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Where Are They Now--Mike Jones

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  • Where Are They Now--Mike Jones

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Mike Jones made the biggest tackle in St. Louis Rams’ history. Now, he is grooming the next generation of game-saving tacklers at Hazelwood East. Every day he shows the young high schoolers how to wrap up as he did against Tennessee receiver Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl XXXIV and many other times in his career.

    Jones retired after a stint with Pittsburgh in 2002. After attempting to catch on with a few more teams, the former Missouri Tiger moved on to other endeavors. He played 13 seasons in the NFL with Oakland, St. Louis and the Steelers. As a sort of sports hero in Missouri, Jones carries instant credibility anywhere he goes.

    From his four-year (1987-1991) career at Missouri to his three years with the Rams, Jones is known across the state for a variety of reasons.

    None of those reasons, though, is as big as what has come to be known simply as “The Tackle.” With the Rams leading 23-16 and the Titans driving for the tie, Jones was left with the unenviable task of stopping one of the most difficult patterns in football.

    Dyson lined up wide to the right and when quarterback Steve McNair took the snap, Dyson burst off the line with a quick slant across the middle of the field. Jones read the play and reacted calmly, dashing toward Dyson from the right, wrapping him up around the waist and working down to the legs.

    Many times, a receiver can break a tackle because of the momentum from the route, but not Dyson, not against Jones, not on that day. Part by part, Dyson fell to the ground. He fell a yard short, the Rams became Super Bowl champions and Jones became a hero.

    Pictures of the play with the phrase “The Tackle” can be found in gas stations, homes or restaurants anywhere in the state. Jones even has fans in Chiefs’ country, for he graduated from Kansas City’s Southwest High.

    Jones said he doesn’t mind being known for making the big play; after all, it beats the alternative.

    “I have people ask me that all the time, but the way I look at it, it could have been worse,” Jones said. “I could have been the guy that missed the tackle. It’s funny because I have people come up and thank me for making the tackle. They thank me for doing something I was supposed to do.”

    With Jones’ extensive experience in the game, it made perfect sense for him to get in to coaching. Jones turned down offers to coach in NFL Europe and a few other small schools before staying in St. Louis at Hazelwood East with his wife and kids. After all, it was the Gateway City where he became a household name.

    Jones’ activities off the field, though, are as big a part of him as his desire to be on it. He runs free football clinics for children in St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia and has started the Michael Jones Foundation. He teams up with other charities to have basketball games that raise money for both parties, including a game in Columbia pitting his team against a Columbia All-Star team. That game raises money for his foundation and the Columbia’s Youth Scholarship Fund. Jones’ foundation recently kicked off a football league for kids all over the St. Louis area, featuring 11 organizations.

    With Jones’ background teaching kids how to play football, he has run the clinics since his fourth year in the NFL, maybe it isn’t a surprise he is working with kids again.

    “I like working with high schoolers,” Jones said. “They are old enough that they can learn the game and I get to teach it. I am learning from them, too.”

    Jones’ teachings on the field will no doubt come in handy to the Spartans’ defense, but judging by his work and experiences off the field, those kids will walk away from their high school days with two valuable educations.

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  • RamWraith
    Punting Without Peer
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Five years ago, a low line drive punt traveling 41 yards that netted just 12 yards such as the one Donnie Jones booted in the first quarter against San Francisco on Nov. 16, would have been enough to drive Jones to a point of frustration that would have ruined him for the rest of the game.

    Such is the fragile psyche of a young punter in the NFL. At one of the few positions in the NFL where success or failure can be instantly recognized by anyone watching, it’s up to the punter to immediately put the previous punt – good or bad – in the rearview mirror.

    “I’d go in the toilet,” Jones said. “I was bad. I thought I was going to get cut. Then it would kind of snowball.”

    Since arriving in St. Louis on April 25, 2007 as a free agent, that snowball has apparently melted.

    In his first season as a Ram, Jones posted one of the finest seasons by a punter in franchise history. His 47.2 yard average was the highest season average in franchise history and helped him finish second in the NFC and third in the NFL in that category.

    And for as good as Jones was in 2007, he appears poised to take those numbers to a new level.

    Through 12 games, Jones leads the NFL with a 49.7 yard average on 63 punts. Perhaps more impressive and a testament to the hang time and angle of his punts in addition to the distance is Jones’ 40.7 net average which is good for third in the league and first in the NFC in that category.

    “I do think he’s a Pro Bowler,” coach Jim Haslett said. “There are a couple things. One, he has a live leg, a really live leg. He’s a big guy, he’s powerful. He can control the ball well, he can spot it, he can place it where he wants to. If he wants to kick it deep, he can kick it high. He can do almost anything he wants. I think Donnie feels good about it; he can’t punt it down there. We don’t have to worry about punting it out of bounds or sideways if we have a great returner. We punt to the best. The coverage units have been doing a good job and obviously he has a heck of a leg on him.”

