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View Full Version : Chiefs NY Times Article: [Thomas] Jones Never Stays Long, but He Always Leaves His Mark


CosmicPal
07-18-2010, 08:34 AM
Great article!! (And a long one.)

Blow me, if it's a repost. :D

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/sports/football/18jones.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1


By GREG BISHOP
Published: July 16, 2010

WASHINGTON — Last week, while athletes with higher profiles flocked to Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards, Thomas Jones taped public-service announcements inside the nondescript United States Department of Labor building here. He arrived an hour early and came alone.

For a running back versed in productivity, occupational safety hazards and unstable employment, the setting seemed appropriate. Jones takes a laborious approach to football, one summarized by a tattoo that reads Coal Miner’s Son and runs toward his heart, across his chest.

“That’s my stamp,” Jones said. “That’s who I am. That’s how I’m made.”

Somehow, those three words explain everything. They explain why he became a spokesman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration and how he has compiled the second-most rushing yards in the N.F.L. since 2005.

They also explain how he remains content with his strange and tenuous career arc. Despite five consecutive seasons with more than 1,100 rushing yards, despite setting career highs with 1,402 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns last season, his 10th, Jones will play for his fifth team, the Kansas City Chiefs, in 2010.

His career is defined by opposing concepts: consistency and uncertainty. Consistency in his production. Uncertainty in money earned, jobs held and recognition gained.

“Some people look at it like all these teams don’t want me,” Jones said. “But I don’t ever expect to be on the same team at the end of the year. I just don’t. That’s partly my experiences, and partly how I’m built. I’m built to adjust.”

His mentality begins with discipline, work ethic, toughness, courage — a soul-of-coal approach. Jones takes those concepts seriously, even listing the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter” among his inspirations.

He comes from a coal-mining family in southwest Virginia. His father, Thomas, and his mother, Betty, ventured into the mines, Betty for more than 20 years. On some level, Jones finds parallels in their occupations, each hazardous and hard, the holes dangerous and dark.

His parents’ example — returning home from work at 8 a.m., covered in coal dust, injured often, tired always, without complaint — became his football template. He admired running backs like Terry Allen, Earnest Byner and Neal Anderson, players who Jones said “worked hard” and “respected the integrity of the game.”

Jones never embraced a more modern approach, opened a Twitter account, choreographed a touchdown dance or campaigned for Pro Bowl votes. He loved football for simple, almost childlike, reasons: the smell of fresh-cut grass, the feel of new cleats, the first touchdown scored each season.

He led the way his parents led, by working out when teammates scattered on Friday afternoons, by returning to the facility at night to watch film. He gave stirring pregame speeches, like the one he gave last season before the Jets played Indianapolis for the A.F.C. championship, when tears streamed down his cheeks.

In three seasons with the Jets, the play that defined Jones came against San Diego last season in the playoffs. Ahead, 17-14, late in the fourth quarter, the Jets faced a fourth-and-1. Handoff, 2-yard gain, game over — the play was classic Jones, far from flashy, but steeped in significance. The people who matter, Jones said, understood that.

Last season, Jones solidified his status as a leader in the Jets’ locker room. He finished third in the N.F.L. in rushing yards. His reward? Another pink slip.

Obvious factors included his age (Jones turns 32 in August) and the emergence of the rookie Shonn Greene during the playoffs. But for Jones, it felt familiar.

“People don’t understand me,” Jones said. “They don’t see me too much. They don’t know how to take me. They think I’m a serious person, that I don’t let them in.”

He laughed, then continued: “Really, I’m just a terrible celebrity. That’s it.”

Jones says that his blue-collar, selfless approach to football has, at times, impeded him. He keeps a mental list of slights — the way his small-town accomplishments were disregarded initially at Virginia, the unproductive stints in Arizona and Tampa Bay, the way Chicago and the Jets drafted the player who would eventually replace him.

Oddly, Jones said he considered quitting when he was in Arizona. Yet it was that stint, from 2000 to 2002, which he describes as “sheer misery,” that ended up prolonging his career. It began with a mystery in 2000 when, in the middle of his rookie season, Jones had trouble breathing. He saw team doctors, outside specialists and visited the Cleveland Clinic. Doctors performed a biopsy on his stomach and stuck cameras down his throat. The diagnoses included walking pneumonia, asthma and anxiety.

