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Analysis: Deters Campaign Finds A Curious Fan In Former Bengal Adam 'Pacman' Jones

Former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones before an NFL preseason game in 2017 in Cincinnati.
Frank Victores
Former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones before an NFL preseason game in 2017 in Cincinnati.

In January 2017, then-Bengal Adam "Pacman" Jones, a professional football player with a long history of brushes with the law, was arrested by Cincinnati Police in a melee at the Millennial Hotel downtown and charged with three misdemeanors and one felony count, for spitting on a nurse at the Hamilton County Justice Center.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters ended up getting the "harassment with a bodily substance" charge dismissed, saying it didn't rise to the level of a felony.

"It's just drunken foolishness,'' Deters said at the time.

Fast forward to the fall of 2020 and Deters is now a candidate for re-election.

And who can be seen on social media and heard on Black radio stations doing a 30-second campaign advertisement for Deters?

None other than Adam "Pacman" Jones, now retired from professional football.

A screen capture from the Deters' campaign ad, "Joe Deters Fights For Justice And Compassion," featuring former Bengal Adam "Pacman" Jones.
Credit Screenshot
A screen capture from the Deters' campaign ad, "Joe Deters Fights For Justice And Compassion," featuring former Bengal Adam "Pacman" Jones.

Deters' Democratic opponent in the November election, former Judge Fanon Rucker, called the Jones ad for Deters "offensive on many levels."

"Here's a man in Joe Deters who wouldn't even show up for an NAACP candidates forum and he's using a famous Black man, someone he let go on a felony charge, endorsing him for re-election,'' Rucker said. "It's disrespectful."

Deters said he didn't treat Jones' case any differently than any other case in which the person charged was also being sued in a civil case.

"When they have civil suits going, we don't pursue it criminally," Deters said.

Deters said the nurse was suing Jones in a civil suit.

In the campaign ad, Jones adopts a conversational tone.

"Hey, this is former Bengal, Adam 'Pacman' Jones,'' he said. "I played here for eight seasons and still call Cincinnati home.

"I know Joe Deters; he's a true friend and has my support for county prosecutor because Joe is a believer in second chances and rehabilitation,'' Jones said. "Joe's not afraid to stand up for our community and fight for both justice and compassion.

"Join me, Adam 'Pacman' Jones, in standing with Joe Deters for Hamilton County prosecutor."

According to news reports from January 2017, security guards at the Millennial Hotel called the police when a drunk and belligerent Jones began pushing and poking the guards. He was charged with obstructing police and went on a long rant at them when he was handcuffed and placed in a police cruiser. It was all caught on the cruiser cam.

At the jail, a nurse asked him to sit down so she could check him. He spit on the nurse, who told reporters later that Jones "coughed up a looger and spit it at me."

One of Jones' attorneys was Alex Triantafilou, the Hamilton County Republican Party chairman and a close friend of Deters.

In news reports, Deters said he was going to wait to decide what to do in the Jones case until the NFL decided whether or not it was going to suspend him from playing.

"If he gets suspended for four games, he loses $2 million,'' Deters was quoted as saying. "We have drunken idiots every night at that jail that don’t get fined $2 million."

Later in the month, Deters announced he was asking the court to dismiss the felony charge and said he would ask Cincinnati prosecutors to seek dismissal of the misdemeanor charges as well.

"My focus was making sure that we treated him exactly like anybody else in these circumstances,'' Deters said in 2017. "He was just a drunken idiot. I mean, he was. And people make mistakes all the time."

The case was resolved in May 2017, after Jones received a one-game suspension from the NFL.

He entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing police. Judge Dwayne Mallory sentenced him to the two days in jail he had done back in January. The judge, at the request of prosecutors, dismissed the misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct.

Last summer, long after the criminal case was over, Deters said Triantafilou told him that Jones "was really a nice guy when he wasn't drinking. We ended up going out and playing golf. He was a good guy. He told me that if he could ever do anything to help me, he would. So he ended up doing the ad."

Rucker said Deters is just trying to make a pitch to Black voters.

"The fact that he is running this ad on Black radio stations and not WLW or 55 WKRC tells me he is trying to persuade Black voters,'' Rucker said. "It's really insulting."

Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU

Read more "Politically Speaking" here.

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Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.