IRVING -- Deep down, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones always knew this day would come.
Although nothing was a given, Jones had worked too hard to remake his image for it not to materialize.
Still, when he did get the official word Thursday that he had been reinstated to the NFL after being suspended for the 2007 season for repeated violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Jones couldn’t help himself.
"Yes, I did scream," said a smiling Jones, who did not play in Thursday night’s preseason game against Minnesota at Texas Stadium. "It feels good. I have been waiting for this for a long time. I know my responsibilities to the NFL. I am going to hold my own and do what I need to do to make sure I stay where I am at right now."
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Right now, Jones couldn’t be in a better place. Several times during his suspension, he openly talked about joining the Cowboys upon his return. Citing the team’s history for taking chances on troubled players and their winning tradition, Jones thought this would be a great place to start over.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, looking for cornerback help, took the necessary step toward making the dream a reality when they acquired him in a trade with Tennessee that was approved April 27.
Roughly four months later and 20 months since Jones’ last official game with the Titans in December 2006, Jones is back in the NFL. His next official game will be the Sept. 7 season opener against the Cleveland Browns, where Jones will serve as the third cornerback and primary punt returner.
"I ain’t going to say this is what I saw, but this is what I wanted," Jones said. "I always wanted to be a part of the star. Thank God now I am reinstated. I am fully a Dallas Cowboy."
With the reinstatement, the Cowboys send the Titans a sixth-round draft choice in 2009, as agreed upon in the trade. That pick is in addition to the fourth-rounder Dallas sent Tennessee in this year’s draft. Two draft picks and a four-year, $13.3 million contract were well worth the risk for Jerry Jones, who has an instant impact player to add to his well-stocked roster.
Jerry Jones has said all along he wouldn’t have made the trade if he didn’t think Adam Jones could help the Cowboys make a Super Bowl run. Still, he credits Adam Jones for making his return happen.
“Adam has worked hard to get to this point, but he also knows that there is still a lot of work ahead of him,” Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He is fully aware of the opportunity that he has been given, and he knows that this is an ongoing process.”
Jones was suspended in April 2007 after an accumulation of arrests and legal problems, including his connection to a shooting at a Las Vegas strip club. He’s been arrested six times and involved in 12 incidents requiring police intervention since being drafted in the first round by Tennessee in 2005.
Jones doesn’t promise he will not make another mistake again. But he says he has taken the necessary steps to put troubles of the past behind him.
"I have to conduct myself like an NFL player to make sure none of these actions come again," Jones said. "Can I say I will never ever make a mistake again? No, I can’t say that. But I will make sure I will put myself in way better situations than I have put myself in by ... surrounding myself with the right people ... staying out of gentlemen’s club ... having a great relationship with God ... and spending more time with my family."
It was his family that Jones thought of first when he got the call from the NFL Thursday. Jones credited Jerry Jones for his unwavering support. He also can thank former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders for serving as confidant and mentor.
But Jones said his mother and daughter were the ones who were with him throughout the trying process that saw him lose millions of dollars and file for bankruptcy.
"My mom was the first person I called," Jones said. "Through these trials and tribulations I have been through she has been my backbone, her and my little girl. I have been beating myself up. My mom has been through this roller coaster with me."
Jones acknowledges the rocky ride began to settle a bit when after being traded to the Cowboys he was partially reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to participate in minicamp, training camp and the preseason.
He knew along if he didn’t get in trouble again he probably would be reinstated before the season opener. But he still had to go through the process of gaining acceptance by his new teammates. He said their support has made the process so much easier.
"Oh man, I have great teammates," Jones said. "You look at my phones, 90 percent of my teammates texted me like ’congratulations’. ‘We are happy you are back.’ ‘Let’s go now, this is just a steppingstone.’ ‘Let’s make it happen now.’ I thank them for their support."