DALLAS -- Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell sat side-by-side at lunch Wednesday, and it's easy to guess who did most of the talking.
It might be just as easy to guess what they were talking about.
The status of Adam "Pacman" Jones is of major interest to the Cowboys because they are trying to acquire the suspended cornerback-kick returner from the Tennessee Titans. Trade talks have stalled, likely because of uncertainty about when he will be reinstated by Goodell, the NFL commissioner.
Goodell happened to be in town as the keynote speaker for the SMU Athletic Forum. Jones and Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt were among those at the head table, but it was Jones who sat to the commissioner's immediate right.
So, did he get any inside information?
"I don't and wouldn't get into the conversations with the commissioner regarding Adam," the team owner said afterward. "But I think you see the commissioner's resolve that behavior that reflects negatively on teams or the NFL, he's going to basically address. ... You can't play until he decides you are unsuspended, so to speak. Without being humorous about it, it is not in any way a given. That depends completely upon the behavior and the resolve that Adam has."
Adam Jones was suspended for the entire 2007 because of off-field problems that include six arrests since being drafted. Goodell already has rejected appeals that would've let Jones take part in '07 training camp and to return 10 games into last season.
Instead, he's set a midsummer, pre-training camp timeframe for the two to discuss whether the cornerback is ready to return. Goodell said he's "encouraged, to some extent" by the things Adam Jones has done and said lately.
"If he continues to conduct himself in a way that I think represents the NFL positively, I will consider reinstating him before the season," Goodell said during his open forum remarks. "Whether he is going to be traded or not doesn't impact on my decision, on that basis. His representatives know that."
Jerry Jones said negotiations with Tennessee are "kind of dormant," with no substantial talks since the league meetings two weeks ago. Jones expected to have gotten something done then.
"I don't want to say that it's dead, but I used the term 'it has no energy,"' he said. "I always feel the longer something drags on you diminish the chances of it happening. You get a lot of visibility about it with no movement. You are just down the road. ... But I don't totally dismiss it at this time."
Adam Jones has made it clear he'd like to return with the Cowboys, not the Titans. It's a good fit because the Cowboys need a cornerback and a kick returner, and because the club has often given second chances to troubled players. The latest reclamation project was Tank Johnson, who signed during this past season while he was still suspended.
Jerry Jones declined to say whether the Cowboys' reputation could help Pacman's pitch to the commissioner, but he seemed to indicate that it can't hurt.
"Several of us make mistakes," he said. "When given the opportunity to straighten up and fly right, I have seen that work. As a matter of fact, sometimes you come back better had you not made those mistakes."
Adam Jones' reinstatement pitch may hinge on how he handles his face-to-face conversation with the commissioner.
"I think any time you can look into people's eyes and seeing how they say something, whether they are genuine in what they are saying," Goodell said. "A lot of us can be scripted, a lot of us can be told, 'These are the messages' and 'This is what the commissioner wants to hear.' But I will ask questions and I will look for responses from him to see if he is genuine and if he's taking responsibility for what he's done. ...
"You can make a mistake, but you need to recover from that mistake, and you need to start to develop the resources and the understanding how to make better decisions going forward. And that's what I'm hoping for from Adam when I look him in the eye. I'll ask him questions and I'm hoping he'll be genuine and I'm hoping he'll conduct himself in the right way and I'm hoping we'll see him on the field again someday."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press