    Just 26 games into his career as a Ram, it’s safe to say the days of fretting over being released or where his next opportunity might come are a thing of the past for Jones.

    “When I got here I finally said ‘Listen, you kicked a bad one so what are you going to do now?’” Jones said. “Are you going to sit there and sulk and say oh what am I going to do? I used to do all of that stuff and it kills you. Your head is not even in the game so you hit a bad one, it’s over. It’s a new game, go back out, start over and do it. The bad ones are going to happen. As much as you don’t want them to happen, they just do for some reason. You have to get over it.”


    The process of remembering to forget has been many years in...
    -12-04-2008, 05:38 AM
  • RamWraith
    Vermeil will help honor ex-Ram Jones
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz

    Dick Vermeil, who coached the 1999 Rams to a Super Bowl championship, will be back in town Friday to honor his former Rams linebacker, Mike Jones.

    Jones, of course, saved the Rams' 23-16 victory over Tennessee with a fundamentally perfect tackle of Titans receiver Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line on the final play of the Super Bowl.

    In an event that's being billed as a tribute to "The Tackle," Vermeil will be on hand at noon Friday to attend a luncheon at the St. Charles Convention Center. Vermeil will reflect on that special season and the best defensive play ever made in a Super Bowl.

    Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who taught Jones how to play linebacker in the NFL in Oakland, has been invited to discuss the team's prospects for 2006.

    For the last 13 seasons, Jones has used his success on the field to provide more than 10,000 children with the opportunity to attend his Life Skills Football Camps, free of charge, as part of the Michael Jones Foundation. Jones has increased those efforts since retiring from the NFL.

    Jones has rebounded from some bad and largely unfair publicity. In 2002, Jones' foundation received a portion of funds that were seized when federal agents broke up a prostitution ring in the Metro East area. The understanding was that Jones would help improve the low-income community of Brooklyn by constructing a grocery store and a clothing store. But after Brooklyn officials discouraged Jones from building the businesses, he switched and tried to construct a home for a poor family instead.

    In a hearing last month in federal court in East St. Louis, District Judge Michael J. Reagan praised Jones' good-hearted intentions but said the money had to be used for its original purpose - for projects to benefit the entire community rather than one family.

    "I think you were doing the right thing, it was just the wrong thing for this money," Reagan told Jones in court. Reagan added that Jones did nothing illegal, but still had to follow the guidelines. Jones agreed to repay the $30,000.

    "I didn't do anything wrong with the money," Jones said. "It was just a mixup in understanding what I could or could not do. I screwed up by not clearing my plan with the judge ahead of time. We could have avoided all of this. I was just trying to help a poor family, but it was the wrong way to do it."

    Anyone who knows Jones realizes he's a man of character. And he's still trying to enrich lives. The Michael Jones Foundation is busy building nine homes in the 22nd ward of St. Louis.

    Before the luncheon, Vermeil will be a featured speaker at a "Commit to Growth" Conference. Jones and career planning expert Ed Watkins created "Growth Playbook" for people who lack planning...
    -06-17-2006, 08:21 AM
  • MauiRam
    Barrett Jones healthy and ready to compete
    by MauiRam
    By Nick Wagoner

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As fourth round picks go, St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Barrett Jones brought with him one of the most impressive college résumés you're ever going to find.

    In a decorated collegiate career at Alabama, Jones was an integral part of three national title teams and won nearly every major award a lineman can take home, including the Outland and Rimington trophies. Along with that, he also carried an inherent amount of expectations.

    So when Jones' rookie season amounted to little more than a redshirt year as he recovered from foot surgery, the adjustment was a big one.

    "It was frustrating but it was also a learning experience," Jones said. "Last year was great from the standpoint of I grew a lot, not only as a player but also as a person. It’s tough when you kind of go from the top of the totem pole in college and then you go into the bottom in the NFL and you have to carry pads and things like that."

    As it turned out, carrying pads was about the extent of Jones' on-field activities in 2013. Before arriving in St. Louis, he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot in the SEC championship game during his senior year and played through the injury in the BCS title game. He had surgery soon after the season but needed additional cleanup work before he could even get going with the Rams.

    Jones went five months without being able to run, which severely limited his ability to get in shape and go through a normal workout routine. Jones lost muscle, gained the wrong kinds of weight and was essentially cut off from doing any sort of workouts involving his lower body.

    The Rams drafted Jones knowing full well that his rehab would take some time and were well-prepared to be patient with him in his rookie season. He was inactive the first 13 games of the season and only made sporadic appearances on special teams in the final three games after injuries to other linemen left Jones as one of few options remaining on the roster.

    While Jones was an active participant in meeting rooms, he simply hadn't had enough opportunities to translate those lessons to the field. Believing that Jones didn't have enough repetitions and that he wasn't prepared to handle the physical nature of the league, the Rams resisted the urge to insert Jones into the lineup before he was ready.

    It was an assessment Jones understood.

