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Pac-Man & The Bengals: Business As Usual

I can't help but laugh at the reaction fans give to the Bengals signing troubled players. It's a very Pavlovian process to me. Player is arrested and disgraced, has trouble finding work, signs with the Bengals, and the public goes ape shit. Then, five months later, troubled player does well, public forgets about troubled past and are just pleased that games are won. Then, player gets in trouble again, public goes ape shit and degrades the Bengals for signing troubled player.

When will we accept that the Bengals business model is to buy damaged goods and make the best of it? You're either on board with this or you aren't. Remember Cedric Benson? Tank Johnson? These men were marked with the "trouble" stamp too, but now are invaluable to the Bengals' success and, by all appearances, have become upstanding citizens who most of us would call good guys.

Never was this fan hypocrisy more prevalent than with the late Chris Henry. This youngster seemed impossibly brainless off the field; constantly resurfacing in criminal activity. Each time it happened, the whole world—even Henry's coach—renounced him as a Grade-A dirt bag and wanted no part of him anymore. Yet the only man that mattered to Slim's fate was undeterred by No. 15's irresponsible decision-making and gave him countless opportunities; that of course is Mike Brown. Once Henry suited up on Sunday we loved him—needed him. Once he broke his arm, then tragically died, the team was faced with a sizable hole in its offense and went to work replacing him with not only a hot-headed receiver, Antonio Bryant, but also a cocaine-possessing receiver, Matt Jones.

The trend is here to stay, even if you, the fans, aren't. That being said, why should Pac-Man Jones be any different? Of course he would land in Cincinnati; it's the natural progression of this kind of thing.

I agree that Pac's rap sheet is fairly harrowing. He is drawn to strip-clubs, feels he needs guns around him, and is prone to violent outbursts. He is the link between matches and gasoline. Without much knowledge of the man personally, I'd venture to say that he is a person who feels disrespected easily. We've all known these guys; they take everything anyone says or does very, very personally. Typically, they experience multiple setbacks based on this trait. That is why I feel it is only a matter of time before Mr. Jones' dark side strikes again.

But until then, he will play football, and will do so with stripes on his helmet. From a football standpoint, there isn't that much to get excited about. Considering he has missed more games than he's played in his career, he has really only posted one good season way back in 2006. He hasn't played in two years, wasn't necessarily eye-popping with Dallas before he blew it again, and the Bengals have four corners who are both better than Pac-Man and far more vital to the team's long-term success at the position. I'm shocked to find myself agreeing with the curmudgeonly Paul Daugherty on this issue, but I too would be surprised if he even makes the final cut. If that is to happen, Jones must wow the coaching staff in camp; it's certainly possible, but at this time, I'm calling it a long-shot.

The point is, if he does perform well this season, all the naysayers and grumblers who didn't like the idea will once more feel fine about the modus operandi the Bengals follow when filling out their roster. They are a small-market team maintained by an old miserly scrooge. He won't pay a lot for anything other than No. 9, so he takes his chances on high-risk investments and hopes for the best. I know it's a tough pill to swallow—we want good guys on our favorite team—but this hiring characters of dubious moral fiber is the way the Bengals stay competitive. It could be a case of the old saying "Nice guys finish last", who knows?

Mojokong—easy rule to live by: never go to a strip club for lunch.