|Williams is an easy call for reinstatement, but Pacman will be tougher|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2007 14:31|
Ricky Williams is getting another chance to play in the NFL, which presumably means he hasn't been lighting up lately. Pacman Jones hopes for another chance, which means any community service he's planning in Las Vegas won't be done in an outreach program at one of the local topless clubs.|
Williams got in trouble because he liked to hit the bong instead of the line. Jones' playing privileges were suspended partly because he liked to cover strippers with dollar bills as much as he enjoyed covering wide receivers.
You can't lump them together as NFL bad boys because their offenses were strikingly different. Williams hurt no one but himself, while Jones, at best, was an integral part of a scene that ended with a man being forced to live the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
The one thing they do have in common is that both bring a lot of baggage to any team that wants them back.
The Dolphins likely will end up with Williams again because they're 0-9, in desperate need of someone who might be able to make a play, and don't have anything to lose by giving Williams a uniform. The worst that can happen is the drug rehab doesn't stick, he tests positive again, and a lousy team remains lousy.
Jones is another story. He's got issues that go far beyond those that trouble Williams, and he's got no guarantee either the NFL or the Tennessee Titans will welcome his return.
Jones is doing his best to force the league and the team to make a decision, beginning with an appearance Thursday in a Las Vegas courtroom where he is expected to plead guilty to the odd charge of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct. The charge is a gross misdemeanor, but Jones will stay out of jail under terms of a plea bargain.
Assuming that happens - and Jones clears up his legal issues in other jurisdictions - it will be up to commissioner Roger Goodell to decide if he has earned the right to play in the NFL again. With one set of charges out of the way, Jones will have a better case for reinstatement than the one rejected by Goodell earlier this month.
It probably won't happen until next year, but at some point Goodell might be backed into a corner and allow Jones back in. Then it becomes a question of whether the Titans - or any other team in the NFL - still want him.
When the Titans weigh that decision, they might think about Tommy Urbanski, the club manager and former pro wrestler who is paralyzed from the waist down. He was shot in the melee that followed Jones' ejection from the Minxx Gentlemen's Club in February and led to the charges against him.
Jones claims he doesn't know what happened that night, doesn't know who shot Urbanski. And unless police accidentally stumble upon the shooter, there's not much chance Jones will have to testify against him.
That, says Urbanski's wife, is not fair.
``If he's not going to implicate anyone, I'm going to be absolutely furious. I really am sick of it,'' Kathy Urbanski said. ``I just hope the victims have rights in this situation. Obviously, the criminals do.''
No one is saying Jones shot Urbanski. And Las Vegas police obviously didn't have much of a case against him or prosecutors wouldn't have made him such a sweetheart deal.
It seems clear the reason they charged Jones was to try to squeeze the name of the gunman out of him, an effort that seems to have come up short.
There is, however, a difference between behavior that convicts in court and behavior that convicts in the NFL. Unlike prosecutors, Goodell and the Titans don't have to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.
To Goodell's credit, his get-tough policy seems to be working around the league. Players have gotten the message through suspensions and warnings that playing in the NFL is a privilege and they've pretty much straightened out their act this year.
The way the Cincinnati Bengals are playing may be a crime, but unlike last year they're not being arrested by the handful. Meanwhile, Chris Henry is back in uniform, and Tank Johnson is quietly trying to work his way into shape in Dallas.
Goodell is now giving Williams what likely will be his last chance, and there shouldn't be much of an outcry.
Letting Williams back into the league wasn't a tough decision.
Figuring out what to do with Jones will be.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org
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