After Jones spent about $20,000, a chiropractor realigned his ribs, and his breathing returned to normal. More important, Jones began to examine the team doctors more closely, and he started to assemble a team of health specialists.

In 2002, a hairline fracture in his ankle ruined his first promising season. Jones missed the final eight games and sometimes wandered the streets on Sundays, catching Cardinals scores on television screens in bars that he walked past. He felt disconnected from football for the first time.

Pride prompted his return, a trait passed right from the coal mines. His brother, Julius, had been dismissed from Notre Dame, and they met in Arizona and worked out every day for three months.

Jones rediscovered his love for football the next season in Tampa Bay. Still, teams routinely discarded him, via trade or release. Experts left him off lists of top running backs, or top players over 30. But Jones refused to clamor for attention, and he found that players who did were typical, obvious and corny.

“He truly does not care about the limelight,” his Jets teammate Brandon Moore said. “He just wanted to win when he was here. That’s all he cared about.”

(Page 2 of 2)

When Jones entered the N.F.L., the average running back’s career lasted a little more than two seasons. Over 10 seasons, he laughed at established trends. Jones gained more rushing yards since 2005 than Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Larry Johnson and Clinton Portis, more than any back except LaDainian Tomlinson, who had only 213 more.

Jones is roughly 800 rushing yards shy of 10,000, a mark reached by only 24 running backs in N.F.L. history. But he remains an anomaly, relatively unrecognized, defined by an increase in productivity at the precise moment most backs experience a steep decline.

For this, Jones credited his approach: the weights lifted each weekday, even during the season. The sculptured muscles that serve as body armor and give Jones what his friend Nate Speight calls “the country strength of two bears and three jackals.” The hours spent in ice baths to ward off inflammation. The nights watching film through tired eyes. The days where that psychology degree from Virginia is used to analyze opponents. The chiropractors, osteopaths and masseuses who continue to fine-tune his body.

“You become part of the glue,” Jones said. “If you’re part of the glue of a team, that’s always going to be in that building, no matter how long you were there, or whether you end up leaving. They will remember how you worked. That means more than anything.”

After taping the public-service spots, Jones lingered for 45 minutes, eating onion rings and talking about football, his music business and the speech he gave recently in West Virginia to coal miners. He detailed the best barbecue spots in Kansas City and discussed sharing carries with Jamaal Charles.

By now, with his fifth team and entering his 11th season, Jones easily adapts to new environments. Yet despite his status among the most productive journeymen in sports, he chooses to see five teams who were interested in his services, not four teams who eventually lost interest.

At his Miami home, Jones has framed and hung five jerseys.

“Fifteen years from now, when I look at those jerseys, nobody can say I didn’t play for five teams,” Jones said. “Nobody can say I wasn’t an integral part of five teams. Nobody can take away my work.”

So it goes. Another city, another team, another round of trends to buck and doubts to obliterate. The coal miner’s son will push forward, a trait his new fans at the Department of Labor can appreciate.

Marcellus
07-18-2010, 10:23 AM
I had no idea he was 2nd in rushing yards since 2005. That's impressive. He also sounds like the total team player which explains why he would come to KC to split carries with JC.

Red Beans
07-18-2010, 10:33 AM
He is going to make Jaamal so much better...

RedNFeisty
07-18-2010, 11:06 AM
“You become part of the glue,” Jones said. “If you’re part of the glue of a team, that’s always going to be in that building, no matter how long you were there, or whether you end up leaving. They will remember how you worked. That means more than anything.”



Perfect statement! Damn, I'm excited he is in KC!

Deberg_1990
07-18-2010, 11:38 AM
Hes had the strangest career ever.

His first few years in Arizona, he looked like a bust (he was the 7th overall pick in the draft). he didnt even have his first 1000 yard season until like his 6th year in.

teedubya
07-18-2010, 11:55 AM
His attitude and personality reminds me a bit like Priest Holmes.

mesmith31
07-18-2010, 01:05 PM
Its like God had left over parts after making John Henry, Jim Thorpe and Cesar Chavez

pr_capone
07-18-2010, 01:27 PM
Jones is a beast. I am beyond thrilled to have him wear the Arrowhead on the side of his helmet. I'm hoping he sticks out the last few years of his career with us.

