Adam "PacMan" Jones became synonymous with "troubled youth" soon after entering the NFL in 2005. Jones began his troublesome NFL career with a contract holdout and followed it with a nightclub fight, drug charge, involvement in a strip club shooting, and eventually a one year suspension from the league. No player better represented the stereotypical thug athlete so many choose to detest.
But after an opportunity at redemption given to him by the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones now represents a changed soul, a man who has realized the error of his ways. He's dropped the criminal enoturage. He's dropped the nickname "PacMan". In his eyes, he is a changed man.
As the man who's experienced everything one wants to avoid in the NFL, Adam Jones understands it is now his duty to share his lessons. That is why he asked to speak at the Rookie Symposium. And while his speech was not filmed, Jones had the following to say in an interview to NFL.com after his presentation:
"I wouldn't want any of those guys to go through what I've gone through," Jones told NFL.com "It's not fun being on the news everyday for this mistake or that mistake because your boy did this or you did that. At the end of the day, my oldest girl is six right now, and she can read. She can type my name into a computer. You don't want her to see all of those negative things."
Rookies should heed Jones' words but they need look no further than a newspaper or twitter feed to see the consequences of one's poor choices. Ten days ago, five years and a life conversion removed from the incident, Jones was ordered to pay more than $11 million in damages for his role in a strip club shooting. That is approximately $10 million more than he will make in 2012.
"If I could tell them anything, I just want them to realize this is a business. When you sign your contract, you are the head CEO of your company. The Adam Jones Company -- whatever it is. We can't go running down a field for the rest of our life.
"Every decision you make is critical. It might not get you now. But it will get you later."
Adam Jones' past behavior was an ugly mark on his personal reputation and the face of the NFL. Hopefully the message was sent loud and clear to incoming rookies. No night on the town is worth becoming what "PacMan" Jones once was.