it. They wouldn't be condoning what he did in the past, they'd be giving him a chance to do it differently a second time around. Any help at corner right now is a good thing, because it's unlikely that the Lions are going to get a top corner in the draft this year and I think they need another couple corners that can play.

Neil,  March 23, 2010 at 7:37 PM  

Even if he is reformed or whatever, there is the very real possibility that he just isn't good at playing football anymore. To be honest, that is my chief concern.

Also, this struck me as about the most surreal opening to a sentence that I can think of:

"Pac-Man's crimes—for the most part, starting fights in strip clubs-"

I don't know why but it just made me laugh and laugh like a buffoon.

But honestly, Ty, you raise a very good point. Sometimes it's hard enough for people to walk around in Lions gear and feel proud. It's even tougher if you think the team is filled with unrepentant assholes.

Really, sad as it may be, what it all comes down to is winning. Everyone loves a winner, no matter how ridiculous they may be off the field. Those W's excuse a lot of scandalous stuff. It's hard to love a loser when he's also a dick. No one looks the other way when you're getting whipped every Sunday.

Dave M,  March 23, 2010 at 7:48 PM  

I think it probably goes without saying that if the Lions sign the Pac-Man that the contract must be incentive laden.

For example: We will pay you X amount of dollars if you a) Aren't involved in any law breaking activities, b) Don't break team rules and c) Do X amount of hours of charity work... This of course won't happen exactly. What kind of message would the team send if they're giving a player money to do what most players do on a regular basis.

To be honest, I think the Lions are going to sign him. Here's a nice little bit I picked up from

"He hasn't been in trouble for almost two years now," Mayhew said. "That's a pretty big hoop to jump through."

Sounds like it's in Pac's favor to me. The contract will have to include something along the lines of: Contract may be terminated upon Mr. Jones "making it rain"

Pacer,  March 23, 2010 at 11:45 PM  

Ty-a couple of comments. At least the information the Lions are getting will be first hand. Pac's agent is a good friend of Mayhew. Mayhew is also good friends with Prime and he has been with Pac for about 2 years as a "mentor". No one doubts his talent and he is only 26. A 6th pick and his rookie year was as good as it can get. Can they coach him-his year in Dallas leads me to believe that might be a problem. Nonetheless-structure the contract and if there are no new problems in the last 2 years-sign him. Very little downside from the Lions point of view.

Anonymous,  March 24, 2010 at 10:40 AM  

According to one account I've seen, somebody from Pac's entourage went back into a club after they were thrown out and shot up the place injuring several people and permanently paralyzing one person. No, this is worse than what Vick ever done. If he is still hanging around with his ghetto mafia enforcers, then I would not touch him with a 10 foot pole.

Mike Schottey,  March 26, 2010 at 10:42 PM  

I wrote about this today and my basic premise is that it is a no risk move.

There is no risk to the Lions franchise that can sign him to an incentive laden deal and cut him at the first sign of trouble with no cap in place.

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