Does Jones arrest hurt Jones, UFC?
May 20, 2012
Jon Jones was arrested on suspicion of DUI in upstate New York early Saturday morning as it was first reported by TMZ. The arrest blemishes the Jon Jones brand as he was easily becoming the face for the UFC.
Jones’ manager, Malki Kawa released a statement in lieu of the arrest:
“I can confirm that Jon Jones was arrested early this morning on suspicion of DUI. “While the facts of this situation are still being gathered and situated, First Round Management fully supports Jon and we are asking for fans and media to respect the privacy of Jon and his family during this time.”
Although Jones will go through the legal process to determine the facts surrounding the arrest, TMZ reports that Jones crashed his Bentley into a pole and was arrested at the scene. He was bailed out by his mother a couple hours later.
Drinking and driving is a serious offense. While we might say that it was a mistake and a stupid thing to do, many innocent people have died due to drunk driving. With that being said, there have been many professional athletes that have overcome offenses like this (and even worse crimes) without it affecting their careers. Will it hurt Jones’ sponsorship opportunities? It certainly will take him off of any beer ads. How about the blue chip sponsors? Depending on the facts of the case and how Jones proceeds with this (legally and from a PR standpoint), it may be just a blip on his screen. Jones may still have a chance at sponsor deals but he may have to wait a while. If you look at Ray Lewis and Kobe Bryant, they have been able to overcome off the field/court issues to regain sponsors. Tiger Woods lost major sponsors and his play has not helped him recover from the misdeeds of a couple years ago.
To a lesser extent, the Jones arrest may hurt the UFC. TMZ’s main picture of Jones has him adorned in a UFC shirt. Jones is one of the faces of the UFC and a likable figure that sponsors could gravitate toward. Remember, he stopped a purse snatcher and then won the world title in the same day. There aren’t too many American fighters that the UFC could promote. Certainly GSP and Anderson Silva are draws but Jones is the only true big star coming from the US right now. Will it hurt the UFC’s quest for blue chip sponsors? While it could harm the potential for sponsors, I don’t think it would affect it in any way. It probably would have been a bigger deal if he tested positive for an illegal substance.
It would be in the best interest of Jones to accept responsibility and move forward. He could cut PSAs about his mistake and the perils of driving while under the influence. Not sure if the UFC really needs to punish Jones right now. It wouldn’t hurt to remind its fighters to be responsible when out and have a driver if they decide to have a little fun.