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Saturday, April 21, 2007
Pacman, Cowboys ... and Omar Epps?

By Matt Mosley
ESPN.com

Love means never having to say you're sorry in The Tennessean.

But Titans cornerback Pacman Jones hasn't felt the love since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for the 2007 season, and that's why the troubled player took the unusual, but novel approach of apologizing in a full-page ad in his local paper Friday.

Since The Tennessean's ad department rarely fields calls from suspended cornerbacks, there may have been some awkward moments.

Questions for Matt
Matt Mosley will occasionally write a mailbag column. Have a question for him? E-mail him at matt.mosley@sbcglobal.net.

"Sir, we're a little tight in Sports. Is the Gardening section OK?"

And in case you're wondering, the going rate for a full-page black and white ad in Nashville's newspaper of record is $11,535.30, although The Tennessean hasn't disclosed what it charged Jones.

Now, I don't have a sales background, but I'm thinking Thursday would've been a good day for a rate hike. It's not like Pacman had much leverage.

Why not encourage him to write a four-part apology?

"I need to re-organize my priorities," Jones wrote in the letter. "As a grown man and a new father, my first priority is my daughter and family. Second, I have to not only meet the expectations of my coaches, teammates and fans, but exceed them in every respect, on and off the field."

The silver lining for Jones is that those expectations shouldn't be unreasonably high.

Commissioner Goodell has left the door open for Jones' return after 10 games, if he meets a long list of requirements, which include staying away from "adverse" involvement with police and not leaving his bedroom for a few months.

If you're keeping score, Jones has now had 10 "adverse" experiences with police since being drafted No. 6 overall in the 2005 draft. But the good news is that, according to his attorney, Jones wrote the letter from his heart.

And honestly, isn't that all Tennessean subscribers can ask for?

Now, let's engage in another important mailbag session:

Michael Ulrich of San Francisco: "Love the articles you've been writing about the draft. Loved the one that included the John Wayne story. Can't wait for draft day. I live in San Francisco, so me and my friends get up early, make Bloody Marys and bet on nearly every pick. Anyway, what do you think the Raiders are going to do? Oh, and looking forward to your mock draft."

Mosley: Michael, thanks for the kind words. And I know people you can talk to.

JaMarcus Russell
JaMarcus Russell could be the top pick in the draft.
Regarding your Raiders question, a club source told me Thursday that the team hasn't narrowed it down to LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell and Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. That said, I still think they'll take Russell. What they're hoping is that Tampa Bay is so desperate for Johnson that it's willing to trade up for him.

One of my friends on the ESPN TV side with a red mustache will be all over this situation next Saturday in Oakland.

Steve D. in Jackson, Miss. with the obligatory Cowboys question: Matt, have you confirmed with Jerry Jones who the Cowboys will select at No. 22? And how much say will Wade Phillips have?

Mosley: Steve, Jerry usually waits until the Friday before the draft to fill me in, but I do have a general idea of what he's planning to do. Unless someone falls into their laps, the Cowboys will attempt to trade out of the first round and secure another pick in the second. There's a feeling across the league that the talent in the first round starts to fall dramatically about halfway through, and that's why Jones will probably be looking for a trading partner.

In recent weeks, the club has zeroed in on Miami safety Brandon Meriweather and Purdue defensive end/linebacker Anthony Spencer. Several former Big 10 offensive linemen have told the Cowboys that Spencer was the toughest player they had to block. The reason he might be available early in the second round is that he didn't have much production until his senior season, when he had 10½ sacks.

DeMarcus Ware and an aging Greg Ellis are the Cowboys' only consistent pass-rushers, so Phillips could use Spencer. And don't rule out Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss, who could be converted to linebacker. Jones loves signing local kids, and Moss played at nearby Denton Ryan High School.

Phillips has had a strong voice in the meetings leading up to the draft. He won't have nearly as much control as Bill Parcells had, but I think he'll have more input than a lot of people think.

William from Nashville: Will the Titans take Robert Meachem because of the Vols connection, or do they take a cornerback?

Mosley: Meachem was in San Francisco (11th pick) on Thursday and he's also been to Buffalo (12) and St. Louis (13) in recent days. If he and Ted Ginn Jr. are still on the board when the Titans pick at 19, Ginn's ability in the return game could be the difference.

Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis could also be a possibility for the Titans, who will be missing a certain cornerback this season.

Shad in Lorena, Texas: Matt, do you think Omar Epps is one of the finest character actors of our generation?

Mosley: Shad, take the word "character" out of that sentence and you're on the money. Epps' turn as running back Darnell Jefferson in The Program still resonates 14 years later. His total command of the screen made it difficult for his love interest (Halle Berry as Autumn Haley) to make much of an impact.

With the success of The Program, Epps became much more selective. If you're not familiar with his 1996 film "Don't be a Menace to South Central While Drinking your Juice in the Hood," please proceed to your nearest independent film store.

Epps is currently one of the stars of Fox's hit TV show, House, which is the best thing not on HBO.

Let's do this again sometime.

Matt Mosley covers the NFL for ESPN.com. He may be reached at matt.mosley@sbcglobal.net.