I Just Can’t Seem to Get over It

When I moved to this wonderful city in Spring of 1999, I fell immediately in love with the Tennessee Titans. I had been a lifelong Atlanta Falcons fan and was not one to switch allegiances arbitrarily. My years in Georgia thread back to the Hail Mary days of Steve Bartkowski, Alfred Jackson, and Alfred Jenkins. The rough and tumble days of Jeff Van Note, Fulton Kuykendall, and Buddy Curry. I was an Oilers fan as well–Dan Pastorini and Earl Campbell thrilled me. But Atlanta was my team up to and including the days of Jeff Chandler having his ass handed to him every other play.

However, watching the Titans suffer their way through brutal summer two-a-days on a makeshift practice field adjacent to Bellevue Center, I experienced a shift. In general, my loyalty is unshakable. That summer though, as Bruce Matthews, Frank Wycheck, Steve McNair, and company manhandled their collective way through pre-season practice, my loyalty was shaken. Coach Jeff Fisher–the face of the Titans for me–elicited then (and now) a respect I reserve for few people. His leadership skills were unparalleled. He radiated class–an attribute long displaced in the NFL. So then and there, my beloved Falcons fell to number two on the depth chart for the first time in the 20 plus years I’d been a serious fan. I was proud to now call the Titans “my team.” As the team moved its headquarters to MetroCenter, I was giddy as a schoolboy on summer break to see a McNair at McDonalds, a Brad Hopkins or Benji Olson at Jersey Mike’s, Coach Fisher on a morning run through the business park. And seven years later my affection runs deep still.

But along the way there was a glitch. One year ago, the Titans organization (the one that, to my thinking had dwarfed all others), did the unthinkable–or at the very least, the unreasonable. They drafted an overrated young man bereft of character named Adam “Pacman” Jones with their number one pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

As evidenced by his behavior both on and off the field (prior to be being drafted and from the very moment he set foot in Music City), Jones is the most undisciplined, selfish player in a generation. Forget Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. While they aren’t worthy of consideration in a discussion of class or loyalty, they at least possess a tangible skill set. Some pundits speak of Pacman’s “potential.” I say he has no potential beyond being another crime statistic. He has speed? There are a dozen prospects in the 2006 NFL draft alone who can match his speed. On the rare occasion that he finished a play last season, he inevitably self-destructed during the following one. Some players are possessed of such skill that their play outshadows their off-field indiscretions. Pacman does not fall within this category. His off-field persona accompanies him on the field and that simply won’t do. He has attacked businessmen, fans, players, officials, even his own staff. He appears to be a classless individual on a team that once prided itself on class above all else. Most of us go a lifetime without being mentioned in a police report. This guy, apparently, cannot go a full news cycle. Most recently his name and vehicle popped up in a large drug investigation; a week later, he was at the scene of a “shots fired” event. There is simply more at work here than bad luck and poor timing,

Pac is into the Titans for a figure reported to be somewhere between $13.1 and $15.1 million of sucker money. For that alone I congratulate him and give him credit for his business savvy. It’s just a shame it had to come at the expense of making a mockery out of my football team. The money invested dictates that Pacman will continue to play. And that is also a shame. But it is business and I understand. And while the Titans appear to have returned to their roots of recruiting and signing decent, upstanding players during the off-season (David Thornton, Kevin Mawae, and David Givens), don’t look for their influence to spread to Mr. Jones. If the respected Coach Fisher and GM Floyd Reese cannot rein him in, then simply put, he is unreinable, a petulant child in a man-suit.

The learning curve in the NFL is short. After playing the better part of a season, Pacman proved he is not willing to learn at all.

Again, he will play this season. Sadly, the Titans cannot afford not to play him. If he survives a drive-by shooting of his own orchestration between now and the season opener, he will likely make a few nice plays for the Titans. And, out of respect for the organization, I will cheer as loud as the next guy. But the knowledge that the following defensive series will feature an illegal hit, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, or dropped interception will no doubt temper my enthusiasm. This is not mere negative posturing by a disappointed fan. It is a foregone conclusion of events to come put into play every time Adam Jones steps onto the playing field.

For some reason, I just can’t seem to get over it.

2 Comments so far

  1. Bo Link (unregistered) on May 1st, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

    I’m afraid we may have made this whole Pacman situation worse by drafting Lendale White this year. I have a feeling that those two might get along too well. I don’t know if the city of Nashville can take a 1-2 punch like that.

  2. Phyllis (unregistered) on May 20th, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

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