ATLANTA —With the words “Feed The Children” written across his black T-shirt, NFL outcast Adam “Pacman” Jones stood outside the church doors, passing out almost 500 boxes of food and toiletries to the people who know him best.
“This is for you all—the community,” he told an elderly woman, as a crowd of about 200 swarmed around him.
The troubled cornerback is trying clean up his image, hoping this good deed for his hometown will be another step toward showing he’s worthy of reinstatement to the league that suspended him for numerous arrests.
Meet Pacman the Humanitarian.
On Tuesday, Jones helped needy families at Word of Faith Ministries, a church in an impoverished area on the west side of Atlanta where his aunt and uncle are members. He said the church was a perfect place to pay homage to a community that has given him the most support.
Jones teamed up with Feed the Children, a nonprofit relief organization that delivers food, medicine and clothing to the poor.
“I can tell he really wanted to give back,” said Suzanne Werdann, director of sports partnership for the nonprofit organization.
She said Feed the Children and Jones are planning a relief trip to Africa as well.
“It’s not going to stop here for him,” Werdann said. “He really wants to shed a better light of himself to others who don’t know him.”
Jones has fans cheering him on.
“Pacman, I can’t wait to see you on the football field again,” said a man who turned out at the church.
“Me too,” Jones replied.
The sixth pick in the 2005 draft by the Tennessee Titans, Jones was suspended last season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after several arrests. He has asked for reinstatement on several occasions, but commissioner Roger Goodell wants him to show he’s turned his life around through actions, not words.
During his time away from the playing field, Jones said he has learned from his actions and cut out all the “knuckle heads” in his life. He just wants the chance to atone for his mistakes, turning to his faith for guidance.
“In the Bible it says, ‘Let the past be the past and move on to the future,”’ Jones said. “I think for my situation, God did everything for a reason. Yes, I made a lot of bad mistakes. And I owned up to them. I want to tell the kids everything I went through, so they won’t have to.”
Brenda Hill, a daycare worker, brought along 12 children to the food drive. One kid was especially confident that Jones will be back on the field next season.
“I’m super-duper happy Pacman is here,” 9-year-old Spirit Rush said. “He’s great to me. I’m going to bet that he’ll be the better player than everyone else. Just watch.”
Gladys Jones watched from afar as her nephew handed out a couple boxes filled with condiments. She said he’s evolved as a person over the past year.
“This is a good start,” she said. “A bad picture has been painted of him for such a long time. But he’s more humble now, and I hope that everyone sees the good side of him—like I do.”
Even though he is still with the Titans, Jones has been outspoken about his interest in wanting to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Recently, he spent three hours as a guest on a radio show hosted by former Cowboys receiver and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.
“There are a few teams interested in me like the Detroit Lions, New England and (Miami) Dolphins,” said Jones, speaking as though he expects to be reinstated soon. “But everyone knows I want to wear the star on my helmet, and play for Jerry Jones.”
No matter what happens on the field, the Rev. Larry Hill believes Jones is on the right track and praised him for returning to his roots to help the less fortunate.
“They can relate to him here,” Hill said. “With the media coming down on him, I think he needs a support system like this to give him comfort going on.”