By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
But, hey, you gotta start somewhere.
Though owner Jerry Jones dismissed any disciplinary action in downplaying Pacman's latest transgression, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday suspended the nefarious cornerback at least four games.
It's a start. But it should be the end.
For his part in last week's hotel horseplay—Jivin' at the Joule, as it were—Pacman shouldn't be allowed to play for the Cowboys. Or, for that matter, any team in the NFL. Kick his dumb ass out of football.
Pacman = game over.
The way I see it, he took his last chance and puked on it. Wait, that was his last chance, right?
Said Jones last week in addressing Pacman's non-incident incident, "There's not anything here to discipline."
Saddled with zero tolerance by Jerry Jones himself and Goodell, Pacman entered the season just one oops away from the end of his career. But just six weeks after his reinstatement from a one-year league suspension for abhorrent behavior and only a few days removed from Jerry Jones admonishing him to decrease his public visibility, Pacman got in a fight October 8 with his team-mandated bodyguard at a downtown hotel. Stuff was broken. Alcohol was involved. The police were called. At 11 p.m. On a school night.
Contrary to his promises, Pacman went to the wrong place and stayed until the wrong time. He attended a private party and wound up scuffling with his baby sitter like a man starring in his own adaptation of 48 Hours. Just like that, the Joule Hotel lobby men's room earned a place in Dallas landmark infamy alongside Mia's restaurant and the old Texas Theater.
"I'll make sure I put myself in way better situations than I have put myself in the past," lied Pacman on August 28.
Nothing to discipline? Really?
Goodell, for one, disagreed, suspending Pacman without pay until after Dallas' November 16 game at Washington. If he isn't dubbed squeaky clean by Goodell at that time, Pacman's career will be over.
Instead of cutting Pacman, Jerry Jones again stubbornly supported him in the wake of the latest suspension. "We move forward with a very clear knowledge as to what the process will be for a possible reinstatement," Jerry said in a statement. "Adam is well aware of where he stands and what he has to do."
Considering Jerry's ridiculously lenient leadership, it's easy to see how the Cowboys lost a game last Sunday in which they committed 12 penalties, coughed up four fumbles, surrendered two special teams touchdowns and became the first team in NFL history to lose a game on a blocked punt in overtime. They also, turns out, lost quarterback Tony Romo for four weeks because of a broken pinkie on his throwing hand, running back Felix Jones for two weeks with a pulled hamstring and punter Mat McBriar for two months with a broken foot.
It was a fitting end to one of the worst, most embarrassing weeks in franchise history.
"We finished off the regular game," bumbled head coach Wade Phillips, "but we didn't finish off overtime."
Added Jerry Jones, "I like 4-2."
What? Two losses before the State Fair ends and we've stooped to this? Illogical, irrational explanations of how the Cowboys tried hard? What happened to the Super Bowl aspirations? What happened to the passion? Where the hell is the accountability?
Like Pacman's glaring immaturity and general disrespect for civility, Dallas' 30-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals is merely a symptom of bigger, underlying problems. Since starting the season 3-0, the Cowboys have been mediocre. Undisciplined. Uninspired. Underachieving.
Despite Phillips' and Jerry's nauseating attempts to sprinkle sugar on shit, the Cowboys stink. The only thing worse than Romo's sloppy ball security is his morose body language. Terrell Owens leads the league in sideline tears, but is only 18th in receiving yards. And assistant coach Bruce Read's special teams units are the worst in team history. By far.
The Cowboys, who will play at St. Louis on Sunday with 40-year-old Brad Johnson at quarterback, remain the most talented team in football. But they're also the most coddled.
Said receiver Patrick Crayton after the debacle in the desert, "Maybe we need our asses chewed out."
Look, I'm not asking Phillips to morph overnight into Bill Parcells. Neither do I want Jerry Jones to resurrect Jimmy Johnson's old asthma field. But when players suck, admit it. And when employees break do-or-die rules, fire them.
Jerry (see Michael Irvin, Owens, Tank Johnson, et al.) has always favored winning with the sinners over losing with the saints. But by shrugging off Pacman's latest episode as "jivin' around," he shrinks himself into one of those spineless parents who wags a limp finger. "OK, but next time I'll really mean it."
If isolated, Pacman's scuffle with bodyguard Tommy Jones wouldn't have merited big news. There were no charges. No arrests. In fact, it wouldn't have been a story had the Cowboy in question been Jason Witten or DeMarcus Ware. But it was instead Pacman. And it was his 13th incident involving police since 2005.
"An aberration," Jerry Jones called it.
No. Here in the real world we refer to it as a "chronic behavioral disorder." Or, if you prefer, "punk syndrome."
Cowboys fans, you're too good—too loyal—to be subjected to Phillips' incredulous naïveté or Jerry's foolhardy machinations.
While Phillips—in one of the saddest, sorriest performances I've ever seen at Valley Ranch—responded to Pacman's incident by actually claiming he had no problem with the player being out drinking at 11 p.m. the night before the most important practice of the week, other coaches around the league said they would've handled it a tad differently.
Like the Cowboys' former coach: "He was already at the end of his rope," Jimmy Johnson said Sunday morning on Fox. "They've got to take responsibility and accountability and get rid of him."
Like, possibly, the Cowboys' future coach: "He was given a zero-tolerance mandate," Bill Cowher said Sunday morning on CBS. "Given that, if you don't do anything, you lose credibility."
Unlikely, but Goodell may do Jerry's dirty work for him. The commissioner, whose office is investigating, has repeatedly warned Pacman to "avoid situations where he might reflect poorly on himself, the Cowboys and the NFL." Lack of handcuffs and mug shots be damned, I say being questioned by police at 11 p.m. about an altercation involving alcohol and fighting reflects poorly on Pacman, the Cowboys and the NFL.
The NFL may suspend Pacman for a game, but I'm betting he'll get yet another chance to make fools out of two of the most powerful men in football. Because, the thing is, we all know this incident isn't Pacman's last. Regardless that his $700,000-a-year job is on the line, he can't keep a low profile.
Despite the reinstatement restraints, he's been scolded by the Cowboys for frequenting a Hooters. For jumping onstage at a Nelly concert. And for planning to co-host a charity volleyball tournament with the Mavericks' Brandon Bass.
I've heard from multiple sources that Pacman hangs out at the trendy Plano nightclub Martini Park. For the record, he has been well-behaved. But over and above all the cougars on the prowl, I recently saw a fight spill out the club's door and into the street. Arrests were made. Obviously the joint is on Jerry's approved list of establishments, but it seems a toxic environment for a known troublemaker.
In the end, Pacman hardly seems worth the ruckus. More than a third into the season we're still waiting for his first signature play. No interceptions. No game-changing highlights. Not a punt return longer than 18 yards. And against the Cardinals, he was beaten for a touchdown.
Yet there's his enabler, Jerry Jones, walking away from Pacman's five-alarm blaze shouting, "Move along! Nothing to see here!"
Said Jerry simply, "We need to get better."
Better on special teams. Better at quarterback. Better at receiver. Better at cornerback.
Better at rules enforcement.
Better, even, at bodyguard.