NFL clears ‘Pacman’ to play for Cowboys

IRVING, Texas — Adam “Pacman” Jones has been cleared to play for the Dallas Cowboys this season.

The cornerback-kick returner was suspended all last season, when he was with the Tennessee Titans, because of an accumulation of arrests and legal problems. He was traded to the Cowboys in April, then allowed in June by commissioner Roger Goodell to join the team in training camp and in preseason games.

Goodell, however, was still waiting to decide whether to let Jones play in the regular season. That news came Thursday, hours before Dallas’ final preseason game.

“This is another step in the process,” Jones in a statement released by the team. “I am very grateful for this opportunity, and I understand my responsibilities to the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League. Right now I just want to keep working hard so I can accomplish the goals that I have set for myself both on and off the field.”

Jones has been arrested six times and involved in a dozen incidents requiring police intervention since the Titans drafted him in the first round in 2005. His last NFL game was Dec. 31, 2006.

“Adam has worked hard to get to this point, but he also knows that there is still a lot of work ahead of him,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “He is fully aware of the opportunity that he has been given, and he knows that this is an ongoing process.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail that Goodell wouldn’t have a comment Thursday regarding the reinstatement.

Two weeks ago, Jones sent a letter to Goodell asking to be cleared for the regular season, and saying he would stay out of trouble. Jones knows he has to if he wants to stay in the NFL.

“I think from the beginning there were a lot of critics saying that this couldn’t be done, that he couldn’t turn his life around,” said Jones’ agent and attorney, Manny Arora. “He’s proven everyone wrong. He’s got a very bright personal and professional future.”

Jones had said repeatedly since being cleared almost three months ago to practice that he was confident that he would be reinstated for the regular season and that he was doing everything expected of him.

Still, there was a sense of relief when he got the official news.

“There’s no sure thing in life. It’s nice to finally get the affirmation for all the hard work he’s put in,” Arora said, after speaking to Jones. “The rest is up to him. It’s time to play football. He’s a very motivated player. … I think he’s matured greatly through this. He has a good head on his shoulders. He should be fine.”

Jones played in the first three preseason games, making his first start for the Cowboys last Friday. He was at left corner in place of injured Pro Bowler Terence Newman after rookie Mike Jenkins started the first two games. Jones had eight tackles and a pass deflection in those three games.

Newman (groin) is expected to be back for the Sept. 7 opener at Cleveland, but Jones will still be a prominent player on passing downs and special teams. Jones had punt returns of 18 and 24 yards during the preseason, and coach Wade Phillips said this week that he was considering Jones for kickoff returns because of injuries in that spot.

The Cowboys had been operating under the assumption that Jones would indeed be reinstated for the season. Jones’ involvement in different schemes increased throughout camp as he got comfortable in the system.

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