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. Would the Bucs draft Jameis Winston?


    You can see where this is headed, can't you?

    On one side, you have the Bucs. One win so far. Little evidence to suggest that many more are coming. A high draft pick in 2015 likely awaits.

    On the other side, there's the kid quarterback from Florida State. Equally talented and troubled. A superstar on the field and an enigma off.

    One is spiraling out of control in one direction, while the other is ascending so rapidly that he can't stay in a straight line....

    The way things are lining up, FSU’s Jameis Winston could fall in the Bucs’ lap in the 2015 draft.
  2. Jones: Royals' rise renews McRae's interest in baseball

    The Heater

    Hal McRae is 69 years old and retired these days. He lives down in Bradenton, just over the bridge from Tropicana Field. • Just over the bridge from where his office used to be. McRae managed the Devil Rays in 2001 and 2002, so you figure he gets a kick out of seeing the Rays of recent times. They are certainly more fun to watch than the bad old days. • "I don't see many Rays games,'' McRae said. • No? • "Nah, I don't watch much baseball anymore,'' McRae said. • Really? • "I've heard enough national anthems,'' he said, laughing. • McRae played, coached and managed professionally for more than 40 years — or roughly 7,000 times hearing about the land of the free and the home of the brave. • But his interest in baseball has been renewed over the past few weeks and will continue tonight when his Kansas City Royals host Game 1 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants....

    McRae spent two seasons managing the Devil Rays.
  3. Baseball's longest suffering fans


    Intriguing World Series match-up. You have the Giants, who are trying to win their third world championship in the past five years. On the other side, you have the Royals, who are making their first World Series appearance since winning it all in 1985. That also was the last time the Royals even made the playoffs. During the Royals' 8-0 run thus far in the postseason, we've seen just how passionate Royals fans can be. Up until now, they've been among the longest-suffering in baseball. The Royals still have four victories to go to totally satisfy their fans, but there are still other clubs with fans who have suffered longer and harder. Here's our pick of the 10 teams with the most suffering fans....

  4. Rays' loss of Friedman painful but not crippling



    Tuesday was not a good day for the Tampa Bay Rays. Let's just be perfectly clear about that. Andrew Friedman, the architect of the most successful era in the history of the organization, took his pie charts and spreadsheets and sharp eye for baseball to the greener pastures and greener dollars of Los Angeles. More than Evan Longoria, more than David Price, more than even manager Joe Maddon, Friedman meant more to the success of the Rays than any member of the organization. Friedman was the Rays' MVP. Taking over what might have been the worst franchise in all of sports and working on a shoestring budget, Friedman somehow patched together a team that had six consecutive winning seasons, appeared in four postseasons and even went to the World Series. And despite a losing record this past season, the Rays have enough building blocks in place to be a good team next season and beyond. The man most responsible for all of that just walked out the door, and there's absolutely no way to spin that into good news. But it doesn't mean the Rays are doomed. There's still plenty of reason for optimism and it starts with two words: Matt Silverman....

    Andrew Friedman leaves a Rays franchise that owes more to him than to anyone else for its success since 2008.
  5. Lightning is Tampa Bay's last hope for an elite franchise

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Now that is how you do it.

    Big early season game against the previously undefeated team that knocked you out of the playoffs last season and you run them out of the building.

    Lightning 7, Canadiens 1.

    Your superstar scorer (Steven Stamkos) posts a hat trick and 12 (!) shots on goal. Your star goalie (Ben Bishop) makes a bunch of big-time saves. Your workhorse defenseman (Victor Hedman) scores for the third time in three games and adds three assists. Everyone showed up....

    Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates as he scores his first goal of the season, kicking off a hat trick for the Lightning’s star center.
  6. Bucs' loss most embarrassing of season


    Most embarrassing

    This is unacceptable. Totally unworthy of your hard-earned money if you paid to go, equally unworthy of your time if you watched this three-hour debacle.

    You knew there were going to be rough patches, growing pains. You don't go from 4-12 to Super Bowl contender in a few months. But who gets beaten this badly in the NFL? This isn't college. Rarely do NFL teams get blasted the way Tampa Bay has been twice already. Three weeks after getting lit up 56-14 by the Falcons, it took another face-plant in Sunday's 48-17 loss to the Ravens....

    Phillip Thomas, 29, of Brandon, watches from the stands as the Bucs get dismantled by the Baltimore Ravens. "Horrible," Thomas called the game. "Very bad. Very very bad." [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  7. It hasn't been that great of late to be a Florida Gator


    GAINESVILLE — The words are painted in a brilliant blue with a bright orange backdrop. They form a phrase that has become the mantra for the University of Florida and all of those who love the football program.

    In the southeast corner of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field are these famous words:


    Not anymore. Not these days.

    These are lost times for Florida football, and now you can add another loss to it — Saturday night's heartbreaking 30-27 downer to LSU....

