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Chances are...

Fans give the Cincinnati Bengals chance after chance to produce a season worth cheering. And the Bengals seem just as willing to give players with off-field problems chance after chance.

Let’s just hope team officials know when to say enough is enough.

On Friday, the team signed wide receiver Matt Jones to a one-year contact. Sure, the Bengals need to strengthen their wide receiver corps after T.J. Houshmandzadeh left for Seattle and Chris Henry died unfortunately. Quarterback Carson Palmer would certainly benefit if the speedy Jones can stretch the field like Henry.

But the free agent Jones has more to overcome than shaking off pesky defensive backs. He was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in March 2009 after a series of issues: an arrest for felony possession of a controlled substance, a suspension by the NFL for three games in 2008, and violating the terms of his plea deal.

At this point, we’ll have to see if Jones’ year out of the league has helped focus on his game…his on-the-field game, that is.

But there was also the shocking news reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Bengals also worked out cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones. The former Titan and Cowboy is essentially the NFL poster boy for bad behavior with his long list of legal issues, culminating in the infamous Las Vegas strip club shooting.

My stomach sank when I first heard the news. The Bengals seemed to have shed most of their laughingstock national reputation with their gritty play and playoff appearance, in addition to the absence of headline-grabbing arrests of player after player.

So seriously? Adam Jones…the Adam Jones? I believe everyone deserves extra chances. We all make mistakes. We all suffer from poor decision making. But I want the Bengals to continue their transformation toward a tough, running-focused team, not continue the tradition of undisciplined players running amok in the Queen City.

At this point, it looks like the Bengals have signed the right Jones. The Jones that has a lot of football upside at a position where the team needs help. The Jones that isn’t the symbol for out-of-control athletes with too much money, too soon.

Chances are that these personnel decisions in February considering both athletic prowess and moral character will make all the difference in September.

By Elizabeth Creehan
Freelance writer

Follow me on Twitter @creehanwriter

3 comments:

  1. Staight to the point! I like it! Being a Cowboy fan I know how the Pacman Jones coversations go. He is very talented and IF he keeps his nose clean would be an asset. Big IF and the question becomes how many players CAN we rehabilitate. Chris Henry was going to be a success. Which does show that it is possible. Makes the off season interesting! DM

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  2. With their apparently improved locker room it sure seems like they would be able to attract better character guys with playmaker capability - versus continually taking chances as you point out. DS

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  3. Perhaps they have trouble attracting players because, frankly, Cincinnati is a small market and not known as a city with much of a night life (though the players certainly find ways to get into trouble). Only those being offered a second chance without other offers are willing to take a look. That being said, the front office should be able to keep payroll in control.

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