Accountability counts...even for pro athletes
The above statement was made midseason last year by Tennessee Titans’ head coach Jeff Fisher in reference to Adam “Pacman” Jones after one of the many altercations he’s had since being selected sixth overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. At the time, Fisher also noted Jones needed to clean up his act or else the Titans would be forced to take severe disciplinary actions against the troubled but talented athlete.
Jones did straighten out.
That is, for about a millisecond.
Just over a month ago, Jones accompanied several friends, including rapper Nelly and music producer Jermaine Dupri, to the Minxx Gentlemen’s Club in Las Vegas for some good ol’ fashioned fun. At one point during the evening, Jones and/or one of his cronies decided to “make it rain” by throwing $81,000 in one-dollar bills into the air and letting strippers scramble for it like kids chasing candy under a broken piñata.
I guess one of the strippers didn’t say the magic word while snatching the cash, however, because Jones angrily grabbed her by her hair and smashed her head into the stage.
When club bouncer Aaron Cudworth went to break up the altercation, he grabbed Jones’s arm and, in the process, ripped out stitches from Pacman’s recent shoulder surgery. Angry with Cudworth, Jones allegedly went on to bite the bouncer’s ankle, threatened to kill him and told one member of his group to “smoke his ass.” Later in the night, a member of Jones’s group allegedly went out to a car, grabbed a gun and then shot Cudworth, a female customer, and a security guard named Tom Urbanski. None were killed, but Urbanski is now paralyzed from the waist down because a bullet severed his spine.
The shooter is still at large.
Nobody was arrested that night, but local authorities questioned Jones the day after the incident. It should be noted, however, that Jones has been arrested 10 times since his ’05 draft day. Felony vandalism, assault, violation of probation, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor for spitting in a woman’s face are all on Pacman’s off-field résumé.
Thanks to security footage from the club, latest reports may soon confirm that Jones did punch the stripper and bite Cudworth, although authorities are still looking into a DNA sample taken from Cudworth’s ankle to verify that Pacman was the biter.
What does Jones have to say about all of this? Well, he didn’t do anything wrong, of course. He was there, but he wasn’t involved. It wasn’t his fault that a man is now strapped to a wheelchair for the rest of his life or that a woman had to have a bullet removed from the back of her ear.
You know what? I’m sick of it. I’m sick of Pacman Jones. I’m sick of athletes getting away with beating women, shooting people or driving drunk. And most of all, I’m sick of these athletes not taking any accountability for their actions.
Anyone know what Pacman’s lawyer said after the incident? He said it was Nelly’s fault for “making it rain” and not Pacman’s. Ah, the “He Started It!” defense. Great! Case closed, I guess! Pacman, you can go home now because allegedly you didn’t start it, so of course you’re excused of anything you did during or after the altercation.
This is what I’m talking about: accountability. Some – and I want to make it clear when I say “some” – of these athletes are so coddled that they’ve forgotten what’s right and wrong. They can’t comprehend that playing a professional sport doesn’t give them the right to walk into a strip club and shoot three people because those individuals didn’t think it was right to punch a woman in the face.
We’re not talking about teenagers giving the middle finger to authority figures here either. These are grown men who obviously don’t know how to act like human beings. They get paid millions of dollars for playing a child’s game, yet they can’t go out on a Friday night without risking lives. For the life of me I’ll never understand how these athletes can’t argue with their girlfriends or wives without giving them a black eye. Or why a couple of single guys can’t go out without bringing their handguns or a trunk full of drugs.
Look at former NFL cornerback Ashley Ambrose who, right around the time Jones had the altercation in Vegas, got into an argument with his wife. She must have called him some pretty mean names because the coward had his brother hold her down while he kicked her in the ribs.
In the same week, Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Babineaux got into an argument with his girlfriend. Instead of beating her, he just waited until she went to the movies and killed her pit bull puppy. Of course, when police arrested him, he claimed that he was just teaching the dog a new trick. Hmm, must have been one hell of a trick considering Babineaux’s girlfriend rushed home to find the dog in “severe distress.” The dog puked blood while dying in the backseat of her car on the way to the vet.
Just recently, Jaguars’ defensive back Gerald Sensabaugh was handed the starting free safety position after former starter Deon Grant signed with Seattle. What does Sensabaugh do after the promotion? Well, get picked up for speeding while carrying a loaded pistol that he didn’t have a permit for, that’s what. Of course, it may in fact be good news that Sensabaugh sped so the cop that arrested him could find the loaded gun in his glove department, because there’s no telling what (or whom) that was intended for.
Maybe it’s because of their childhood, current self-insecurities or peer pressure that makes them act out. Maybe nobody ever sat them down and told them what a great privilege it is to play professional sports. I don’t know, I’m certainly not a psychologist. I don’t know what makes most people tick. I do know how to take accountability for my actions, though. And these players need to start doing the same because they’re not professional athletes for very long. In fact, most NFL players only play until around 35, so why muck up the short opportunity? Why tarnish your image, lose out on millions of dollars or, worse yet, severely hurt yourself or someone else?
In Pacman’s case, if he were even half a man he’d admit to what really happened that night so the people involved can try to put their lives back together. He might not have pulled the trigger and paralyzed Tom Urbanski, but I’m willing to bet he has an idea who did. It’s time for him to start taking accountability for his actions and stop letting his agent, lawyer or whoever else wipe his ass for him. The same goes for every athlete in any sport that allows a crime to happen or go unsolved because he doesn’t want to face the repercussions for his actions. These athletes are not bigger than the game or life itself, so please, own up to everything you do.
Everybody should take personal accountability for where they are in life and the decisions they’ve made to get there. Athletes like Pacman Jones shouldn’t be excused from that.
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