Adam “Pacman” Jones found himself in a fight Wednesday at Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport, but it appears the embattled NFL cornerback’s role in the fracas was a case of self defense. The 13-year veteran was caught on tape exchanging words with airport employee Frank Ragin, but only getting physical after getting shoved and punched by Ragin first.
Though Jones didn’t start the fight, he did finish it. A two-punch combination sent the dazed employee to the floor, where the longtime Bengals cornerback added one last punch to his suddenly-defenseless aggressor.
Jones wasn’t cited for his role in the altercation, and according to Atlanta police, declined medical attention for a facial laceration afterward. Ragin was charged with two counts of battery.
What does this mean for Adam Jones?
It’s the latest in a string of negative headlines for Jones. While the former All-Pro’s talent on the field has given him more than a decade of NFL experience, his behavior off it has threatened to end his career multiple times. Jones raised red flags about his character before even playing a snap in the NFL, getting into fights at West Virginia University and in Nashville after being drafted by the Tennessee Titans. This raised enough concerns for the team to build a clause into his rookie contract that prevented the club from paying his bonuses in the event he was convicted of a crime.
Jones was arrested twice in 2006 alone, once for marijuana possession and once for disorderly conduct and public intoxication after spitting on a female Tennessee State student at a night club. In 2007, he was charged with two felonies after allegedly slamming a dancer’s head into the stage at a Las Vegas strip club. That sparked a melee that left three people injured after one man, reportedly connected to Jones, fired shots into the crowd in the aftermath. Jones pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and did not serve any time in jail, though a Cook County judge later ordered him to pay more than $11 million to his victims after a pair of civil lawsuits. The NFL suspended him for the entire 2007 season as a result.
Relative police radio silence followed until 2017, when he was arrested on Jan. 3 for obstructing official business, disorderly conduct, assault, and a felony charge of harassment with a bodily substance. He’d spend two days in jail and earn a one-game suspension from the league after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of obstructing a police officer.
Jones is 34-year-old, free agent cornerback on the downside of his NFL arc, and still getting into fights. For much of his career, the Bengals viewed his talent as strong enough to wash out the less-savory aspects of his personal life. With his impact waning, this newest headline could be enough for teams to think a fourth or fifth time before offering the veteran cornerback a contract.