CINCINNATI -- Sports, like other forms of entertainment, love a good alter ego story.
Good vs. evil. Right vs. wrong. Superhero vs. villain. When those sides play out within the psyche of a single individual, they can be even more intriguing.
That helps explain the longtime fascination with Adam "Pacman" Jones, the Cincinnati Bengals cornerback who has often drawn headlines because of some controversial on- or off-field incident in which he played a role.
As with other football players, within Jones are two distinct personalities. In his case, it's Adam and Pacman. According to Jones, Adam is the loving father who enjoys spending "Daddy Day Tuesdays" with his two daughters. Pacman appears whenever he steps onto a field. Pacman sees only red. Pacman has a level of intensity that can be hard to turn off.
"Sundays, it's Pacman Jones," Jones told ESPN. "Every other day besides that, it's got to be Adam. There's no way that Pac can be Adam, Monday through Friday."
There were days years ago when Pacman did exist off the field, resulting in a series of incidents that led to a bad-boy image that has brought Jones shame. Over time, he has distanced himself from some of those episodes. He even requested eight years ago that everyone but the person who gave him the Pacman nickname in the first place, his mother, stop calling him that. He came to understand just how combative its connotation is when juxtaposed with the more reserved at-home persona he was trying to create for his family.
In Sunday's head-slamming scuffle with Amari Cooper, which led to Wednesday's $35,000 fine, the Pacman alter ego came out at an inopportune time. Instead of the career-high 10 tackles and key forced fumble Jones had in the win at Oakland, the focus after the game was on what Jones did in that split-second decision that he only partially regrets.
"I played a pretty good game, but the main distraction was what happened on that play, not how good I played in the game," Jones said. "I've learned from this mistake, and hopefully it won't happen again.
"But I can't promise you guys that in the heat of the moment that it won't happen again."
There really is no need for Jones to promise one way or another. Though he should hope he doesn't get caught by cameras slamming a player's unprotected head into a helmet again, it's impossible to believe he'll completely avoid having other brief fits of rage on the football field. After all, this is a violent game. And Jones plays with a violence, intensity and passion that is unrivaled.
Besides, it's not like he cares if anyone criticizes him for letting too much Pacman show anyway.
"I really could give a flat f--- what you guys think about me playing football as far as how everything's going," Jones said. "As long as I'm playing 100 mph and helping my team and not hurting my team.
"When I go home, I sleep good. I'm not out running folks over with cars or anything. [Football] is my me time. This is the time where I can come over and enjoy myself and then when I leave here, I put the daddy hat back on."
This is what it takes for Pacman and Adam to coexist.