- Floyd Reese, NFL
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Editor's note: Floyd Reese was general manager of the Oilers-Titans for 13 seasons. During his tenure, the Titans selected Adam "Pacman" Jones with their first pick in the 2005 draft. In his first column for ESPN.com, Reese writes about the drafting of Jones and how he believes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will deal with the controversial Titans cornerback.
There have always been a number of methods to measure the on-the-field performance of a football player. A scout might label a player with "quick feet," "good hips" or call a guy a "teamer." What is not widely understood is that there are just as many methods to measure a player's intangibles.
General managers spend a great deal of time before the draft considering a player's character, work ethic, maturity, coachability and other similar characteristics. Before the NFL combine, most teams invest in extensive background checks. Included in these are, if applicable, police reports, coaches' evaluations, support group evaluations, educational evaluations and personality profiling.
Players also often are questioned about intangibles during interviews that are conducted at the combine, school visits and pro days, and background checks also are made on extended visits to a player's hometown.
When all of these elements are combined with on-the-field performance, the hope is that a personnel department will get a good read on the type of player a team is drafting.
While it is not all that uncommon to find background issues with draft-eligible players, it is then up to each club to determine whether these issues are ones that it can reconcile with or not. No team in the league would overlook problems or character flaws, but it is up to the decision-makers to determine if the player will be able to fit into their system.
Adam "Pacman" Jones went through this type of a process. Prior to the 2005 draft, Jones had one issue in his past. While enrolled at West Virginia University, Jones was involved in a fight. He was arrested and put on probation for the incident. Still, coaches' evaluations, support group evaluations, educational evaluations and personality profiling of Jones were all excellent. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone inside West Virginia University who would say anything negative about him.
If these evaluations still leave people second-guessing the draft process, it must be kept in mind that the same system that determined Jones' intangibles was also used to assess more than 120 other draft choices that we made with the Titans. He was treated just like the other draft choices and with no sugarcoating. Yet despite Jones' Pro Bowl-caliber potential, he has been nothing but a disaster off the field. Immediately following the 2005 draft, Jones was involved in several off-the-field incidents that have turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg.
In my 13 years as a general manager, Jones was the only extended holdout, because of the Titans' insistence on writing a contract that would give the club sufficient protection from further incidents. Included in his contract were clauses to protect the club from paying guaranteed or bonus money in the case of a conviction for a crime.
The league and the Titans, including coaches and individuals in the Tennessee locker room, have spent countless hours trying to direct and counsel Jones. Although not all of his incidents have been catastrophic, the frequency and repetition have magnified the overall effect. A major concern is that it appears that each successive allegation is increasing in magnitude and severity. This downward spiral cannot continue.
I believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is going to deal with these issues unsympathetically. I would support any discipline the commissioner deems necessary. The NFL presents to its audience the finest sport in the world, and nearly all its membership includes people who are mature, responsible and of high character. They enjoy a relationship with the public. This young man has been counseled, encouraged and mentored. But now there is only one person in the world who can determine what his future will hold, and that is Pacman Jones.
Former NFL general manager and coach Floyd Reese will contribute frequently to ESPN.com.
In his first column for ESPN.com, former Tennessee general manager Floyd Reese writes about the drafting of Adam "Pacman" Jones and how he believes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will deal with the controversial Titans cornerback.