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


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  1. NFL sidelines some surprising names


    Rough business, this NFL.

    One day you're a Pro Bowl player and the next you're wandering the streets, looking for work.

    Sometimes you're the flavor of the month only to find out that you're a flavor about to be discontinued.

    Forget what you did yesterday or back in college, what have you done lately, as in today?

    Job security in the NFL? There's no such thing.

    The 32 NFL teams trimmed their rosters to 53 last weekend to get ready for the season, which begins Thursday night. And there are some surprising names bouncing around at the moment....

    It feels as if some teams are passing on Michael Sam because of the perceived distraction, Tom Jones writes. [Getty Images]
  2. Shooting from the lip: ESPN's College GameDay excels again

    TV and Radio

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

    Best show

    Great to see the return of the best sports show on television — ESPN's College GameDay. Saturday's season debut didn't disappoint.

    There was a "Mean Tweets'' segment. Taken from a Jimmy Kimmel idea, college coaches such as Florida's Will Muschamp and Alabama's Nick Saban read mean tweets about themselves....

    South Florida running back Marlon Mack (5) runs the ball  for a touchdown against Western Carolina defense in the second half at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, August 30, 2014. South Florida defeated Western Carolina 36 to 31.
  3. NASCAR's Tony Stewart should sit out season

    Auto racing

    Worst decision

    Driver Tony Stewart will be back behind the wheel tonight at the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Atlanta. It's his first time competing since the sprint car he was driving at a dirt track in upstate New York struck and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9.

    I think Stewart is making a mistake. He should sit out the rest of the season.

    There is never going to be a perfect time to come back. But this unfortunate event is now a part of Stewart's legacy. Not just today, but years from now, I think it will look bad to remember that Stewart sat out only three races after Ward's death. Sitting out the "remainder of the season'' seems more respectful....

    Tony Stewart gets ready for practice for tonight’s Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Is sitting out three races enough after Stewart’s car struck and killed another driver on Aug. 9?
  4. Michael Sam story brings ESPN a shower of criticism


    A quick Two Cents tour around some of the more interesting sports topics of the day.

    All apologies

    When football player Michael Sam announced that he was gay before the NFL draft, knuckleheads immediately and shamelessly wondered what would happen when it came time for Sam to shower after practices and games.

    So on a week when Sam recorded two sacks in a preseason game for the Rams, ESPN reporter Josina Anderson talked about … Sam showering after practices and games. Anderson said on air that one player told her, " 'Sam is respecting our space.' From his perspective, he seems to think that Michael Sam is waiting to kind of take a shower, so as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable.''...

    Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams reacts after sacking the Cleveland Browns' Johnny Manziel earlier this month. [Getty Images]
  5. Mankins gives Bucs cover to not go Incognito


    TAMPA — After suffering from some sort of strange 24-hour bug that left them without their good senses and a decent chunk of their integrity, the Bucs finally snapped back to their right minds Tuesday.

    The result: It looks like Richie Incognito is not coming to Tampa Bay.

    Thank goodness.

    The Bucs have not closed the door on bringing in the biggest meathead in the NFL and the villain of last year's bullying scandal in Miami. But selling a piece of their souls to sign the former one-time Pro Bowl guard seems less likely now that the Bucs have traded for six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins....

    BRENDAN FITTERER   |   Times
  6. Two Cents: Blocking-the-plate rant; Redskins name controversy

    TV and Radio

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

    Most outspoken

    Sun Sports' top-notch Rays analyst Brian Anderson was adamant in his criticism of Major League Baseball's new rule of catchers not being able to block home plate. The play came up in the top of the 10th inning Sunday when the Rays' Logan Forsythe was thrown out at home though it appeared that Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro was blocking home plate....

    DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
  7. Strange day for Tigers' David Price



    That was weird.

    For him. For them. For us. For everyone.

    David Price stepped on the mound at Tropicana Field on Thursday and, just like always, the crowd gave him a long, rousing ovation as his walk-up music — Shawty Lo's Feels Good to Be Here — was played on the P.A. system. He was wearing that familiar No. 14 and his pant legs were hiked up high, just like always....

    The Tigers' David Price waves to his former Tampa Bay Rays teammates from the visitors dugout Thursday at Tropicana Field. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  8. Carl Crawford does good deed at Little League World Series


    We constantly get letters and phone calls here at the Tampa Bay Times, asking, "Why don't you guys print some good news once in a while?''

    It's true that, quite often, we're telling stories — very important stories — about wars and political corruption and shady citizens. Even in the Sports pages, it's hard to go a day or two without reading about some sports star punching his girlfriend or cheating on his exams or walking out of Publix without paying for crab legs....

    Carl Crawford told the Jackie Robinson West team that he would pick up all the expenses for the families from airfare to hotel rooms to food. [Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/MCT]
  9. Doug Martin the key to Bucs' offense


    TAMPA — Get the ball into his hands.

    Let him run. Let him dodge and dive, juke and jive.

    Throw it to him. Hand it to him. Pitch it to him. Do whatever you have to do. But get him the ball.

    Give him the ball any way you can, point him toward the end zone and let him do his thing.

