How Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones’ Off-Field Struggles Stained His NFL Legacy

When you hear the name Adam “Pacman” Jones, what immediately comes to mind? You may think of him as one of the NFL’s most notorious players, continually ending up in the news for negative reasons. What fewer people remember is that Jones was actually an incredibly gifted talent who never quite lived up to his massive potential. 

Jones is out of the league now, and unfortunately, his record of achievement will forever be tainted by the poor choices he made off the field. Let’s take a closer look at how Jones’ legacy has been stained by his off-field activities. 

Adam “Pacman” Jones’ NFL career overview

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The Tennessee Titans selected Jones with the sixth overall pick of the first round in the 2005 NFL Draft. Jones played college football at West Virginia University. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he proved why the team used such a high pick on him. 

As a cornerback, Jones had four interceptions and 23 passes defended in his first two years. He also dazzled on a kick and punt returner, returning four punts for touchdowns while amassing 1,618 kick return yards and 712 punt return yards. 

After serving a suspension in 2008 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy (more on that below), Jones returned with the Dallas Cowboys in 2009. He’d play in nine games, starting only six.

He was out of the NFL again for a season before returning with the Cincinnati Bengals. He’d play the next eight seasons in Cincinnati before finishing off his career with one year in Denver. 

Jones finished with the following accomplishments: 

  • 17 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns)
  • 97 passes defended
  • Seven forced fumbles
  • 509 combined tackles
  • One Pro-Bowl selection
  • One All-Pro selection

Jones never quite lived up to his early-career promise. But he’s more than a simple case of a talented player failing to live up to expectations. Jones’ had some powerful demons chasing him while he was in the NFL. 

A history of legal troubles

Jones’ legacy of embarrassing — and in some cases, illegal — behavior is a long one. Below are just a few examples

  • While a student-athlete at West Virginia, he beat a man with a pool cue.
  • There were multiple instances of Jones at a nightclub engaging in disorderly misconduct or outright assault. 
  • A 2007 incident at a Las Vegas strip club involving Jones after a shooting left a club bouncer paralyzed and one of the club’s dancers assaulted. This transgression got Jones suspended for a year and he was forced to pay $11 million in a civil lawsuit. 
  •  He once told a police officer who had pulled him over, “I hope you die tomorrow.”

What impact have these events had on Jones’ complicated legacy in the game? 

Adam “Pacman” Jones’ troubled legacy

Jones will always be remembered more for his troubles than he will for anything he did on the field. As a player, Jones was a talented, if not spectacular, defensive back. While he never fulfilled his pre-draft and college career hype, he certainly wasn’t bad by any means. But the overwhelming stigma surrounding Jones was about his off-field issues. 

Jones retired last year. Every write-up about his career made similar points — Jones was talented, but his issues and arrests garnered more attention than his play. When discussing Jones, it’s impossible to avoid the topic. Simply put, his actions were so bad and embarrassing that they dwarfed any other accomplishments he had. 

Sadly, that’s how he’ll be remembered. Jones always seemed troubled and could never seem to stay on track for long. Hopefully his post-retirement career will be less eventful than his off-field exploits during his playing days.