In the wake of the big-picture issues the NFL has faced in successive weekends, more attention has been paid to the programs put in place by the league to protects its players.
Less focus, however, has been put on the role of individual responsibility, and players’ willingness to take advantage of them.
With the league still reeling from Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shooting his girlfriend and then himself, followed by the death of Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown in an car wreck which resulted in the arrest of teammate Josh Brent on intoxication manslaughter charges, the problems continue to pile up.
And when the question becomes whether the league can prevent any of these problems, few are more qualified to talk about it than Bengals cornerback Adam Jones.
“I think the league does a great job offering resources. We just don’t use them,” the artist formerly known as Pacman told Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com. “I know I didn’t use mine when I was younger.
“This happens to a lot of young guys who come into the league. The first four years happen so fast, you never really get to catch up and realize the resources you have.”
Jones had a record when he was drafted, and piled up four arrests in his first two seasons, along with an incident when a member of his party was charged with attempted murder for a shooting at a strip club (for which Jones was found liable for $11.6 million in damages by a Nevada jury this year).
Jones has even become a speaker at the league’s rookie symposium, and said now that he’s 29 years old, he’s learned to take advantage of the amount of help he was offered, such as the Bengals safe-ride program when he goes out for a drink.
“A bunch of guys use it,” Jones said. “If I have over two drinks, I’m gonna use it. I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get back to where I’m at that I refuse to let a lack of judgment after two drinks affect that. I’d rather call 3-2-1 RIDE.
“This didn’t come overnight. It took a while to trust and believe and really just wise up that this was put here by the team to help you and not because they were trying to see what you were doing or why you were drunk or why you had this-many drinks.
“You have to put that aside. It’s not easy to do.”
If Adam Jones learned, there aren’t many excuses for the rest of the league. But his realistic assessment of why the programs aren’t used more often are more of a concern, and point to the truth that the league can’t reach everyone no matter how many programs are in place.