|Before Roger Goodell meets with Pacman Jones, maybe another visit is in order|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 20 October 2007 10:12|
It's not much, just one of many used mostly by businessmen and tourists in town for extended stays. No one is going to put it on a must-see list alongside the fountains at the Bellagio or the canals at the Venetian.
But it should be the first place Roger Goodell visits next month when he starts debating whether to allow Pacman Jones to play in the NFL again.
He'll find Urbanski in his ground-floor room in a wheelchair, all 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds of him. He'll be able to see for himself what a bullet did to the real estate salesman and club manager whose phone message still tells a caller they've reached their ``Real Estate Bodyguard.''
And he can decide for himself what kind of man he wants playing in the league he is charged with protecting.
Maybe then the odds will drop on Jones playing to, say, 3 to 6 percent. Those are the same odds that Urbanski is given of ever walking again.
``I've got about a two-year window for that to happen,'' Urbanski says. ``If I'm going to walk again it's got to happen within 18 months to two years from now.''
Urbanski is beginning to come to terms with the stark reality of his future, which changed tragically in the early morning hours of Feb. 19 at a strip club not far from the city's glittering casinos. He's got no real choice because every morning he wakes up needing help to take care of things we take for granted, like being able to dress ourselves or shave.
Urbanski had been working as a manager at the Minxx Gentleman's Club for less than three weeks before that fateful morning, taking the gig as a second job to his real estate career so his wife could quit her teaching job and go to law school.
It was NBA All-Star weekend and the club had been rented out by the Harlem Knights, a Houston strip club, for a VIP bash.
And Pacman Jones was in the house.
His posse was with him, as always, including the guy in the baggy black T-shirt and blue jeans who sat next to him. Things got nasty at one point when Jones showered dancers on stage with handfuls of bills from a black plastic trash bag, an act in street parlance called ``making it rain.''
Two dancers began fighting over the money, and Jones allegedly grabbed one by the hair and punched her. Police said he then tried to hit club employees attempting to intervene and threatened to kill them.
Jones and his posse were tossed from the club, and witnesses told police he was seen gesturing as if he had a gun. He walked away with the man who had been next to him in the club, and minutes later police said a man wearing a baggy black T-shirt and blue jeans stood next to a palm tree and fired five or six shots.
Urbanski was standing outside, and one of the bullets tore into his spine. He was paralyzed from an inch above his belly button on down.
``It's going to take a little more getting used to,'' Urbanski said of his new reality. ``But I'm really happy to be alive. I thank God for that every day.''
Urbanski filed a lawsuit Friday against Jones, the Tennessee Titans and the NFL, claiming they're responsible for his injuries. The suit claims Jones, who faces two felony charges stemming from the fracas, knows who the shooter is and that the NFL should have disciplined him sooner.
The suit is a long shot, but so is Urbanski's struggle to walk again. The NFL says it can't be held responsible, while Jones' attorney says his client doesn't know who the gunman is.
Urbanski finds that hard to believe.
``I know he knows who the shooter is,'' Urbanski said. ``Everybody who worked in the bar that night can tell you the shooter was sitting next to Pacman Jones all night long.''
Urbanski tries not to dwell on the night his life was changed forever. He's trying to stay positive, putting all his energy into his recovery.
He's at the hotel while his home is being remodeled for a wheelchair. He has a part-time attendant to help care for him, and his wife, Kathy, is always there.
He wants to walk again more than anything. He also wants the shooter caught.
And he can't help being bitter.
``I am,'' he said. ``Nothing constructive can come out of that, but absolutely I am.''
Jones, meanwhile, wants to play football again. He plans to meet with Goodell later this month to try and have his suspension cut to 10 games so he can play this year.
Unfortunately, Goodell won't be meeting with Urbanski first. No one from the NFL has contacted him since the shooting, and it's not likely they will now that Urbanski is suing them.
But if Jones is serious about playing again, the first condition of his return should be he tells everything he knows about that night, and everything about the posse member sitting next to him in the baggy black T-shirt.
He needs to quit hiding behind his lawyers, do the right thing and help bring the gunman to justice.
Failing that, he should play in the NFL about the same time Tommy Urbanski walks again.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org