This one is going to ruffle a few feathers and I’m probably going to get very angry about some of the comments that will be left in response (I’m looking at you, Facebook crowd), but this is one topic that I think deserves to be included in our list of 25 low points in Mountaineer fandom.
Perhaps the most controversial athlete to ever don the old gold and blue, Adam Jones came to West Virginia in 2002 out of Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia. More widely known as “Pac Man” at the time, Jones wasted absolutely no time before making a splash in Morgantown - on and off the field.
On August 17, 2002, before ever playing a single down at West Virginia, Jones and teammate Leandre Washington were involved in a bar fight at Dr. John’s Lounge in Sunnyside. It was alleged that Jones struck another WVU student in the face with a pool cue after being called a racial slur, knocking several of his teeth loose and causing facial lacerations.
Jones was arrested and charged with a felony malicious assault charge and faced up to a year in prison, but still played in 11 games as a backup defensive back. When the case finally went to court over a year later, Jones was able to plead down to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to two years of probation and 60 days of home confinement.
Jones would go on to be one of the best defensive backs and kick/punt returners in Mountaineer history. Pac Man declared for the NFL Draft in 2005, after his junior season, and was selected 6th overall - the first defensive player taken that year - by the Tennessee Titans.
But trouble followed Pac Man.
Just two weeks before training camp was set to begin for the 2005 season, Jones was arrested by Nashville police at Titans headquarters and charged with assault and felony vandalism after another nightclub altercation. Three months later, Jones’ original probation sentence is extended by 90 days after the judge rules that he violated the terms agreed upon in 2003.
In February 2006, Pac Man was arrested once again, this time for possession of marijuana. Jones was also charged with a felony count of obstruction and two misdemeanors of obstructing police after swinging at the arresting officer. In August of the same year, Jones was arrested for disorderly conduct and public intoxication after allegedly spitting in the face of a woman he accused of stealing his wallet. Jones was given six months of probation and was told to stay out of trouble and avoid nightclubs.
Jones didn’t listen.
In February 2007, Jones was involved in a melee at a Las Vegas strip club following the NBA All-Star Game that ended with three people being shot. The club promoter alleged that the gunman acted on Jones’ behalf after a separate incident that happened earlier in the night. Jones was charged with two felonies later that summer, but accepted a plea deal for a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct.
In April 2007, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Jones for violating the NFL player conduct policy, forcing Pac Man to sit out the entirety of the 2007 season. Jones was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, where he played in nine games before suffering a potentially career ending neck injury. He was later released by the Cowboys after being named a suspect in a shooting outside an Atlanta nightclub, although his name was cleared and no charges were filed.
Jones made his return to the NFL in 2010 - sans the “Pac Man” nickname - as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. He played in 95 games over eight season in Cincinnati, mostly in a backup cornerback and kick/punt returner role. Following the 2017 season, the Bengals declined to renew Jones’ contract, possibly putting an end to his 11 year NFL career.
Although Jones’ name has popped up in a couple minor incidents since he shed the Pac Man moniker - most recently the incident where an Atlanta airport employee attacked him - he has credited his marriage and children with being the key to him reflecting on his character and maturing.