We normally cover football on the weekends, but there are rare cases where we make an exception. One, of course, was the seemingly endless saga of Colin Kaepernick and his protests of… whatever it was he was protesting. But now another story has cropped up which caught my attention. Pacman Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals has had a rather “colorful” history of run-ins with the law and faced disciplinary action from the league in the past. Rather than learning from these lessons, Jones is once again in the news, this time for charges of simple assault on a guest at the Millennium Hotel, fighting with and head butting the police and spitting on a nurse while being booked. Simply lovely. (Associated Press)

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was jailed Tuesday on charges he head-butted police and spit on a nurse after being arrested for disorderly conduct in his latest brush with the law. Authorities said he was so combative that he had to be placed in a restraint chair.

A lawyer representing Jones at his initial court appearance told a judge he “vehemently denies” the allegations against him. The Hamilton County judge set bond at $37,500 for Jones and ordered that he submit to a blood test.

The Hamilton County sheriff’s office said Jones would remain jailed until the blood test can be performed Wednesday morning. Sheriff Jim Neil said Jones was “disorderly and combative” throughout his booking just after midnight Tuesday and had to be put in restraints.

Jones’ attorney is claiming that his client is totally innocent, but the number of witnesses involved combined with his previous history of problems with the law and, shall we say… poor impulse control make that a dubious claim. And since this isn’t an isolated incident, perhaps the Bengals in particular and the NFL in general should take a brief time out to consider how to handle these players in the future.

Jones is no wet-behind-the-ears, reckless kid fresh out of college. He’s 33 years old and has been in the league for a long time. He’s currently holding a three year contract with the Bengals worth $22M with a $2M signing bonus and carrying a guaranteed $6M per year, pay or play. He’s widely considered one of the most capable players in his position. But there’s an old saying about how much is expected of those to whom much is given. Is this really the image the league wants to project?

The NFL’s ratings are tanking, as we’ve covered here many times. And it’s not all attributable scheduling conflicts or the election. The antics of too many players (and league officials if we’re to be honest) are clearly turning off the fans. Sales are down and the greatest sport in America is suffering for it. We expect much more of those who are given the opportunity to represent their home cities in the NFL, particularly when you consider how many students are out there watching and aspiring to someday possibly have a shot at playing in the big leagues themselves.

Just slapping a fine on somebody like Jones isn’t going to get the message across if he’s simply going to continue being a repeat offender and further tarnishing the brand of the NFL. The Commissioner and the owners need to start cracking down and demanding more of the players (and themselves) if they want to reestablish their good name. And that should start right from the beginning of their careers. Remember the story of University of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon? Yeah… that guy. (Contrary to the protests of some, I was not defending his behavior in punching out a girl, but rather exploring an uncomfortable legal question.) Perhaps the younger men coming out of college would get the message if somebody performing at that level on the field failed to land a spot with any NFL team based on his performance off the field.

I love the NFL and I have since the 1960s. I hate to see this happening to my favorite sport, but it’s time for some changes. Nobody can fix the NFL from the outside. They need to conduct a serious self-appraisal and turn this ship around or we’re going to need to look for a new fall and winter sport. Sadly, I don’t think curling is going to catch on to that degree any time soon.