The rap sheet on cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones is legendary in NFL circles. Since being drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2005, Jones has been arrested at least eight times, in addition to several other documented incidents. He was in turn suspended for 22 games from 2007 to 2008, including all of the ’07 season.
After failing to land on an NFL roster in 2009, the Bengals, notorious for bringing in troubled-but-talented players on the cheap, signed him prior to the 2010 campaign. He’s remained on the roster ever since. Despite a couple of missteps since coming to town—including an assault charge last season, of which he was ultimately found not guilty—the perpetual second chances seem to have finally paid off for Jones. Along with a little help from his daughters.
“I’m more mature now. I live for my girls and not just for myself,” says Jones, alluding to 8-year-old Zaniyah and 3-year-old Triniti. “I try to keep that in mind and make sure I’m not doing anything to jeopardize our happiness.”
Teammates have seen the same thing. “Anytime you bring kids into the picture, that forces your hand a little bit, in a good way,” says fellow cornerback Leon Hall, who’s been with the Bengals for Jones’s entire tenure. “I think he’s taken on that responsibility and grown with it. And when you grow like that, it definitely crosses over into football.”
It explains why, statistically, the last two seasons have been Jones’s best on the gridiron: He’s getting better with age, both on and off the field. “I know the defense in and out. I’m more technique-sound at this point,” says Jones. “I’m comfortable with the defense, the surroundings, love my teammates, love the people upstairs. I feel like this is a good situation.”
He’s also aware that regardless of the changes he’s made in his life, that troubled past will be tough to shake. And that’s fine. He’s not trying to forget it, either. “I always mentally visit the past so I don’t end up back there,” says Jones. “I just try to keep my head up and treat people the way I want to be treated. And get my ass in the house.”