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I have not met Pacman

Friday, April 20, 2007

apuca@marshalltribune.com

In light of the recent events surrounding the suspension of Pacman Jones and Chris Henry by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell I would like to let the people of Marshall County know that I have not met a facsimile of either of these individuals in my time as a sportswriter in this area, or for that matter anywhere in my travels.

As a sportswriter, I have noticed that many athletes tend to navigate towards the bright lights of the media, out of curiosity or the desire to be noticed. The conversations and contact I have had with these student athletes over the past nine months has given me hope that they understand the gravity of staying on the straight and narrow to achieve bigger goals in their lives.

Many of the senior class athletes in Marshall County have recently showed up on their respective school's list of honor students, including Valedictorian and Salutatorian for the 2007 school year.

These student athletes have learned many valuable lessons on the playing fields, parade fields, and gymnasiums in this great county and have been able to transfer these values to the classroom. Much credit goes to the parents, coaches, and administrators that have chosen to be involved with their children's lives from an early age.

Being involved in your child's extracurricular activities and helping them through the tough times of adolescence is essential to their future success. Many are also involved in church groups in the area and have become in tune to the bigger world around them through volunteer groups and community service organizations.

Ultimately, each student athlete will have to make choices for themselves as they mature to adulthood and plan their career paths. As parents, we can only guide them down the road of life and they will choose the fork in the road they wish to follow.

It is my belief that the blueprint for success is a direct correlation to the amount of quality time a student athlete spends with people who care more about the grades on a report card and showing respect for other people, which is inherently more important than how many points they score, runs they drive in, or first serves that they nail.

I have witnessed more of this behavior from our athletes in Marshall County than what we see on television with pro athletes. As is the case in many media outlets, the negative story seems to get much more print and airtime than story about the student athletes that have given a tremendous amount of time and effort to reaching for more.

The Titans have done these student athletes and Pacman Jones himself a disservice by turning their heads to his obvious troubled behavior. Thank God the NFL has finally stepped up and said enough is enough and we will not tolerate it any longer. Pacman and others like him will have to make the correct turns in their road of life or suffer the consequences.

Pacman does not exist on the gridiron in this county and in all likelihood will not in the future because people who care about the individual will intervene and teach right from wrong, rather than wins or losses.