By Ashley Munson
It’s been announced that Adam Jones, who is more commonly known as ‘Pacman’ is retiring from football at the age of 35. A lot will be made of his off the field antics, but we want to forget about that for today – for the most part – and instead take a trip down memory lane to think about his playing career.
Way back in 2002, Jones was a young freshman lining up for West Virginia and went on to do so on 11 occasions. The next year he nailed down his place and was ever present throughout the campaign where his performance levels earned him a call up to the All Big East Conference.
Things got better and better for Jones as time progressed at college and another year on and he was vice captain and setting an example on the field as he led the side in interceptions and tackles. By the time his career at West Virginia was over he’d ensured his name was well and truly marked in the school’s history books.
In 2005 Jones put himself forward for the NFL draft and was quickly snapped up by the Tennessee Titans as he became the first defensive pick in the draft. Even with his professional career very much in the juvenile stage, non-football related activities started to rear their heads leading to question marks over his mentality; everything was swiftly forgotten as he was one of just two inexperienced cornerbacks to start in 10 or more matches – the other was Reynaldo Hill.
Jones’ game really came into it’s own during his second year with the Titans as he established himself as one of the best up and coming talents in the NFL but the hype soon got dampened when he was suspended for 12 months, for what was described as a breach of the player conduct code. People handle setbacks differently, but Jones seemed unfazed as he kept busy whilst away from the sport.
By the time his suspension had ran Tennessee had had enough and it emerged that they were open to trade. Despite the negative coverage there was a queue for his services and Jones penned a deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones got his Cowboys career off to a solid start turning in good displays during the opening matches but a neck injury, which he attempted to play through, kept him out of action until the last game of the season – a game that would prove to be his last for Dallas. It was announced they were looking to move Jones on, once again, the reasoning was nothing to do with his football ability.
On leaving Dallas, Jones looked set for a move to Canada with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers but the deal was pulled from under him due to a lack of commitment that stemmed from a leak showing Jones failing to call the league – the Canadian Football League – by its correct name.
Jones was in danger of becoming just another wasted talent but in 2010 he found somewhere to call home – Cincinnati. Jones appeared focused on his football for a change and his early performances as a kick returner were earning him high praise, but another neck injury saw him ruled out for an extended period. The Bengals were pleased with his contribution and in 2013 he signed a three-year extension – the first contract renewal of his career.
The following year proved to be Jones’ standout season as he earned a place in the 2014 All-Pro team as the first team return specialist. The next season saw media coverage turn back towards off field indiscretions, but Jones remained with the Bengals until 2018 although his contribution heavily reduced during his last year before he was allowed to move on.
He attempted to get his career going again with the Denver Broncos but only featured seven times, which might explain their below average defensive stats as detailed by Americas line NFL. Regardless, Jones was a free agent, and, on this occasion, he called time on his career.
A 14-year football career might have come to an end, but it seems unlikely that we’ve heard the last of ‘Pacman’. Regardless of what reports might surface just remember, even if he never fulfilled his potential, he was a damn good player, and nothing can take that away.