Cincinnati Bengals' cornerback Adam "Pac Man" Jones has learned the hard way about how not to handle one's self as a professional athlete. Last week, a Las Vegas jury found Jones liable for $11 million in damages to two employees of a strip club who were shot by members of Jones' "entourage."
While Jones will appeal the verdict, he's seen enough of the self-inflicted damage he's done to himself during his five years in the NFL to know things have to change in the way he lives his life. Jones not only has enacted those changes in his life, but he's volunteered to speak to the incoming NFL rookies next week at the NFL's rookie symposium to tell them how not to manage their newfound fame and fortune.
Jones told Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson that his poor decisions have already cost him around $6 million (not counting the Las Vegas verdict). Jones had bounced from being the first round draft choice of the Tennessee Titans to being the most recent Bengals' reclamation project, on the verge of losing his career forever.
"I had no respect for the money I got," Jones told Hobson. "I had respect for football. (But) I acted like I was still hanging out in college. I didn't realize the scrutiny that came with it."
Part of his problem, Jones says, was surrounding himself with individuals who only wanted to live off his wealth, but didn't care about Jones as a person.
"At the end of the day, the entourage wasn’t there when you were in college, working extra hours in your books or running back touchdowns, or defending balls, or when your mom is sick. … Most of the time they're not the people you call to get a good conversation, or get your back."
Now, Jones limits his "entourage" to his family and teammates. He even changes his phone number periodically to keep the hangers-on from finding him again.
Jones fought through injury and suspension last season and was a productive member of the Bengals' secondary, so much so that the Bengals re-signed him as a free agent this off season. Jones realizes though that his past is still part of the equation. His deal with Cincinnati is only for one year at around $1 million and lots of incentives. That's a far cry from what Carlos Rogers, who was drafted three slots behind Jones in the 2005 NFL Draft, received from the San Francisco 49ers this off season. Rogers signed a four year $31.3 million deal to remain with the Niners.
It would seem that Adam Jones has finally matured. Both he and the Bengals hope that there's still plenty of gas left in the tank for him to help the Bengals secondary. Jones is also hoping that the rookies in his audience next week listen to his story.
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