    "I didn’t have any problem memorizing what to do but there’s just a certain amount of times you have to see something in person to be able to do it in football," Jones said. "It’s a totally different view watching it on film and seeing it and making the calls than it is from down on the ground where it’s not as easy to see what’s going on and it’s all happening way faster.

    "It’s got to become instinct. When you see something happen,...
    -06-08-2014, 12:58 PM
  • RamWraith
    Deacon Jones - 'Secretary Of Defense'
    by RamWraith
    Khalil Garriott

    Deacon Jones - 'Secretary Of Defense' Making A Difference

    David "Deacon" Jones is a living legend in every sense of the term.

    Having already become a gridiron great on the football field, Jones has shifted his focus to giving back to young people. He is president and CEO of the Deacon Jones Foundation (, which "is committed to developing young, educated, talented, intelligent, accomplished people who understand their commitment to the inner-city communities from which they come, and have the tools and the desire to return," according to the foundation's Web site.

    Jones was truly a pioneer during his time, using his speed and toughness to harass quarterbacks from his defensive end position. He revolutionized that position, so much so that he's credited with the term "sack" that today defines the success of defensive linemen. His personal accolades and honors are seemingly never-ending, but perhaps it's his absence in only five games over a 14-year NFL career that best represents how Jones played the game.

    "I've had a heck of a life," Jones said, laughing.

    While he could easily sit back and rest on the laurels he achieved as one of the best defensive ends of all-time, Jones has done the opposite since retiring from football. By using his personal story as a man who overcame hardships while living in a low-income area to become a Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jones is an inspiration to those less fortunate.

    "Coming from a poor, inner-city neighborhood myself, I have an intimate knowledge of all of the problems people face there," Jones said on his Web site. "When kids from the ghetto enter college and the workplace, they don't know a thing about what they hear. And they are never told exactly what their commitment to their own neighborhoods must be."

    Now approaching age 69, Jones has retired—in a sense. He, of course, doesn't put on the pads and helmet anymore, but hasn't shown many signs of slowing down with his foundation and work in the community.

    "I retired two years ago from a lot of active stuff but I'm running my foundation and doing a lot of charity work," he said. "I have the Deacon Jones Foundation which is the inner-city scholarship program I run. I have different events all year, so I work those, then I help a lot of the other guys in the league who have programs. I still do some public appearances, but not too many anymore," he continued.

    Jones, an outspoken and incomparable leader for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins, had about as distinguished a career as a player can have. During his best years with the Rams, he garnered a couple nicknames that still stick to this day. Known as the "Secretary...
    -03-16-2007, 05:06 AM
  • RamWraith
    Jones Making Pro Bowl Push
    by RamWraith
    Monday, November 5, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Making St. Louis a permanent home or at least a long-term venture has been nearly impossible for the laundry list of punters that have booted the ball for the Rams since they moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    Consider the names Sean Landeta, Will Brice, Mike Horan, Rick Tuten, John Baker, Mitch Berger, Landeta again, Kevin Stemke, Reggie Hodges, Bryan Barker and Matt Turk. Some of those names had a little success but were near the end of their playing days. Others, the majority, simply didn’t get the job done.

    Enter Donnie Jones, who in his first season with the Rams has been one of the team’s most valuable players. Through nine weeks, Jones is tied with Oakland’s Shane Lechler for the league lead in punting average.

    The Rams signed Jones, who was a restricted free agent for Miami, to a four-year contract during the offseason. The idea at the time was to find a punter that could provide much needed stability to a position that has had none since the Rams got to St. Louis.

    When the Dolphins declined to match the offer sheet, the Rams had the man they thought could provide it.

    “Knowing that he is going to be here for an extended period of time really solves that revolving door thing that we have had at the punter spot here,” coach Scott Linehan said.

    Call the match between the Rams and Jones a perfect fit. While the Rams have longed to find a punter with long term potential, Jones spent the first three years of his NFL career looking for the right fit for him.

    Jones was a seventh round choice (No. 224 overall) of Seattle in the 2004 NFL Draft. Jones didn’t make the roster out of camp, but showed enough to land on the practice squad. After that, he went back and forth between the practice squad and the active roster, playing in six games and punting 26 times.

    That performance wasn’t enough to land him a spot the following season as the Dolphins claimed Jones on waivers on July 25, 2005.

    Jones had hoped landing in Miami would be a better situation. Instead, it got worse. Jones pieced together two solid seasons, averaging 43.5 and 42.8 yards per punt in his two seasons in Miami.

    Assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman asked Jones to revamp his mechanics, surprising considering Jones’ success and Hoffman’s lack of experience as a punter himself (he had none).

    When the Rams came calling, it was a no brainer for Jones to sign the deal and get out of South Beach as fast as possible.

    “It’s been a good change for me,” Jones said. “I try to work hard and do my part and help us win field position.”

    The change for Jones has extended to places outside of football. Jones and wife Aubrie had their first child at 4:16 p.m. on Oct. 22. Weston Jones checked in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces...
    -11-06-2007, 02:42 PM