The NFL wants “real” in the annual symposium aimed at helping rookies adjust to life in the league and it doesn’t get any more real than the experiences of Adam “Pacman” Jones and Maurice Clarett.
Both are scheduled to speak at the event June 23-29. Jones is the Cincinnati Bengals cornerback who has multiple arrests — including one last week for assault — on his resume. Clarett, released before ever playing in the NFL, is presently trying to land a spot on the U.S. rugby team that will compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio.
“I understand that what I have to share is a national story of success and failure — great failure in a very public way,” Clarett told Fox Sports Ohio. “It’s a story of redemption right now. Going to the symposium, I can identify with a lot of those guys. I don’t know if they know my story or not, but I know a lot of them grew up with nothing. I know they’re getting money for the first time and they have everybody they’ve ever known trying to get their hands on it.
“These guys are 21 and 22, and they’re now the head of the household. They’re not used to that. They were college stars whose only responsibility was to show up to lift and practice. If anybody knows what it’s like to throw it all away, it’s me. And now to have a stage and a spotlight to reach somebody before he does something near as stupid as the things I did, it’s a privilege.”
The symposium is in Aurora, Ohio.
“You are not going to trick an athlete,” Troy Vincent, the NFL’s vice president of player engagement, told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Joe Reedy. “They know when it is dressed up and not real. When you can sit among your peers and just talk about your life, someone is learning from that. They can look at him and see themselves from the way they look to where they have originated.”
Jones has pleaded not guilty to a charge of hitting a woman outside a Cincinnati nightclub June 5. In January 2012, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, after being accused to cursing at police and trying to pull away as he was being arrested at a Cincinnati bar.
And last year he was ordered to pay $11 million to two Las Vegas strip-club workers who were wounded in 2007 when a gunman, who claimed he was following Jones’s orders, opened fire when Jones and his group were kicked out. Jones claimed to have had no role in the incident and worked out a plea to misdemeanor conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct. The shooter is in prison.