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Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones writes columns and television/radio commentary for the Tampa Bay Times' Sports section. He has covered everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports since starting with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1986. After the Independent, Tom worked at the Times (1987-91), the Tampa Tribune (1991-96), the Times again (1996-2000), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2000-03) and returned for his third stint at the Times in 2003. Though he has covered all sports, Tom is a hockey writer at heart. He covered the Tampa Bay Lightning from its first game in 1992 until moving to Minnesota to cover the Wild for three years. He returned to the Times again to cover the Lightning until taking over as writer and editor for Page Two in 2006. He lists Herb Brooks, Lou Piniella and Wayne Gretzky as the most interesting personalities he has covered and the 2002 Winter Olympics as the best event he has covered. Tom co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM. He previously hosted a weekly sports roundtable show on Bright House Sports Network.

Phone: (727) 893-8544


Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

  1. Lightning fans see red over Red Wings fans

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — With 8:01 left in the first period of Thursday night's Lightning-Red Wings showdown, a puck with eyes found its way into the net to tie the score, and a loud roar vibrated through the building.

    But here's the strange thing: The goal wasn't scored by the Lightning, and this wasn't Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. This was Amalie Arena, home of the Lightning. On Thursday night, the Lightning had a time-share with the Red Wings....

    Red Wings fans cheer Detroit’s first — and only — goal against the Lightning. As usual for a Wings game at Amalie Arena, the crowd was split at least 50-50, if not tilted toward Detroit.
  2. Baseball commissioner needs to shift his position

    The Heater

    Maybe Peyton Manning should be forced to throw left-handed because he's too good at throwing righty. Perhaps Floyd Mayweather should throw only jabs because his hooks are too lethal. From now on, Steven Stamkos can't take one-timers because he scores too many goals.

    In Rob Manfred's world, that's how sports should work.

    Manfred has been the commissioner of Major League Baseball for two days and, already, his logic makes no sense and could be a serious threat to the Rays' ability to compete....

    Rob Manfred has been the commissioner of Major League Baseball for all of one day and, already, his logic makes little sense and could become a serious threat to the Rays’ ability to compete, Tom Jones writes. [AP photo] 
  3. ESPN's Mark Brunell brings strong views on Deflategate

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best analyst

    No one had a stronger week than ESPN NFL analyst Mark Brunnell. He became a star during ESPN's coverage of the Deflategate scandal. He received some criticism for being overly emotional, but I liked his passion and honesty.

    All week Brunnell's comments were quick and strong, even when he was going after one of his own. It's unusual to see one quarterback go after another, but Brunnell was not afraid to essentially call Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a liar and then go into great detail about why he didn't believe many of the things coming out of Brady's mouth....

    Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tried to, well, deflate “Deflategate” last week but to little avail.
  4. NHL midseason report

    Lightning Strikes

    The NHL All-Star Game is this afternoon in Columbus, Ohio. So this seems like a perfect time to look back at what we've seen so far this season and what we can expect down the stretch.

    Biggest surprise (team)

    There are a few surprise teams. After missing the playoffs last season, the Predators have rallied to lead the Central Division. The Jets surprisingly would make the playoffs if they started now. But the biggest surprise are the Islanders, who are on top of the Metropolitan Division, ahead of big boys such as the Penguins and Rangers. Thanks to the goaltending of Jaroslav Halak and the scoring of John Tavares, who will win a Hart Trophy some day, this the first time in more than 20 years the Islanders have been in first place at the All-Star break....

    Carolina Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin (28), of Russia waits for play to continue during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
  5. NFL should suspend Bill Belichick for Super Bowl


    They cheated. Plain and simple. The New England Patriots cheated. • They deflated footballs so their golden-boy quarterback could throw them better. • They cheated and now they have to pay. • Forget fines, forget docking draft picks. If you want to stop a cheater, you punish the cheater. Severely. • The NFL should suspend coach Bill Belichick for the Super Bowl. • Maybe then the man who is already a proven cheater (remember Spygate?) will finally learn that you can't thumb your nose at the NFL and play by your own set of rules. • "The league is based on fairness in competition, so this is a huge, huge issue — a huge issue,'' said NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly, a former NFL general manager who used to serve on the league's competition committee. "This is at the highest level of the league because it is competitiveness of the game and fairness of the game.''...

    If you want to stop a cheater, you punish the cheater. Severely. The NFL should suspend coach Bill Belichick for the Super Bowl, Tom Jones writes. [Getty Images]
  6. Super Bowl XLIX's all about Patriots


    For the next two weeks, as has become the annual custom in our football-crazed country, we will be subjected to endless stories about countless topics when it comes to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona on Feb. 1.

    Sad stories, happy stories. Tales of redemption and yarns of rejection. You'll hear about the underrated, the under­estimated and the overachievers. You will hear about the charmed lives of some and the hard-luck lives of others....

    Both Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have a chance to win a record-tying fourth Super Bowl.
  7. Two Cents: Cautionary tale of '85 Chicago Bears


    Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best cautionary tale

    The 1985 Chicago Bears are one of football's legendary teams and will be remembered on the upcoming HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, which debuts Tuesday night at 10 p.m.

