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adam “pacman” jones- picking up the pieces

adam “pacman” jones- picking up the pieces

photo by steed media service

Defensive Back, Tennessee Titans

On
a sweltering July afternoon in Lithonia, Ga., 20 boys ages 8 to 16
participated in a football camp conducted by legendary high school
coach, Oscar Dillard. As the future NFL hopefuls learned the
fundamentals of running, catching and receiving, Adam “Pacman” Jones
stood quietly on the sidelines as coach Dillard yelled instructions to
his star pupils in the making. Jones, who played under Dillard while a
student at Westlake High School in Atlanta, seemed intrigued by the
familiarity.

Jones smiled
slightly, perhaps remembering a simpler time in his own life when he
was as carefree as the youngsters he was watching. Since being drafted
by the Tennessee Titans with the eighth overall pick in 2005, Jones has
been involved in several off-the-field incidents that have tarnished
his once-promising professional career. The most infamous incident
occurred on Feb. 19 when Jones decided to celebrate NBA All-Star
Weekend at Club Minxx with rappers Nelly, JD, Remy Ma, and boxer Zab
Judah.

Although details of what really happened on that night are still
sketchy, the celebratory night ended with a club security guard being
shot and paralyzed. NFL commissioner Roger Godell eventually suspended
Jones for the entire 2007 season. Now with several pending cases and
months of idle time on his hands, Jones must figure out where it all
went wrong.

“I think the money was the difference for me,” Jones says. “Coming from
the inner city, I never really had anything. But when I signed my [NFL]
contract, I could afford things and I could buy 15 cars and $3,000
worth of jewelry. Being young, I had to learn how to control my money,
slow down and watch who was around me.” Jones, who was raised in one of
the roughest areas in Atlanta, has remained friends with many of the
people he grew up with. “I was used to hang with 15 or 20 people
whenever I went out,” he says. “When I’m with 15 guys, one may get into
a fight and everything comes back on me. If you’re a big fish in a
small pond, they come after the big fish.”

With his NFL career in jeopardy, Jones believes that telling kids his
story will encourage them to make the correct decisions in life. “I
tell kids that they have to pick their friends wisely,” he says. “I
can’t hang around my best friends because they want to be on the block
and then come hang with me. Things happen fast. Where you are and who
you are with can mess up your future.” – amir shaw