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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

Email: tjones@tampabay.com

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

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  1. Tom Jones: Christmas gifts for area sports figures

    News

    Good morning and happy holidays.

    As many celebrate Christmas this morning by opening gifts from under the quickly dried-out and brittle tree, let's not forget about our local sports stars and personalities. Here is what we hope they are unwrapping on this holiday morning.

    Tampa Bay Rays front office

    A slice of humble pie. Perhaps the Rays won't be hungry, seeing as how they want to have their cake and eat it, too, with their stance on getting out of one part of their Tropicana Field lease while staying true to the part about getting half the revenue from developmental rights around the stadium. After watching the arrogance some have shown with this stadium mess, they could use some humble pie. Save the first big bite for Rays president Brian Auld....

    Bucs head coach Lovie Smith leaves the field at Raymond James Stadium after November's loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
  2. 2014 was a good year for wacky sports stories

    News

    The weird. The wacky. The bizarre. The just plain dumb and funny. Usually this time of year, we look back at the special athletes and the great moments of the year. But it's also time to look back at the offbeat sports of 2014. Enjoy.

    They're collector's items

    Moments after the BCS championship game between Auburn and Florida State, the FSU online store was selling T-shirts that read "Tigers 34 Noles 31.'' You would think the winning school would get the winning score right, right? FSU — that would be the 'Noles — won 34-31....

  3. Tom Jones' top 10 national sports stories

    News

    As with every year, there were many great moments in sports in 2014. There were memorable individual performances, superb team accomplishments and examples of tremendous courage, as shown by a brave football player from the University of Missouri. But there were troubling moments as well, including the bigoted comments of an owner, and a league sent reeling by how its stars treated women and children. Here's our pick of the top national sports stories of the year, starting with the darkest days in NFL history....

    Getty Images
  4. Jones: Bucs' lousy offense sinks to new depths vs. Packers

    Bucs

    Worst offense

    For much of Sunday's loss to the Packers, the Bucs were actually close in terms of the score. It was 10-3 headed to the fourth quarter. Yet you never had the feeling the Bucs were anywhere close to being able to win.

    That's because their normally lousy offense found new depths in the 20-3 loss. They have two plays that have even a remote chance of working. One is sending rookie WR Mike Evans down the sideline and simply throwing the ball in the air. The other is the same play with Vincent Jackson running long....

    Doug Martin and the Bucs rushed for 16 yards. They ended up with only 109 yards of total offense. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  5. The year in Tampa Bay sports

    Sports

    If we lived in San Francisco or San Antonio, we would be talking about Giants and Spurs and dynasties. If we were in Los Angeles, we would be talking about the Kings winning the Stanley Cup. If we were in Seattle, we would be talking Super Bowl. But here in Tampa Bay, our sports stories are more about what happened away from the arena than in it. Firings, departures, hirings and trades. That's the focus for our look back at the local year in sports, including the loss of some of our most beloved sports figures....

    Marty St. Louis returned to Tampa last month with his new team, the Rangers — the only team he would accept a trade to in the spring.
  6. Wil Myers trade not as crazy as it sounds

    The Heater

    Surely Matt Silverman has lost his mind. That's your first thought.

    Why in the world would the Rays' boss trade a young slugger, a potential superstar who was the American League rookie of the year just two seasons ago? Especially when that slugger is only 24 years old. Especially when you have a team that always seems to be in search of a big bat. Especially when you gave up big-game pitcher James Shields to get him. And especially when that slugger is still pretty cheap for a franchise that's always counting pennies....

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9) strikes out swinging in the bottom of the ninth inning, leaving designated hitter Logan Forsythe (10) on, to end the Oakland Athletics against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The A's beat the Rays 3-2
  7. Rays managing job takes Kevin Cash back home

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Emily Cash was sitting in her car at stoplight in Avon Lake, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. Her daughters, 8-year-old Camden and 6-year-old Ella, were in the backseat, fresh from a trip to the dentist.

    Her husband, Kevin, called to say he was on his way home. Great, she thought, he could pay the babysitter, who was watching their 1-year-old son, J.D.

    "What else is going on?" Emily asked....

    Jim Jardon, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Rays game last season, is Kevin Cash’s 97-year-old grandfather.
  8. Bucs giving their all, though losses more beneficial

    Bucs

    Whew. That was a little too close. But the Bucs woke up in time to go back to sleep.

