Adam Jones and former Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson hijacked Monday from our grasps, reverting a planned day to further promote the Cincinnati Bengals best plays in 2012. And of all the conjecture and supposition, here's the simplest reality; both gentlemen could have easily avoided all of this.
Adam Jones engages in a conversation with a woman at a local bar, following a Cincinnati Reds game last Wednesday night. Stop. Yes, everyone should have a right to enjoy themselves and all of that jazz. Jones willingly placing himself at a bar just begs for trouble. He's changed, sure. But the same thing happened two offseasons ago and Jones was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Seriously. Stay. Away. From. Bars.
At some point during the "discussion", the woman approaches Jones with a bottle still in her hand. Clearly the conversation provides the most context, which, save for witnesses and the two involved, is unknown. Jones claims that the woman wanted his picture and he denied the request. It was at this point that Jones and his agent Peter Schaffer claim when the woman "threw" a beer bottle.
The leaked video of the incident didn't show that. If anything it appeared that she approached Jones to give him a Budweiser bath. Regardless, Jones wasn't taking any chances and aggressively retaliated.
Charged with assault for punching a female patron at a downtown bar, Jones turned himself in on Monday and was released soon after. Making matters worse was an interview with ESPN 1530. Once Jones realized that host Mo Egger wasn't going to give Jones a free forum to defend himself publicly without being asked questions that most people were wondering, the call ended abruptly.
We'll never criticize someone for defending themselves and Jones may have felt threatened enough to do so. Additionally, the surveillance video that was released is horrible. Not only does distance and people obstruct the view, the overall quality of the camera is so grainy that there are multiple accounts of people seeing different things; if that's the case with a video, then it's a bad video. Perhaps that's just a matter of interpretation, trying to find fault with Jones or the woman. Who knows.
Granted, as one commenter wrote somewhere, this never happens if not for the woman's actions. True. The situation also never happens if Jones stops placing himself in these situations, or applies the maturity that he's been promoting for the past three years. Jones' lack of awareness once again fails to recognize an escalating situation that he should have immediately removed himself from. A metal railing sits between Jones and the woman. Why he didn't just back off is beyond me.
In the end, blame should be shared. If the legal system had a rule for off-setting fouls, we have a feeling that this would already be over. Things were obviously said that made Jones feel that he was placed in danger. But in reality he should have backed off, called it a night and gone home to his family. This was completely avoidable.
Chad Johnson's case is different. Appearing in court on Monday to answer a charge for violating his probation, a plea agreement was reportedly struck. At some point Johnson gave a sportsman-like slap on his lawyer's behind, which actually generated laughter in the courtroom. The Judge was not amused, rejected the plea deal, sending Johnson to jail for 30 days and then adding another three months to his probation.
If you've never observed a hearing in a courtroom that you're not personally involved with (either as a plaintiff, defendant or as support of either), every red blooded American knows that when walking into a courtroom, you show complete respect and humility. It's not a forum to revitalize the good-natured persona we've known for over a decade. Now his actions have cost.
Saying that the judge over-reacted might be justified. But in reality, adding blame to her is misplaced. If a judge feels that the courtroom chuckles are directed at her, or that Johnson isn't realizing the gravity of his situation by showing some humility, then she's going to grandstand. Johnson shouldn't have done it. Maybe he'd have his freedom today if he just set aside that persona for an hour on Monday.