There are two things in life that have given me great joy over the greatest period of time: the Dallas Cowboys and Pac-Man. I discovered them both when I was 7 and my family moved back to my birthplace, Texas. America was in the thick of the hostage crisis, “Bomb Iran” played on the radio all the time, but I was too young to understand any of it. That part of my childhood is marked only by school, tenuous friendships with mean girls, and countless afternoons spent either at the arcade next to the Tumbleweed Cafe where my mom worked as a bookkeeper for a Kenny Rogers-impersonator, pumping quarters into the Pac-Man machine (and later, Ms. Pac-Man), or on our blue Salvation Army couch, watching the Cowboys with my older brother on a tiny television with our “borrowed” cable. I had a white satin Dallas Cowboys cheerleader jacket then that I wore until it shredded. I’m pretty sure it was flammable, too. I also belonged to the Official Pac-Man Fan Club and wrote a report on the “Pac-Man History Heritage” from the perspective of “Grandma Pac,” in which I claimed that Pac-Man machines, and “not Cheryl Teigs (sic) or Johnny Carson,” were the most highly-paid public figures. Those two things represent the sweet spot in my early life, when time unspooled in front of me rather than behind, and the world seemed small and safe.
You’d think that I’d be thrilled, then, that my childhood loves are about to merge (“Titans agree to swap Pacman to Dallas”). But we’re talking Pacman Jones here and not the little yellow dude in my history report. He’s got a rap sheet more impressive than my untouched-for-six-years high score on Ms. Pac-Man (full disclosure: I own the machine and it sits in my office–an unfair advantage to be sure). And the last criminal incident that Pacman found himself embroiled in, a shooting at a Vegas strip club, got him a one-year suspension from the NFL and has not been fully resolved.
Do we need a cornerback/punt returner that badly? Is Jones a reformed man? We’ll see. But the guy’s running out of second chances. And, as I wrote in my report so long ago, “A pac-man can only be reincarnated 3 times.”
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