Goodell aware of Jones' pre-hearing visit to club

Updated: May 11, 2007, 1:25 PM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN.com

On the eve of his appeal to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Adam "Pacman" Jones probably should avoid what he did the last time he was in New York for the meeting that led to his one-year suspension.

Jones went to a strip club, sources close to the league, the NFL Players Association and Jones have confirmed.

The night before his April 3 meeting with Goodell to talk about his off-field conduct, Jones made a late-night trip to an adult New York club. Jones was spotted inside the club shortly after he had a face-to-face meeting with two leading veteran players, Takeo Spikes and Troy Vincent, who traveled to New York to urge Jones to clean up his act.

When Goodell and Jones met the next day, the commissioner already was made aware of Jones' late-night excursion because security from the strip club tipped off NFL security.

Rather than directly confront Jones, the commissioner gave him a test, sources said.

According to these sources, Goodell asked Jones what he was doing to help himself to change his lifestyle. Jones gave a lot of the right answers, such as volunteering that he was going to avoid the nightclub scene.

The commissioner asked him if the self-imposed ban included strip clubs. Jones said yes.

Goodell then asked Jones the last time he had visited a strip club.

Jones became a bit fidgety, perhaps suspicious that the commissioner was on to him, before he answered, "A day ago," sources said.

Technically, Jones told the truth, even though his actual timeline was less than 24 hours by the moment he met with Goodell.

Nobody but Goodell knows for sure how it factored in his decision to suspend Jones for the 2007 season.

In another incident, Jones was cited for speeding on May 7 at 12:45 a.m. by Nashville police. Jones reported the traffic citation to his attorney, who in turned notified the NFL and provided a copy of the ticket.

Jones had promised Goodell that he would have a self-imposed midnight curfew.

Jones also has missed a scheduled counseling session as mandated by the commissioner when he suspended him, sources say.

Friday's appeal will be a more formal hearing in which Jones' legal representatives will present a list of 283 NFL players who have had off-field issues or encounters without being suspended for an entire season. In other words, they will attempt to show there was no recent precedent for Goodell's harsh decision.

The problem for Jones is that his case is appealed to the commissioner -- the same person who made the decision to suspend him for the 2007 season for conduct detrimental to the league on numerous occasions. Jones' off-field conduct has included 10 incidents for which he was interviewed by police; the most recent took place in a Las Vegas strip club during NBA All-Star Weekend.

Even with a spirit of cooperation between the NFLPA and Goodell on the issue of player conduct, the goal of having the new policy drafted into the collective bargaining agreement hit a wall.

Gene Upshaw, executive dirtector of the NFLPA, refused to adopt the new conduct policy into the CBA unless suspensions of one year or longer could be appealed to an independent arbitrator. The commissioner refused, citing the proposal as a last-minute ambush by the union, sources said.

Goodell certainly will cite that his suspension of Jones includes the ability for Jones to be reinstated after the 10th game if he stays out of trouble and is cleared of pending cases in Las Vegas and Atlanta.

If Goodell lets his original decision stand, there are legal scholars -- some of whom have lofty positions in other professional sports leagues -- who believe Jones might have a case if he seeks a remedy through federal courts.

Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN.

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