A. Jones in Vegas: Not Guilty, But...

As we review the Las Vegas Sun's report on Adam Jones' grand jury testimony concerning his involvement in that tragic 2007 shooting incident, we're hoping the NFL's reinstatement decision it isn't unduly influenced by the paper's choice of incendiary, suggestive and loaded words.

We are in no way ignoring the horrible results of that infamous Feb. 19 night, when the now-Cowboys cornerback was apparently at the core of a melee that resulted in the shooting and semi-paralysis of Minxx club manager Tom Urbanski. Football isn't life and death, and we easily recognize that. In fact, our ability to separate one issue from another allows us to downshift from Urbanski's serious issues (survival) to Jones' more frivolous ones (football).

Jones has pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge, thus his offering of testimony to help with the ongoing investigation. His culpability is notable – but so is his cooperation.

The Las Vegas Sun apparently does not see it that way, however.

The Sun's coverage of Jones' testimony begins with a seemingly stubborn insistence on referring to the player as "Pacman.'' The nickname – which Jones is trying to distance himself from – appears in the Sun's headline, in its photo cutline, and in its first mention of the man in its news story.

This isn't exactly Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali, we know. But in this space, we'll attempt to follow a policy of letting a man go by whatever name he chooses. … unless we are purposely being snarky while wearing the hat of "columnist'' or "editorialist.''

Is "snarky'' within the rights of the Las Vegas Sun's news coverage?

The paper's photograph shows Jones entering Las Vegas' Regional Justice Center while positioned near a man named Robert Reid. According to the Sun's cutline describing its picture, Jones "hides behind his bodyguard and co-defendant Robert Reid. …''

Now, we weren't at the Regional Justice Center last week. We are left having to rely on the Sun employee who wrote the cutline (who probably wasn't there, either). But was Jones really "hiding''? Is he intentionally positioning himself behind Reid as to avoid being photographed by the local paper? Is he really that conscious of a courthouse cameraman? And in the sense that he'd traveled across the country to testify in a high-profile grand jury case, is "hiding'' really at all the appropriate wording?

The Sun does it again in the article, writing: "With the help of a half-dozen uniformed courthouse marshals, the trio (Reid, Jones and his lawyer) attempted to elude a waiting Sun photographer.''

We would suggest that the paper is clever in its attempt to subtly paint a scurrilous picture of the player here. Jones needs "help,'' Jones is "surrounded by cops,'' Jones is "attempting to elude.''

Is that clear enough for you? No? Fine. Here's the next paragraph from the story:

"… Jones and his entourage swiftly made their way through the courthouse lobby and down the stairs to the grand jury room in the basement. He declined comment as he walked. Jones spent about 90 minutes inside the grand jury room, which was guarded by marshals in the hallway. When he completed his testimony, Jones evaded a Sun reporter and a photographer by slipping out a courthouse back door under an escort by two plainclothes marshals.''

Let's take stock in the Sun's account:

Jones had an "entourage.'' (One co-defendant and a lawyer is an "entourage''? The paper might've well gone with "posse.'') Jones "declined comment.'' (Hardly newsworthy; his appearance was in order to speak to a grand jury, where the information is private.) Jones "evaded.'' Jones "slipped out.'' (Evocative suggestions, indeed. Why would a "good person'' be so "evasive'' and "slippery''?)

Again, please don't misunderstand. Our full sympathy is with the wheelchair-bound Urbanski, who was an innocent victim simply doing his job that night.

At the same time, please don't misunderstand something else: Adam Jones isn't the gunman. In April, police arrested 29-year-old Arvin Edwards of Renton, Wash., on attempted murder and battery charges. Jones may be a goofball. He may even be malevolent. Given his track record, it is not unreasonable for a Cowboys fan to believe that it will take a fortuitous turn in Jones' life to keep him on the field and out of trouble.

But his involvement in this incident – as foolish as it was – has been dealt with by the authorities. It is over. …

Even if the local newspaper sneakily hopes you infer that it shouldn't be.

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