Nobody likes a scold. Few are more prone to tsk-tsking than pasty columnists with space to fill. I don't want to pile onto Matt Jones. He's still young enough and talented enough to make mistakes, learn from them and move on with his life. God knows I've racked up my fair share of bad choices. Adults of all stripes take recreational drugs, to varying degrees of impact on their lives.
Cocaine exits the system within three to five days. Random tests are all but helpless to detect it. Serious people are ready to admit that the drug enjoys widespread use in professional sports.
I just don't like being taken for a fool. The theater drives me batty.
Jones faces consequences that promise to have little practical effect on his life. He can surely withstand the minimum $10,000 fine. Probation's a picnic. The NFL's substance abuse program can only do him good. From the looks of it, he chose to take the brunt of the charges for his buddies on the night in question. Now, his father seems to want to put on a different show.
SCENE: 12:41 a.m. Dark parking lot off major party street. A shiny 4Runner in the blackness. Soft light through hazy windows.
INTERIOR: Three white males in their mid-20s. Shell necklaces abound.
Matt Jones: “Hey guys, got any Sunny-D?”
Josh Hamilton, a suicidal heroin addict three years ago, hit 28 home runs in the first round of the MLB home run derby on Monday night. Everyone knows his problems. The media has covered them to an almost nauseating degree. Hamilton welcomes the exposure and considers that a check on his impulses. If his example can give Jones anything, it's the fact that owning your mistakes is central to overcoming them.
Jones can elude any number of defenders, but he can't run from his problems. The only way to get clean is to come clean.
His career in Jacksonville has been in jeopardy for a while now. Jack Del Rio never cottoned to the sleepy-eyed loper, despite potential you can see for miles. Jones never appeared to give half a shit, whether in the fifth or sixth or even seventh overtime. Sweat just isn't his line. He doesn't get the shakes, and you can't see the fire in his eyes. But you don't win games in the situations in which we found ourselves without a reserve of some kind of serious want-to. The NCAA overtime system isn't built for slackers.
His career seems far from over. Several programs would pick him up for cheap and be smarter for it. He's bound to see more playing time. But Jones' greatest success might still be against his own worst nature.
Congrats to Cliff Lee for snagging the starting spot on the American League team in the All-Star game. His ridiculously hot start might have leveled off into quality and consistency, but he more than earned his place on the mound. A small part of me wonders how anyone beats Roy Halladay out for a starting slot, but the Arkansan in me is pleased as punch.