By JIM WYATT
Titans cornerback Pacman Jones has been suspended for the 2007 season by the National Football League.
Jones and Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry were suspended without pay for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and engaging in conduct detrimental to the league on numerous occasions, the league announced on Tuesday. Henry was suspended for eight games.
Efforts to reach attorneys Manny Arora and Worrick Robinson, who represent Jones, were not immediately successful.
The Titans issued a press release.
“We appreciate the Commissioner’s thoughtful decision today and the discipline plan imposed on Adam Jones. We respect this decision and are confident this is in the best interest of the League and the team,’’ Titans owner Bud Adams said in a statement. “We are hopeful that it will achieve the goals of disciplining the player and eventually enabling him to return to the field of play. Our goals for Jones are consistent with the League’s in that regard.’’
Jones met with Commissioner Roger Goodell last Tuesday, when his off-the-field behavior was discussed. Henry, who has also had a variety of run-ins with the law, also met with Goodell.
Jones’ suspension could mean roughly $3.1 million in lost wages. He was scheduled to make $1.29 million in base salary in 2007. The Titans are also expected to go after the prorated portion of his signing bonus, which would be another $1.81 million.
“We must protect the integrity of the NFL,” Goodell said in a statement. “The highest standards of conduct must be met by everyone in the NFL because it is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis.”
The penalty is costly for Jones, who has been involved in at least 10 off-field incidents since being picked by the Titans in the 2005 draft. It’s also costly for the Titans, one of the team’s top playmakers in 2006.
Last month, however, the Titans signed former Colts cornerback Nick Harper in the event Jones was suspended for a lengthy period. Harper is expected to start opposite second-year cornerback Reynaldo Hill, and the Titans will likely add more depth at cornerback in the upcoming draft.
According to a release from the NFL, in a letter sent to Jones and Henry, Goodell wrote: “Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league. You have put in jeopardy an otherwise promising NFL career, and have risked both your own safety and the safety of others through your off-field actions. In each of these respects, you have engaged in conduct detrimental to the NFL and failed to live up to the standards expected of NFL players. Taken as a whole, this conduct warrants significant sanction.”
The NFL said Jones will be strictly monitored by the Titans and the NFL during the suspension as part of his opportunity to earn reinstatement through adherence to a set of conditions.
His status will be reviewed after the Titans’ 10th regular-season game to determine the extent to which he has complied with the conditions and whether the suspension should be affected by the disposition of any pending or prospective charges.
According to the NFL release, Jones must:
—Fully cooperate with all required counseling, education, and treatment assigned under league or court-ordered programs.
—He must adhere to the restrictions on his activities that have been agreed to by he and the Titans.
—He may not be at the Titans’ facility through May 31 and may not participate in any practices or organized workouts during the term of the suspension. Beginning June 1, he must visit the team facility once each week to meet with the team’s player development director. Also, beginning June 1, he is permitted to spend one day a week at the team facility for conditioning, film study, and other similar activities.
—In conjunction with the team’s player development director and other professionals working with him, Jones must develop with the Titans a structured program of community service or other activity. This program must be submitted to the league office for review and approval.
Jones and Henry were told that any failure to comply with these conditions will result in additional discipline, including possible banishment from the league.
“I must emphasize to you that this is your last opportunity to salvage your NFL career,” Goodell wrote to Jones and Henry. “I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you in that effort.”
There is a pending case against Jones in Las Vegas, where police say he started the melee that led to a triple shooting at a strip club on Feb. 19.
The police recommended the district attorney file felony coercion, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor threat to life charges against Jones, but the case remains under investigation. Jones also has pending obstruction of police charge in the state of Georgia stemming from a 2006 arrest.
Jones was suspended by the Titans for one game last season.
According to the release issued by the Titans, Jones will have to earn his acceptance back from the team.
“We are one team among 32 in a league that has collectively bargained with its players on a number of issues. One of those issues is discipline and the Commissioner has far greater discretion and power in matters of discipline than individual clubs. This level of corrective action is simply not available to the team, and we made the conscious decision to defer to the Commissioner’s action with respect to the League’s Conduct Policy. We also believe that any suspension by the Commissioner has ramifications to the player’s contract status and can be dealt with by the team in due course,’’ Adams said in a statement.
“Unfortunately this decision does not end our deliberations about this player for our team. We will need assurances from the player on a number of issues before we are comfortable having him return to the team. Until we see a change in behavior through his actions and until he shows the ability to avoid controversy off the field, we will move forward with the possibility that he may not return to this team.
“We feel that the future for Jones rests with him, his ability to meet the standards required by the League and the team, and his effort to earn back trust from the organization, teammates, the NFL and the fans. Only if he meets these guidelines will he be allowed to return to the team.”