  8. Euphoric about Lightning opener against Panthers

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — One by one, they were introduced.

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper got a nice applause.

    Then came big cheers for forward Ryan Callahan and goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Victor Hedman.

    The biggest ovation came for, of course, the captain and best player, Steven Stamkos.

    The newly named Amalie Arena was all decked out in its opening-night best, the crowd was revved up and the 2014-15 Lightning stood in a circle at center ice ready to take its first strides into what many anticipate to be a special hockey season in Tampa Bay....

    Lightning wing Ryan Callahan (24) celebrates his goal after beating Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo in the third period.
  9. Lightning navigates great expectations

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Sports Illustrated has the Lightning comfortably making the playoffs.

    The Hockey News, the self-proclaimed bible of hockey, has the Lightning reaching the Stanley Cup final. So do a couple of the hockey guys over at ESPN.

    You can even find a few so-called experts out there picking the Lightning to win the whole thing.

    Never before — even going back to that magical 2003-04 Stanley Cup-winning campaign — have expectations been this high going into a season for the Lightning....

    The Lightning has, arguably, the best player in hockey in Steven Stamkos. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  10. UF correct to suspend Treon Harris


    A terrible allegation. An appropriate response.

    This is how you do it.

    If you are looking for leadership, looking for responsibility, looking for how to do things the right way, the University of Florida is showing everyone how responsible leaders are supposed to act.

    Florida quarterback Treon Harris is being investigated in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a UF student early Sunday morning, just hours after rescuing the Gators season and, perhaps, saving coach Will Muschamp's job....

    Florida quarterback Treon Harris is being investigated in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a Florida student early Sunday morning, just hours after rescuing the Gators season. [AP photo]
  11. Bucs shoot themselves in the foot with penalties


    Worst loss

    Maybe instead of passing out playbooks in training camp, Bucs coach Lovie Smith should pass out a rules book.

    The Saints and QB Drew Brees were ripe to be taken out Sunday, and the Bucs let them wriggle off the hook because they have no concept of what you are and are not allowed to do in a football game. Grabbing face masks, hands to the face, holding, lining up wrong, not paying attention to the play clock. If it was illegal, the Bucs did it Sunday. They were flagged 15 times for 113 yards....

    Mike Glennon huddles with teammates Jorvorskie Lane (46) and Doug Martin (22) during the fourth quarter. [Getty Images]
  12. Sports memories fill Superdome


    Today the Bucs are in New Orleans to play the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Or, as we all simply call it: the Superdome. The famed stadium, sadly, is perhaps best known for being the last-resort shelter for thousands during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since opening in 1975, the Superdome has hosted musical acts from the Rolling Stones to Johnny Cash to Beyonce. It has hosted Pope John Paul II, the Republican National Convention and Wrestlemania. And, naturally, it has been home to some of the greatest and most memorable moments in sports history. Here is our Two Cents picks for the most memorable sports moments of the Superdome:...

    The Saints return for their first game in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina, one of the most memorable games in MNF history. September 25, 2006 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Tonight’s game marks the first time since Hurricane Katrina struck last August, that the Superdome, which served as a temporary shelter to thousands of stranded victims in the wake of Katrina, has played host to an NFL game.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
  13. For Gators' Will Muschamp, Tennessee seems a must-win


    It wasn't all that long ago that a Florida-Tennessee showdown was one of the biggest games of the college football season.

    Not this year. In fact, it has been a while since this game truly mattered in the grand scheme of the SEC. Saturday's matchup in Knoxville likely will have no impact on the conference, let alone the national championship picture.

    But that doesn't mean this game has no implications. Actually, there's a lot riding on the outcome. What, exactly?...

    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators watches the action during the game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Will Muschamp
  14. Bucs have a right to celebrate after breakthrough win


    TAMPA — One game, one win and, suddenly, everything is just peachy again.

    For a few minutes, it's easy to forget that the Bucs' problems still far outweigh their solutions.

    The offensive line continues to have issues. The injuries continue to pile up. There are still serious doubts about whether the new offensive coordinator knows what he is doing and whether the new/old/new quarterback has what it takes to be a consistently good NFL starter....

    "It felt good,''  Lovie Smith said of his first win as head coach of the Bucs. "It's a feeling you want to have again.'' [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  15. Mike Glennon should be Bucs' starter from now on


    Best choice

    The Bucs have themselves a starting quarterback.

    In the NFL, you're not supposed to lose your job because of injury, and the only reason Mike Glennon started Sunday was because starter Josh McCown is hurt.

    Forget tradition. This isn't about losing a job to injury. It's about losing a job because someone else is better. There is no controversy here. Glennon, not McCown, should start. From now on....

    There is no controversy here. Mike Glennon, and not Josh McCown, should be the starter. From now on. [Getty Images]