Sunday, March 4, 2007
Waka Waka Waka
The NFL’s hand may finally be forced regarding off field player behavior, thanks to Tennessee DB Adam “Pacman” Jones. The second year player, who has a history of run-ins with the law, may have finally crossed the line a few weekends ago. You have no doubt by now heard about the strip club incident, the latest in a long line of legal problems for Jones. Though he didn’t pull the trigger, he could easily be seen as the one responsible for the end result.
Where should the blame be placed? Let’s look at some of the suspects:
Hip Hop Culture
Easy to target, but hard to change. The rampant materialism that has engulfed hip hop over the past few years isn’t totally new, but the degree to which the narcissism of rap has escalated is indeed troubling. While the majority of the artists come from poorer backgrounds, making the pursuit of wealth understandable, the whole get rich or die trying mentality mostly leads down empty roads. No wonder groups like Public Enemy are considered passé by today’s rappers. Employing a strong social conscience while eschewing the trappings of fame (“gold brains, not gold chains” as Chuck D used to say) runs directly opposite the mentality of rappers in 2007. The fact that Pacman and his crew were basically re-enacting a scene from a hip hop video displaying pure displays of wealth sprinkled with misogyny shows the impact of the culture on young people who suddenly have too much money on their hands. Now, get the hell off my lawn you damn kids.
The league has had the perception of running a very tight ship over the years, but a closer look shows that may not be the case. Compare the revelations of steroid use in the NFL with that of Major League Baseball – football doles out a four game suspension and moves on, while baseball contemplates the destruction of all that we know to be good and pure. The bottom line has always been how much can a player do for us on the field, off field behavior be damned. While there is a limit to how much control the league can exhibit over off the field actions, it is clear that some action needs to be taken. In the past year alone, we’ve seen multiple arrests of members of the Cincinnati Bengals, the whole Tank Johnson fiasco, and now Pacman. Compare these examples with you, and your job. Would you still be employed if you were arrested? Most likey not.
I don’t have the answer, but since there are some powerful, smart minds working in the NFL offices, I’m sure they can develop some kind of system that rewards good behavior while punishing the bad apples that only server to wreck the reputation of the league. Get on that, Mr. Goddell.
The Tennessee Titans
Drafting Jones involved dealing with the existing baggage, as he already had a pretty decent rap sheet before draft day. The risks taken by the Titans were big, as Jones received first round money. Had they passed on him, he would have been snapped up pretty quickly by one of the next teams on the clock, so they bit the bullet and made the choice. Now, the downside of the risk is being realized, as they stand to lose an impact player. Look, I understand the NFL is a business, and most teams probably have the attitude that they can help change the behavior of a player once he becomes involved with their system. That might be true in some cases, but it’s very obvious that Jones hasn’t matured one iota since going pro. Should any action be handed down which involves a suspension, it is the Titans that will pay the big price, but they knew the risks going in.
What? Holding an adult responsible for his actions you say? Impossible, especially in today’s culture!
Nobody is more responsible for the problems of Pacman Jones more than Pacman Jones. He has been given an amazing gift, as his play on the field is truly exciting to watch. His impact on the Titans in 2006, coupled with the emergence if QB Vince Young, has made Tennessee one of the teams to watch in 2007. His inability to control his impulses off the field, running with the wrong crowd, hanging out at the wrong places, etc. are all decisions he made, not anyone else. It has to be difficult to be handed a pile of money at a younger age, but that is not an excuse as hundreds of other players have been put in the same situation and not seen the need to shower strippers with money that assault them when they tried to pick it up. Will this latest incident be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back? Don’t know, but if it isn’t, either the NFL or the legal system will make sure he gets the message eventually.