    Running back Doug Martin is still the best offensive weapon the Bucs have, and Saturday night against the Dolphins, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford not only remembered that, but reminded all of us of that....

    Doug Martin (22) cuts through the Dolphins’ defense in the first quarter as outside linebacker Koa Misi (55) closes in. Martin plays 11/2 quarters and rushes six times for 24 yards and catches one pass for 4 yards. Martin is coming back from a shoulder injury. “I was warm, and I was getting my groove on,” he says, smiling. “I feel very good where I am right now.”
  10. Must-do list for baseball's new commissioner

    The Heater

    Major League Baseball has named a new commissioner to replace Bud Selig, who will step down in five months after a 22-year tenure.

    In the end, Rob Manfred has some serious work to do, including keeping peace with the players' union.

    But here are the (first) five things the new commissioner needs to do.

    1. Get rid of steroids

    Is the problem of PEDs in baseball better than the Wild West days when players such as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were hitting moon shots at the rate of 70 homers a season? Yes. But let's not kid ourselves. The game has not totally rid itself of the problem. As recently as last season, star players such as Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz were linked to steroids....

    FILE - AUGUST 14, 2014: Major League Baseball executive Rob Manfred elected to succeed Bud Selig as new commissioner. SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 26: Chief Operating Officer of Major League Basball Rob Manfred speaks during a Memorial Tribute To Tony Gwynn by the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 26, 2014 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) 499187149
  11. Major conference changes leave USF Bulls with uncertainty


    USF athletic director Mark Harlan says he's a glass-half-full kind of guy. He might want to fill the other half of that glass with something stiffer than club soda. Last week, the NCAA board of directors voted to approve a bunch of changes that allow schools from the biggest and richest five football conferences — the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 — to have more autonomy, especially when it comes to scholarships. If things go as expected, it will soon become the law of the land. And bad news for schools such as USF. In a nutshell: The Big Five (plus Notre Dame) will take over college sports and do things the way they want to do them. That means guaranteeing scholarships for four years, giving players stipends to cover costs beyond the usual tuition, books, room and board. It might include better health benefits and paying for parents to attend games. And you don't have to squint to see that this is a major step in eventually paying players....

    While smaller schools such as USF will be able to play under the same rules as the big guys, it just doesn't seem realistic that the little kids of college athletics will be able to compete financially with five major conferences. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  12. A history lesson for Rays fans

    The Heater

    So, it's a week later, and it would appear that Rays fans are no closer to getting over the David Price trade. On July 31, the Rays shipped the All-Star pitcher — and perhaps the best player in team history — to the Tigers for (as of now) a middle-of-the-rotation lefty, Drew Smyly; middle infielder Nick Franklin, and 18-year-old prospect Willy Adames. What's surprising isn't so much the disappointment or frustration of the fans but the outright anger, not just at major-league baseball and the economics of the game but seemingly toward Rays ownership and management. Certainly not all fans feel this way, but over the past week I've been flooded with emails and phone calls that not only have criticized the trade but have questioned the way the organization is being run. One email said the trade is just the latest example of how Rays ownership shows no respect for the fans. No respect? Are you serious?...

  13. Mike Glennon waits for shot to be Bucs QB



    He is probably the only guy in Tampa Bay who was upset to see Greg Schiano fired as coach of the Bucs.

    Mike Glennon. What a bummer.

    Schiano might have rubbed most everyone the wrong way, but he was the one coach absolutely convinced Glennon was not only the Bucs' franchise quarterback of the future, but the present.

    Schiano was Glennon's biggest fan, and you want your biggest fan wearing a headset on an NFL sideline, not a headset behind a desk at NFL Network....

    Mike Glennon throws a pass during Bucs training camp. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  14. For Bucs, success hinges on offensive line overhaul


    TAMPA — When a professional football team goes on the road, know who typically sits in first class?

    The offensive linemen.

    Got to take care of the big fellas. Everyone knows that an offense is only as good as its offensive line.

    "Critical,'' Bucs tackle Anthony Collins said. "Very critical.''

    Collins is spot on. NFL teams might be able to get away with having an okay quarterback or so-so receivers. You don't always need an elite running back or even a good defense....

    Tackle Emmett Cleary, left, hits a pad held by Demar Dotson, right. [DANIEL WALLACE   |   Times]
  15. Tampa Bay trades in another icon in David Price deal

    The Heater

    The past year has not been easy here in Tampa Bay. Think about it. We have lost three of the most iconic, three of the best, three of the most popular athletes in Tampa Bay sports history. It started last summer, when the Lightning bought out the contract of captain Vinny Lecavalier, the face of the franchise. Then came the spring, when the man who replaced Lecavalier as captain, Marty St. Louis, demanded a trade and ended up going to the Rangers. Then came Thursday, when David Price, certainly the best pitcher and, arguably, the greatest player in Rays history, was shipped to the Tigers in a trade-deadline deal. In these parts, we know them by nicknames and initials: Vinny. Marty. DP. But they no longer belong to us. Our superstars are now somebody else's — Vinny in Philadelphia, Marty in New York and DP in Detroit. Who is left?...

    DIRK SHADD   |  Times (2010)