I'm not all that excited about the National Football League when it's in season.
The games are definitely exhilarating and can't-miss television—as long as decent teams are pitted against each other. But all the resources sunk into the pageantry, as well as its arrogance in pursuit of the almighty dollar, keep the NFL a distant third on my list of preferred sports.
So it's a rarity that I'll write about the League during its reality television offseason.
However, rumors that the Cincinnati Bengals are wooing one Adam "Pacman/Make It Rain, B****" Jones can't be endured in silence.
What puts this news in the theatre of the bizarre is not necessarily that Jones is evil or incapable of reform.
There are no grounds—not even his litany of arrests and scrapes with the law—for me to believe I know a thing about Pacman's true character. I've never met the dude, never clapped an eyeball on him without aid of a television, never communicated with him, and I can't say I'm familiar with his exploits beyond what has made the police blotter.
However, when you have so many official brushes with the 5-O that they fill an entire laptop screen, there's ample reason to question Jones' character—at the very least.
All the more so when one of those encounters with Johnny Law involves a homicide and/or serious bodily injury.
Nevertheless, you either believe in human redemption and Alexander Pope's translation of an older proverb or you don't. I do—within reason and, for the record, Pacman is unwisely pushing reason—so I'm cool with Adam Jones getting another crack at the straight and narrow.
No, what makes the possibility of Jones' return so perversely ridiculous is the team getting ready to welcome him with open arms.
In fact, that the Bungals are even considering the maneuver is asinine in itself.
Take a look at Cincinnati's roster of players who've found themselves in handcuffs at some point in their not-so-distant past:
1. Running back Cedric Benson—Multiple alcohol-related arrests and allegations of refusing the authority of police officers.
2. Wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe—Arrested as a juvenile for petty theft from Wal-Mart.
3. Wide receiver Matt Jones—Multiple substance-related arrests, including the refuted possession of cocaine.
4. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap—Arrested for DUI before the SEC Championship game, which his Florida Gators lost to the eventual National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
5. Defensive tackle Tank Johnson—Another player with multiple arrests, including possession of assault rifles and a physical altercation with the cops.
6. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph—Nabbed for marijuana possession, making him the ninth Cincinnati player in a span of nine months to find himself in legal trouble.
7. Linebacker Rey Maualuga—Tallied his second alcohol-related arrest when charged with drunken and reckless driving after an incident in January of this year.
8. Wide receiver Maurice Purify—Arrested for disorderly conduct stemming from a bar fight this month.
9. Running back Bernard Scott—Was one of 15 black teenagers who beat four white teenagers, sending one to the hospital, after breaking into and entering a home (to presumably administer the pulping).
10. Offensive lineman Jason Shirley—Yet another Bengal arrested for drunken driving, Shirley mixed in a hit-and-run to keep it fresh.
Toss in the mercurial nature of Chad Ocho Cinco, another wide receiver with behavioral flags (Antonio Bryant), the recent tragedy that ended the life of a troubled athlete on the rebound (Chris Henry), a second-year offensive lineman with a suspicious air of entitlement (Andre Smith), and the mystery behind this wayward franchise becomes a shade less mysterious.
Could the reason for almost 20 years of playoff futility lie in the locker room? Or possibly between the ears of some supremely gifted physical specimens?
If the answer to either question is yes, then the real culpability is in the Bengals' front office.
Again, I won't pretend that a couple bad decisions conclusively and permanently define an individual's character. Lord knows I've made some astoundingly bad decisions in my life.
Furthermore, some of the charges above were probably trumped up and dismissed for good reason. Finally, a few of those transgressions listed were minor and/or can justifiably be blamed on youth.
In particular, it sounds like Bernard Scott's counterproductive days are a distant memory and won't be revived.
Notwithstanding the trivial stupidities and redemptive success stories, the sheer number of encounters with the judicial system on Cincinnati's roster means the circus is constantly hovering.
Right or wrong, perception rules the day and the perception will be that the club has a barrel full of bad apples.
They have 10 guys who've already used up a bevy of second chances and three more who are on thin ice despite no legal troubles.
With this cauldron of turbulence and tenuous psyches, some genius in the front office thinks it might be a good idea to add to it one of the NFL's most notoriously volatile players?
In other words, I'm glad I don't have a thing invested in the Cincinnati Bengals.