Bad behavior should never be excused. Adam Jones is guilty of bad behavior, again. But if you think the Bengals are going to dump him after what he did this week, you're wrong.
Jones got into a verbal altercation with a reporter Monday and you'd think he'd just committed an arrestable offense, again.
The television station of the offended reporter treated the video like it was the second coming of the Zapruder film, talked about Jones' recent anger-management counseling for his January arrest and talked about how great a guy their offended reporter is.
If it were me calling the shots at that place, I would have done the same thing.
But all that was was this: A professional athlete was asked a question he didn't like and yelled at the reporter asking it. That's pretty much the way my business goes. It's happened to me at least a hundred times, even by players who don't have Jones' rap sheet.
I've been threatened verbally, physically, told I was going to be sued and "won't have my job tomorrow." And that was only in my first three years in my business. It's that whole "goes with the turf" thing.
Again, bad behavior should never be excused. On Monday, Adam Jones reacted badly.
I'm not sure his employer did him any favors.
This was Jones' first public appearance, at least for the purposes of media, since his January arrest. It was the Bengals' first "open locker room" since the end of last season. Even someone who doesn't know a thing about how the media works, any reasonably thinking person, would know that the moment Adam Jones stepped into that locker room, cameras and note pads would descend upon him.
Did the Bengals' front office not know?
Here's a dirty little secret about how we work in the media: When told when someone doesn't want to talk about something, we prod on the exterior to get to the heart of a story. That's our job. We in the media, most of us anyway, want simply to know the truth. The best of us are relentless about it, because the truth is something everyone should know.
For example, if someone who steals a car is willing to talk to the media, but doesn't want to talk about his specific case, the questioning might go something like: "You say you don't want to talk about the theft, but is this something you regret?" Or, "I know your case is pending and you can't talk about it. but what would you tell someone who was thinking about doing the same thing that you did?"
It's called "getting the guy to say anything about it." It's Reporter 101. Sometimes the guy will tell you a bunch of nothing. Sometimes you'll get a "no comment." But sometimes you'll actually get him to talk about what he did.
Here's how Jones should have handled his media encounter Monday: Either with a "no comment" or a polite "I'm not going to get into that today." After the second question, which by the way came several questions later in his Monday interview, Jones should have smiled and said, "that's enough for today."
But I think his employer let him down.
Again, there is no excuse for bad behavior.
There were two ways the Bengals could have handled the situation for Jones. And I want to be on the record with this: As a working journalist for the past 43 years, I would favor neither of these scenarios. But from a media management standpoint, they make infinite sense.
First, they could have taken Jones to a "media room" and sat him in front microphone. Someone from the Bengals front office, presumably from their media relations department, should have been next to Jones and announced before beginning that, "Adam can't/won't answer any questions about his ongoing treatment for anger management or any pending litigation." Jones then could read a prepared statement, saying whatever he wanted to say -- or what the team and his lawyer gave him to say -- and fielded questions about other topics.
Or, that same scene with those boundaries, could have played out by his locker. It didn't.
Amazingly, a member of the Bengals' media relations staff was standing right next to Jones when the first question was asked, when the second question was asked, when every question was asked, when he yelled at the reporter, and that PR person said... nothing. Rule No. 1 in the PR business: Never let the people you represent be the bad guy. You need to be the bad guy. See Sean Spicer.
I'm willing to give the Bengals PR folks some slack. That department is going through a transition period after losing, perhaps, the best at the PR business in the history of Cincinnati sports, the now retired Jack Brennan. But they did one of their players a real injustice on Monday.
Maybe Jones deserves no justice and no favors. His conduct in January in the back of a police cruiser was reprehensible. No one should talk to another human being the way Jones talked to his arresting officers. But if an employer decides to keep an employee, then there certain things an employer must do to protect that employee. Monday, mission unaccomplished.
The Bengals are in a tough spot with Jones. In most businesses, his behavior on that January night would be cause for instant dismissal. Most companies wouldn't want the headache. But the Bengals are weak at the position Jones plays. They spent a first-round draft pick on William Jackson III last spring. He didn't play a down of football last season because he was hurt.
They spent a first-round draft pick on Darqueze Dennard in 2014. His time in Cincinnati has been peppered with injuries and disappointing play. In a league where you need a minimum of four cornerbacks who can play virtually every down, the only consistent performers the Bengals have had at that position are Dre Kirkpatrick and Jones.
And you don't have to be in Cincinnati more than five minutes to know this -- Mike Brown never gets rid of a player until he has another player at that position lined up and ready. It worked that way with Carson Palmer. It worked that way with Jermaine Gresham and it will work that way with Adam Jones. More than any other reason, that's why Jones remains with the Bengals.
There is something else in play with Jones -- Brown sometimes sees his employees are more than just football players. He saw Chris Henry as a troubled man. It's more than apparent that Brown worried what Henry's life would be like away from football, or after his career was over. It's why he gave Henry multiple chances, when the head coach wanted to simply cut ties. I think Brown views Adam Jones the same way.
Again, bad behavior should never be excused. But there is always a story behind it.
Now, to some random thoughts on this random Thursday...
Most impressive player so far this season? Zack Cozart with a .425 average and .500 OBP? I don't think anyone outside the Cozart family saw this kind of start to his 2017 season...
Cody Reed deserves to start a game at this point. Regardless of need, and the Reds are scrambling to find five healthy starting pitchers, Reed has pitched well out of the bullpen. In eight innings, Reed has yet to allow a run and has a 2-1 strikeout to wall ratio...
The more video I see of Derek Barnett, the more I think the Bengals need to grab this guy if he's around at No. 9 overall. This, from last season is convincing...
Cincinnati, and the entire world, lost a giant in the music business last week. The great Tim Goshorn, of Pure Prairie League fame, died after a short illness. He and his brother, Larry, played in PPL and later recorded as a duo. This is one of their best songs ever, performed at a concert a few years back for the charity "Play It Forward," which benefits Cincinnati-area musicians who are having trouble paying their medical bills.
I met Larry for the first time last year, playing a gig at a bar in Loveland. He didn't need the money. He was there to help along another musician, Mark Hayden, and simply because he liked t play.
I didn't approach him. He approached me, complimenting my work over the years on television and radio. He seemed genuine and down to earth. Maybe it was because he was years removed from the "rock and roll" scene. Or maybe it was because he was just a decent guy. I've heard the latter description of Larry, a lot, in the last few days. Good man, great musician and a big loss.