CINCINNATI — Bengals owner Mike Brown is defending his decision to keep cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones despite another arrest, saying he’s been “punished enough” for his latest troubles.
The NFL suspended Jones for the season opener because of his altercation with a hotel security employee and his profane outburst at police following his arrest in January. Jones pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge to settle the case.
Brown intimated at the team’s annual preseason luncheon on Tuesday that there was discussion in the front office about releasing Jones, but he was against it.
“I’m not going to say something wasn’t discussed, something wasn’t considered,” Brown said. “But what we did is what we did, and I’ll take responsibility for it. We’ll see how it turns out in the end. It if turns out well, I’ll be pleased. If it doesn’t, then blame me.”
After his arrest, Jones told one of the officers taking him to jail that “I hope you die tomorrow.” The Bengals apologized for Jones’ conduct soon after his arrest, and then decided to keep him on the team.
Brown gave Jones what amounted to a final chance in the NFL after his suspension-marred years with Tennessee and Dallas. Jones has had several off-season incidents during his seven seasons with Cincinnati. He was found not guilty of assault charges in 2013 after being accused of punching a woman at a Cincinnati nightclub. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct after he was arrested in 2011 in another case.
Jones also was involved in a last-minute meltdown that helped the Steelers rally for a first-round playoff win during the 2015 season, bumping an official and drawing a penalty that set up Pittsburgh’s winning field goal.
Brown said his admiration for Jones hasn’t diminished.
“I like him personally,” Brown said. “I admire his energy, I admire his courage, I admire a lot of things about him. He didn’t come up the easy way, believe me. If any of us had come up that way, I wonder where we’d be. But anyway, he has misstepped from time to time.”
The decision to keep Jones wasn’t the only one that put the Bengals in the spotlight in the offseason.
The Bengals were criticized for taking running back Joe Mixon in the second round of the draft even though he’d punched a woman at a bar before his freshman year at Oklahoma, drawing a one-season suspension there. Brown defended the decision to draft Mixon, too.
“I think it’s time to give a young guy like this a chance to do the best with his life that he can do,” Brown said. “I don’t see what’s served by denying someone his opportunity.”
During an interview on CNN on Sunday, Bob Costas noted the Bengals’ penchant drafting and keeping troubled players over the years, saying they “at various times seem to have been running a halfway house for miscreants.” Brown took exception on Tuesday, pointing out that they’ve been near the bottom of the league in player suspensions the last few years.
“Do I think we have a locker room with the James boys and Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger?” Brown said, referring to notorious outlaws, bank robbers and gangsters. “I don’t. I’m not Ma Barker. I really think he would have been better to have looked into this one a little bit more.”
The Bengals open camp at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday. Marvin Lewis is entering his final season on his contract after failing to agree to an extension in the offseason. The Bengals are coming off a 6-9-1 season, and Lewis has yet to win a playoff game in his 14 seasons as Cincinnati’s head coach.
Brown said he has a good relationship with Lewis and acknowledged that the one-year contract status will give him added pressure this season. He noted that it’s not the first time Lewis had completed a contract with the Bengals.
“Sometimes it was an additional prod,” Brown said. “We all know how it went last year. We all wish it had gone better. So maybe we’ll see a better year this year and things will sort out then.”
Lewis declined to say anything more than Brown did about his contract status.
“I don’t think much about the future ever,” Lewis said.