DA_T_84
07-18-2010, 03:37 PM
After taping the public-service spots, Jones lingered for 45 minutes, eating onion rings and talking about football, his music business and the speech he gave recently in West Virginia to coal miners.

Cut his ass.

BossChief
07-18-2010, 06:51 PM
I remember when the talks were going on about signing this guy and I was only a handful of guys that wanted him and thought he was a perfect fit.

Most wanted nothing to do with him, I didn't understand why and still dont.

I hope they put Charles in the locker on one side of him and DJ on the other. Those two can greatly benefit from his work ethic and preparation mentality.

doomy3
07-18-2010, 06:53 PM
I remember when the talks were going on about signing this guy and I was only a handful of guys that wanted him and thought he was a perfect fit.

Most wanted nothing to do with him, I didn't understand why and still dont.

I hope they put Charles in the locker on one side of him and DJ on the other. Those two can greatly benefit from his work ethic and preparation mentality.

I remember getting blasted by many for wanting him ahead of him signing, and The Bad Guy specifically said that Jones is the exact opposite type of signing we should be making. I have no idea why.

Baby Lee
07-18-2010, 06:56 PM
Charles, Berry, and Jones are the only three players I'm 'no matter what' excited to watch this fall. Some I expect to see evolve, those three I expect to excite.*


* for Berry, evolution is excitement. I'm not expecting 'out of the gate' miracles, that's unrealistic.

milkman
07-18-2010, 07:25 PM
I remember when the talks were going on about signing this guy and I was only a handful of guys that wanted him and thought he was a perfect fit.

Most wanted nothing to do with him, I didn't understand why and still dont.

I hope they put Charles in the locker on one side of him and DJ on the other. Those two can greatly benefit from his work ethic and preparation mentality.

Then you didn't pay fucking attention.

Most of us were expecting he would want starter money, and Charles' production combined with Jones age didn't warrant signing him to starter money.

Had he signed a big contract, you can bet your ass Charles would be the guy with fewer carries, rather than the featured back.

BossChief
07-18-2010, 07:30 PM
Then you didn't pay fucking attention.

Most of us were expecting he would want starter money, and Charles' production combined with Jones age didn't warrant signing him to starter money.

Had he signed a big contract, you can bet your ass Charles would be the guy with fewer carries, rather than the featured back.

yeah, because it was totally logical to expect a 31+ year old running back to demand big money in free agency...

Seems Im not the one that isn't paying attention.

Here are my posts from before he was signed by the way...I am all for a plan that takes the load off Charles in a year where it likely doesnt matter so that he has fresh legs when we want to compete.

I can guarantee that if he is coming here, he knows that we already have Jamaal Charles and it will be a rrbc. I bet Charles would get some work at receiver if we end up signing him to take advantage of his speed and RAC ability.

I know Im in the minority, but I wouldn't mind the signing at all.

If we get Thomas Jones under contract for two years, it would be a great deal.

The impact he can have on a young runner like Jamaal Charles would be immense, I feel this is getting totally overlooked.

Ive said this a few times in the past and Id like to bring it up again. Jamaal Charles didnt lift weights like a normal football player while at Texas because he was a track guy. This is why he has broken many more tackles last year over his rookie year. A guy like Thomas Jones can get Jamaal Charles to be a much stronger runner over a yer or two and can also teach him to prepare his body so that he can stay healthy.

I dont care about his age, he ran for 1400 yards last year and has been one of the more consistent runners in the NFL the last few years.

He will also shoulder part of the load for Charles so that he doesnt take as much a beating so that when we are ready to compete he has fresh legs and much better strength.

This signing would be all win!

Honestly, I dont buy any of the negative argument against signing TJ.

If he comes here he knows he is splitting carries and would bring elements to this team that are sorely lacking.

FD
07-18-2010, 07:36 PM
If he can teach Jamaal Charles how to stay healthy and productive for as long as he has, he would be worth the money for that alone.

milkman
07-18-2010, 07:44 PM
yeah, because it was totally logical to expect a 31+ year old running back to demand big money in free agency...

