I've been a dedicated fan of professional football since I was a kid. I have the "premium" satellite football package and I've had seats for Tennessee Titans games since they first came to Nashville. So you can probably guess what I'll be doing this weekend. Like a lot of other fans, I'll be listening to draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., as the NFL draft plays out in New York.
This year, though, the process of player selection has taken a decidedly political turn. You might even think it was taking place in Washington DC, with the league scolding teams for leaking personal information about prospective players, such as admissions of marijuana use. There have even been reports that top draft picks have been tailed for weeks by private detectives looking for signs of character flaws.
The backstory for this new focus on off-field behavior, of course, is the disastrous public relations season the NFL had last year. So let me turn my attention for a moment from more pleasant topics, like how great Vince Young will be with a year under his helmet, to ask the league brass a few questions.
Here's one. Why do these teams keep drafting players with character defects you can see at 100 yards in the dark with your back turned?
To use a phrase increasingly familiar to NFL players: Your honor, I give you "Exhibit A" -- in this case, one Adam "Pacman" Jones, the sixth overall pick of the 2005 draft. Pacman plays (or did play) cornerback for the Titans. Watching him return a punt through tacklers was like trying to watch a bullet ricochet. As a wag once said about a young baseball player: He can turn out the light and be in bed before it's dark.
Unfortunately, Pacman seems to think his talent entitles him to behave like one of Tony Soprano's cousins. In his brief career, he's probably already cost the Titans games with his "look at me" celebrations and cheap-shot penalties. His on-field behavior, though, is a model of decorum compared to what he's done off the field -- including reports of assault (twice), disorderly conduct, vandalism, marijuana possession and taking a swing at a police officer.
Fred Thompson has been a lawyer, actor and United States Senator. He writes exclusive analysis and commentary for Townhall Magazine.
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