By John McMullen
Popularity has its perks and the NFL knows it.
No matter how many felons, drunk drivers, wife beaters and other assorted flotsam the league employed, it knew America would be tuning in every Sunday. In fact, it cultivated an alarming, dysfunctional, almost abusive relationship with its followers.
Like a bullying boyfriend or a tyrannical father -- the NFL preyed on the fact that most sports fans loved its game and were going nowhere. So with billions of dollars flowing in, there was no impetus for change.
Simply put, the arrogance of the league enabled the omnipotent sports giant to contradict things the rest of us saw with our own eyes. But, everyone has a breaking point.
Enter Pacman Jones.
You can almost picture the scene...
Ron Burgundy addressing Brian Fantana, Champ Kind and.....Jones, regarding a Las Vegas strip club incident that ended in gunfire with a former World Wrestling Federation jobber paralyzed below the waist.
“That really escalated quickly,” Ron would say to his cohorts. “Pacman almost killed a guy.”
Yep, the only thing missing is the trident.
All kidding aside, Las Vegas police have questioned Jones but he is not a suspect in the actual shooting. Of course, a key witness confirmed that the pride of Tennessee was in the middle of the ruckus that allegedly led to the shootings. He also arrived and departed with the actual shooter.
But, there is a silver lining in all of this. Jones is such a public relations nightmare that he has spurred a league that ignored a stunning behavioral problem for 20 years into action. Talks have already been held between the league and the NFL Players Association and it looks like there is substantive support for a three-strike rule.
Could that mean an NFL without Jones, Chris Henry and Leonard Little?
It’s already on the way and it only took $81,000, some strippers and an idiot who calls himself Pacman.