    Bears fans will fondly recall the good old days of the Super Bowl Shuffle and crazy characters. But this team is also a prime example of how the violent world of professional football can have devastating long-term effects on the body and mind. This Bears team included safety Dave Duerson, who committed suicide because of depression that many believe was caused by concussions and other football injuries....

    Former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon has talked about memory issues after an NFL career in which he suffered numerous concussions.
  8. Australian Open preview


    tom jones' two cents

    On Monday, the tennis season gets started in earnest down under with the Australian Open. The first of the four majors has two unlikely reigning champions, including one who won't be around to defend the title. To get you ready, Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones offers up the answers to a dozen burning questions.

    Who is the men's favorite?...

    Russia’s Maria Sharapova looks to make a forehand return during a practice session on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Baker) XMB111
  9. NHL's dog days can be dangerous for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Thank goodness for the Edmonton Oilers. The schedule-makers cut the Lightning a big break Thursday night by inviting the league's worst team — think of the Oilers as the Bucs of the NHL — to Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay sputtered, stumbled and bumbled but still somehow managed to snap its two-game losing streak with a nothing-to-brag-about 3-2 victory.

    But make no mistake, these are dangerous times for the Lightning....

    Lightning defensemen Anton Stralman, front, and Mark Barberio jostle with the Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in a 3-2 victory.
  10. Retooled Rays still believe they can contend

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The other day, Rays broadcaster Dave Wills joked that he will have to spend the rest of the offseason learning the Rays lineup for 2015.

    Most of you don't find that funny.

    It has been a rough couple of months for Rays fans. From the sound of things, most you aren't too happy. This roster overhaul hasn't gone over too well.

    Pitchers and catchers haven't even reported, and some already are dreading that the Rays are about to slip back to the last-place days of the Devil Rays....

    Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera is one of several veterans the Rays have acquired to help them compete this season.
  11. Shooting from lip: Collinsworth's kiss-up, analyzing Dez Bryant catch reversal

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Boldest announcer

    Questioning play calls. Putting people in the Hall of Fame while they are still playing. Offering excuses for injured players (well, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, anyway). Man, Fox NFL announcer Joe Buck sure sounds like an analyst, not a play-by-play man....

    Packers QB Aaron Rodgers gets a little too much game-day love from Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
  12. Tom Jones' Two Cents: He's a college football playoff convert


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones gives his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    Best system

    I have to admit, I was dead set against a college football playoff.

    I thought a playoff would cheapen the regular season, which is the best regular season in sports. And I thought the BCS was right more often than not. From my perspective, the two best teams— and more important, the two most deserving teams — usually played for the national title....

    FSU quarterback Jameis Winston gets knocked out of bounds by Oregon defenders in their college football playoff semifinal Jan. 1. That game and the Ohio State-Alabama semifinal, both on ESPN, became the most-watched programs in cable television history.
  13. Rays' trade of Ben Zobrist a sad day

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — This one stings.

    When David Price was traded, that was hard. When Andrew Friedman left, that was shocking. When Joe Maddon walked away, that was weird.

    But this one? This one just hurts.

    Ben Zobrist is gone. The Rays traded him Saturday, and now this offseason truly does feel like the end of an era in Tampa Bay.

    Sometimes when people talk about a particular athlete, they say, "As good of a player as he is, he's an even better person.''...

    Ben Zobrist walks the runway at a charity event last year with wife Julianna, who was a prominent part of his Rays tenure.
  14. For Ohio State's Urban Meyer, success keeps mounting


    Call him Urban Legend.

    Urban Meyer. Best coach in the land?

    Gators fans, of course, don't want to even think about that. They have other names for him:

    Urban Liar. Urban Crier.

    All they know is he used to be their coach and now he is not. Something about being burned out and wanting to spend more time with his family.

    Well, that's sort of true if being "burned out'' means tired of coaching in the SEC and "spending more time with the family'' means coaching at Ohio State....

    Urban Meyer is trying to become the second coach to win national titles at two schools.
  15. Should Bucs take chance on Jameis Winston?


    What happened, Jameis? • Tell us. Look us in the eye and tell us what you remember from that night. You were accused of some pretty nasty stuff. Use your own words. Take as much time as you need. But tell us everything you remember about the night you were accused of sexually assaulting that young woman. • Remember the time you walked out of Publix without paying for those crab legs? What were you thinking? How about the time you stood up on that table and yelled out those vulgar comments? Why did you do that? • Didn't you shoot off a BB gun or something? Talk about that. • Tell us, Jameis. Tell us everything. Tell us what you were thinking. • Most of all, tell us who you are. • And with questions like that, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can get started on figuring out if Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the franchise quarterback they've been looking for since forever. • Winston announced Wednesday that he will enter the 2015 NFL draft. And before the Bucs can decide what they want to do with the first overall pick in the draft, they need answers. Lots of them....

    If you're looking for the quarterback who seems best equipped to step on an NFL right now and be a success, Jameis Winston appears to be that guy, Tom Jones writes. [Getty Images]