Seems Im not the one that isn't paying attention.

Here are my posts from before he was signed by the way...

I don't give a rat's ass what you said then.

I'm responding to what you said now.

I quote

I didn't understand why and still dont.

We told your dumb ass then.

I only reminded your dumb ass now.

BossChief
07-18-2010, 07:55 PM
I don't give a rat's ass what you said then.

I'm responding to what you said now.

I quote



We told your dumb ass then.

I only reminded your dumb ass now.

Hey man, you're the dumbass to think that 31+ year old running backs demand big free agent contracts.

It should have never been a logical issue to begin with.

If that is the only reason, its pretty weak sauce to try and call others dumbasses about it.

Dumbass

Mr. Laz
07-18-2010, 08:00 PM
i wish we could take his brain and put it into Bowe's body


imagine how good Bowe would be if he wasn't an immature,lazy,chad johnson wannabe

milkman
07-18-2010, 08:21 PM
Hey man, you're the dumbass to think that 31+ year old running backs demand big free agent contracts.

It should have never been a logical issue to begin with.

If that is the only reason, its pretty weak sauce to try and call others dumbasses about it.

Dumbass

Yeah, sure.

I guess expecting a guy just coming off his best two seasons who was cut because he wasn't willing to renegotiate his contract with the Jets to one that was similar to what he signed on with the Chiefs for wasn't someone I should have thought was looking for a bigger payday than he got.

Dumbass.

Dylan
07-18-2010, 08:39 PM
Great article -- Thomas Jones deserves it.

I wish him the very best!

Marcellus
07-18-2010, 09:10 PM
Yeah, sure.

I guess expecting a guy just coming off his best two seasons who was cut because he wasn't willing to renegotiate his contract with the Jets to one that was similar to what he signed on with the Chiefs for wasn't someone I should have thought was looking for a bigger payday than he got.

Dumbass.

This. I figured he would be expensive. Players don't usually look at themselves as being less valuable after having their best season.
LT is a perfect example and I dontnget why NY paid him but wouldn't pay TJ who is obviously better at this point.

BossChief
07-18-2010, 09:45 PM
Yeah, sure.

I guess expecting a guy just coming off his best two seasons who was cut because he wasn't willing to renegotiate his contract with the Jets to one that was similar to what he signed on with the Chiefs for wasn't someone I should have thought was looking for a bigger payday than he got.

Dumbass.
yeah, cause you know what they wanted him to take as a renegotiated contract. You also know they declined to match the Chiefs offer which pretty much guarantees their proposed renegotiated amount was less than what KC offered.

He also signed fairly early in free agency, leading to believe he wasn't looking for the biggest payday, he basically took the bird in the hand.

OK, lets just ASSUME he was asking for 5-7 million per year or something to be construed as starters money.

For a short term contract in an uncapped year, who cares? Front load the deal with a roster bonus so it doesnt effect your cap in the future and add a player that can be a difference maker for you in the short term.

Either way, Jones would have been a good signing.

milkman
07-18-2010, 10:15 PM
yeah, cause you know what they wanted him to take as a renegotiated contract. You also know they declined to match the Chiefs offer which pretty much guarantees their proposed renegotiated amount was less than what KC offered.

He also signed fairly early in free agency, leading to believe he wasn't looking for the biggest payday, he basically took the bird in the hand.

OK, lets just ASSUME he was asking for 5-7 million per year or something to be construed as starters money.

For a short term contract in an uncapped year, who cares? Front load the deal with a roster bonus so it doesnt effect your cap in the future and add a player that can be a difference maker for you in the short term.

Either way, Jones would have been a good signing.

We didn't know how much of a pay cut the Jets were asking Jones to take.

The figures were guesses and estimations by the media, and the contract he signed with the Chiefs was close to the guesses.

And the point was that had he signed for 5 mil a year with the Chiefs, for that kind of jack, he was going to be the starter, much as Cassel is going to start because he's making the jack.

Ralphy Boy
07-18-2010, 10:30 PM
I find it funny that he's here. His name was tossed around here back when he was on his way out in Zona quite a bit IIRC.