Pacman Jones, meet Joey Barton.
Try all you want to reach the pinnacle of bad boy athletes, it’s just not going to happen.
Get suspended all you want, questioned all you want, there’s little besides molesting Jessica Simpson at a team social function and shanking T.O. in the shower that will vault you ahead of Joey Barton.
Joey Barton makes Pacman Jones’s life story look like a Disney movie.
On Tuesday, the Newcastle United midfielder made his first English Premier League start since being released from jail.
Barton was sentenced to six months imprisonment for assault, but served just 77 days before being released in late July.
He would have started a game earlier had he not been given an additional six-game ban for punching former teammate Ousmane Dabo while at Manchester City. Barton’s beat down of the Frenchman left Dabo looking like “the elephant man” with facial injuries including a suspected detached retina.
Of course, it was that fighting spirit that landed Barton in the pen.
Barton had drunk 10 pints and five bottles of lager before and nothing settles a stomach on a late night like a McRib. While at McDonald’s he gets into it with a group of teens.
Watch him and and a few family members keep his street cred (if I’m not mistaken, I think his female cousin gets in a few blows here).
Come on it was Boxing Day (really was). The dude has trained with good friend and ardent Manchester City supporter Ricky Hatton (watch). Why not test the skills out on a 16-year old?
Remember, Barton was once good enough to earn a call-up to the English national team (which he did in Feb. 2007). When Manchester City had no other choice but to sell him, a number of clubs lined up including Everton, Middlesbrough and Newcastle before he was sold to Tyneside for more than $10 million.
And one thing is for sure, Barton certainly knows how to stay in the headlines.
His career got off to ominous start when he was slated to make his debut as a second half substitute in Nov. 2002, but he lost his shirt after leaving it on the bench at halftime.
He left the stadium furiously when he found out he wasn’t in the lineup April 17, 2004 against Southampton. He was spotted at a local cinema catching a matinee of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”
At a team Christmas party in 2004, Barton put out a cigar in a youth player’s (Jamie Tandy) eye. Barton claimed Tandy was trying to set his shirt on fire. Barton apologized and was fined six weeks’ pay. Tandy (right) was partially blinded and is currently suing Barton.
In Nov. 2005, his 17-year old half-brother was convicted of a racially provoked murder of a black student with an ice axe.
On Sept. 30, 2006, he showed Everton fans an intimate glimpse inside.
In a preseason friendly match with Doncaster Rovers in July 2004, Barton started a 10-man melee after a gross tackle. I wonder if it looked anything like this?
He officially becomes the third Gallagher brother (joining good friend Noel and Liam).
Barton underwent anger management therapy at his coach’s request and paid the club more than $230,000 in fines. In the fall of 2005, he began a seven-day program of behavioral management as the Sporting Chance clinic, a charity set up to help troubled athletes.
In May 2005, he broke a 35-year old pedestrian’s leg while driving his car through Liverpool at 2 a.m.
He was then sent home from a preseason tour of Thailand after fighting with a 15-year old Everton fan and was fined eight weeks’ pay.
On May 1, 2007, he beat up Dabo (right).
In Dec. 2007, he was arrested on suspicion of assault following an incident which took place at 5:30 a.m. Since Barton was already on bail for two prior offenses, he was remanded in custody and sentenced to six months in jail.
So, that leads us to now.
While Tuesday was Barton’s first start, he did see action late as a substitute in Newcastle’s loss to Sunderland on Saturday.
During warm-ups, Barton was pelted with objects from Sunderland fans. Instead of flipping out, Barton responded simply by kissing the Newcastle badge on his shirt.
Newcastle are a team in turmoil as it is. Languishing near the relegation zone, in financial dire straits with new ownership coming, a jettisoned iconic manager currently in purgatory and an interim boss many think can’t hold Wade Phillips’ jockstrap. Add that to the most fervent, rabid fan base in England and you’ve got quite the powder keg. So of course, they could use a little Joey Barton.
In the 10th minute of Newcastle’s game against West Bromwich Albion when the referee whistled for a penalty and Newcastle’s designated penalty taker, Michael Owen, missing, Barton ran up and snapped the ball before a teammate can lay claim.
Truth be told, it wasn’t the prettiest taken penalty in the world, but the keeper guessed wrong and Barton had his goal.
“That was for all our fans and all the people I let down,” Barton said. “My only wish is that it is the first of many.”
We hope that’s the case. Just to be safe though, hand out protective eyewear to teammates.