I've been thinking about this for a while, and have decided that I am truly ticked off.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of young boys suit up, take the field, and go out and play 60 minutes of a game that they love.
I've been involved in coaching at that level, and I can tell you from experience that many of them have both the aspirations and skill to go all the way to the top. Some of those boys are high school seniors who are looking to impress college scouts enough to get an offer to have their degree paid for if they will come play for the school.
Every year, tens of thousands of young men suit up, take the field, and play in front of tens, even hundreds of thousands of screaming fans cheering them on to victory and glory.
Every year, a couple thousand of these young men throw their hats in the ring, hoping that they played well enough for a professional team to notice, and offer them a multi-million dollar contract as a reward for years of hard work, effort, and success.
Every year, all but a couple of hundred of them have their dreams dashed.
Even the select few who are chosen aren't guaranteed the money. Many of them are cut before the season begins, and they are left wondering what they did wrong as they pursue other career opportunities.
Making it to the NFL is a lifelong pursuit, and the competition is brutal. And that is precisely why I am so ticked off right now.
Football history is rife with examples of men who did not appreciate the opportunities before them, and blew their shot at long-lasting fame, glory, and success.
Some examples from the past include both college and professional athletes who have blown their big shots. There was "Jefferson Street" Joe Gilliam, the one-time starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers who let cocaine and alcohol ruin what could have been a Hall of Fame career.
Maurice Clarett, one of the best freshmen running backs in NCAA Division 1A history? Currently in jail for robbery, possession of a weapon, and resisting arrest.
Michael Vick, the electrifying former quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons? In prison for sanctioning a dog-fighting ring.
Travis Henry has been suspended for at least one year from pro football and faces felony drug trafficking charges. He could serve 25 years to life if convicted.
Odell Thurman has been suspended for two years by the NFL for violating the substance abuse policy.
Tank Johnson, currently a free agent—with a ton of baggage, is languishing in football purgatory because he couldn't seem to stay out of trouble.
And then we have Mister Adam "Don't Call Me PacMan" Jones. the chances he's been given, and subsequently blown, make me downright furious.
I'm serious. I'm having to censor myself right now, because I want to unleash a string of expletives so badly that my hands are shaking.
Jones came out of college early, earning a reputation as a dangerous return man and a solid defensive back during his playing days at West Virginia. He was the first defensive player selected in the 2005 draft, picked up by the Tennessee Titans.
In two years time he had built on his reputation as a play-maker, tying the NFL record for punt returns for touchdowns in his second season while putting up impressive numbers as a cornerback.
But PacMan off the field was a different animal.
Multiple run-ins with the law tried the Titans' patience, and they finally broke ties with him after a one-year suspension stemming from a shooting incident at a Las Vegas nightclub. Dallas picked him up and gave him another chance, confident that the success they had seen with other "troubled" players would translate to a turn-around for Jones.
Wasn't going to happen. PacMan continued to have issues, even getting into a fight with his own bodyguards that saw Roger Goodell levy another suspension on him.
Jerry Jones worked something out and got PacMan back on the field, but by then his abilities had diminished, and he was a complete and utter bust. Dallas released him at the end of the season.
Could another team pick him up? Certainly. But no one in their right mind would do it.
What angers me so much is that of all the players in recent memory who have run afoul of the league, none were given as many chances as Jones to straighten up and fly right. For all his talent, he is nothing more than an over-paid, under-performing juvenile who refuses to appreciate the opportunity he has been given—an opportunity that he beat other players out for who might have been more gracious.
Players who worked just as hard as he did, in some cases even harder, just to see him take their shot and spit on it.
How many real estate brokers and insurance salesmen are out there right now looking at PacMan and thinking, "What an idiot!"
How many former players, both before and after PacMan was drafted, are looking at him and thinking, "What did I do wrong if this guy got a shot and I didn't?"
How many former players would give up everything they have to fill his shoes and show the NFL what a mistake they made in passing them over in the draft?
If I were a betting man, I would bet that the real estate and insurance business would be looking for employees. Lots of them.
I've played, I've coached, and I have a son who plays. I know what goes into the game.
All the blood, sweat, and tears that are shed as a young boy works to improve his skills enough to get noticed? I've seen them.
The joy of seeing success, and the agony of experiencing defeat after giving it your all? I've lived it.
You see, Adam Jones had an opportunity to live the dream. He chose to live the life he has led thus far, and refuses to understand and accept that his actions have consequences.
And I don't want to hear about how rough he had it as a kid. If anything, that should be motivation enough to do better. No one held a gun to is head and made him act up and act out. He did it on his own, with full knowledge that what he was doing probably wasn't the best course of action.
For all his "atta-boys," his "aww-craps" have potentially ruined what could have given him a life beyond his wildest dreams.
If PacMan never plays another down in football, it will be of his own doing. What makes it so sad, and so infuriating, is that there are plenty of guys who would have done better, both on the field and in life.
Time's up, PacMan. No more chances. You have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that you do not have what it takes.
I doubt even State Farm would take you now. But I hear McDonald's needs a fry guy.
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