IRVING -- Suspended Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam Pacman Jones moved a step closer to becoming an active NFL player again Monday when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave him permission to participate in practices, training camp and preseason games.
Goodell said he will wait until Sept. 1 -- six days before the Cowboys season opener against the Cleveland Browns -- before making a final determination on full reinstatement.
But being allowed to get on the field with his teammates even on a limited basis was a much-welcomed step in the right direction for Jones and the Cowboys. He will make his Cowboys debut during the organized team activity workouts today.
"This limited reinstatement is a step in the process," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement released by the team. "Adam is aware of the things that need to be done in order to take the next step."
Pacman Jones, then a member of the Tennessee Titans, was suspended April 12, 2007, for repeated violations of the league’s personal-conduct policy. He had been arrested six times since being drafted 2005. The final straw was his involvement in a triple shooting in Las Vegas during the 2007 NBA All-Star game.
While the commissioner had long maintained he would not make a decision on Jones’ playing status until sometime in the summer, the Cowboys -- who traded for Jones in April -- had hoped to at least get him on the practice field.
Jones moved to Dallas three weeks ago and has already begun bonding with teammates.
He has also been working out with former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders to stay in shape.
But a turning point in the process came two weeks ago when Jones had a face-to-face meeting with Goodell following the NFL owners meetings in Atlanta.
Goodell said a meeting was necessary before he made any change to Jones’ status.
That change came Monday -- albeit with strings attached.
In a letter to Jones, Goodell wrote that "his continued participation in the NFL depends on demonstrating that he can conduct himself in a lawful and reliable manner." And that Jones "will be expected to continue the personal conduct program established for him by the NFL and the Cowboys and to avoid further adverse involvement with law enforcement."
The Cowboys acknowledge there are no guarantees with Jones. But they believe he will do his best to stay out of trouble because he knows this is his last chance. They are also confident in the support system within the organization to help Jones stay on the right track.
The Cowboys’ interest is not about rehabilitating Jones, but rather using his talent to help them make a Super Bowl run in 2008. It’s the main reason they traded two draft picks to the Titans and gave Jones an incentive-laden four-year, $13.3 million contract in April.
Getting him on the field now allows Jones to get acclimated with teammates and the defense so he will be ready to go when and if he gets fully reinstated Sept. 1.
According to a source, the Cowboys are going to further help Jones navigate his off-field issues by lobbying the league to advance him a portion of his salary now. Per his contract, the Cowboys were going to advance Jones $100,000 of his 2008 base salary of $700,000 upon reinstatement by Goodell.
But in the past two weeks, Jones’ financial woes have come to the forefront. Las Vegas authorities threatened to issue a warrant for his arrest if he didn’t repay $20,000 in gambling debts. He also had a home in Nashville foreclosed on.