    The dream of a No. 1 pick is still alive thanks to a much-closer-than-it-really-was 19-17 loss at Carolina on Sunday. With that, the Bucs are all set to limp to a finish with a 2-14 record and end up with a great pick in the 2015 NFL draft, maybe even the first pick overall.

    The Bucs tried to win Sunday. Really, they did. Who could blame them? They're professionals. Some are fighting for jobs. Most, if not all, have pride. You can't blame them for trying, but really, the organization is better off with a loss....

    Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson reaches for a pass while trying to fend off Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere.
  9. New role won't silence Lightning's Bobby 'The Chief' Taylor

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    It's the end of an era.

    For nearly every Lightning season, Bobby "The Chief'' Taylor has come into our living rooms, using a Telestrator to teach us hockey and his engaging personality to entertain us on countless winter nights.

    On television, he is part professor and part fan, passing along need-to-know information while occasionally grading the performance of a numbskull referee by yelling, "What a joke!''...

    Longtime Lightning color analyst Bobby “The Chief” Taylor will move out of the booth next season into other Lightning TV duties that will give him more time to teach the game to viewers.
  10. Bobby 'The Chief' Taylor to switch roles on Lightning TV

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The end of an era is coming.

    Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, who has been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94, is walking away from the booth. Taylor announced Wednesday that this will be his last season as a color commentator on Lightning broadcasts.

    But Taylor isn't going away completely. He is expected to still appear on Lightning broadcasts during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as intermissions. The idea of switching roles first came up over the summer and Taylor made the decision this week to move to a spot where he can do more teaching with the Telestrator and analysis....

    Bobby "The Chief" Taylor announced Wednesday that this will be his last season as a color commentator on Lightning broadcasts. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  11. Tom Jones: College football playoff committee seems to have it right

    College

    The first-ever college football playoff is set. On Jan. 1, FSU will play Oregon in the Rose Bowl and Alabama will face Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Meantime, Baylor and TCU are back in Texas and spittin' mad over being left out of the party. Here's a Two Cents look at the committee's decision and what it means.

    Did the committee get it right?

    The answer likely depends on where you are from....

    Jameis Winston celebrates after the Florida State Seminoles' 37-35 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the ACC Championship game on Dec. 6, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C. [Getty Images]
  12. Bucs' offense embarrasses itself again

    Sports

    Biggest boneheads

    Each week the Bucs offense finds a new way to embarrass itself.

    Last week it was the 12-men-on-the-field penalty that wiped out any chance for a winning field goal in the final seconds against the Bengals.

    Sunday's play in the 34-17 loss to the Lions didn't cost the Bucs the game, but it was just about as embarrassing: They needed to call timeout before the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Seriously, how does that happen? After a halftime to get ready, how can you be so unprepared and confused that you have to burn a timeout before you even run a play?...

    Safety Major Wright glances up at the scoreboard late in fourth quarter of the Bucs’ latest loss.
  13. Rays invest future in Kevin Cash

    The Heater

    Say this for Matt Silverman: The guy has guts.

    Not many baseball executives would have had the nerve to do what he did Friday. In his first big hire since taking over baseball operations for the Rays, he is swinging for the fences.

    After losing, arguably, the best manager in baseball, Silverman is handing the keys of the franchise over to a kid who has never filled out a lineup card before....

    Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, left, and bullpen coach Kevin Cash watch during spring training baseball in Goodyear, Ariz.  Cash was hired as the new manager of the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) NY160
  14. Jim McElwain gives Gators ingredients for success

    College

    He is not a member of coaching royalty and unless you follow college football pretty closely, you don't know much about him.

    He doesn't have a familiar and hip coach's name such as Urban or Jimbo or Chip. He hasn't done enough in this business to get a cool nickname such as the Mad Hatter or the Head Ball Coach. He doesn't have the pedigree of his old boss, Nick Saban. The highlight of his head-coaching career was a victory in something called the New Mexico Bowl....

    Head coach Jim McElwain of the Colorado State Rams leaves the field after his victory over the New Mexico Lobos on November 22, 2014 in Fort Collins, Colorado [Getty]
  15. Bucs coach Lovie Smith failing at instilling discipline

    Bucs

    TAMPA — They don't line up right. They don't know the snap count. They don't know the rules.

    For crying out loud, they don't even know how many players you're allowed to have on the field.

    The Bucs are the dumbest, most undisciplined team in the NFL, and there is one man to blame for that: Lovie Smith — you know, the head coach.

    This is his team, his responsibility. He's the one in charge....

    “I’m doing everything I possibly can to get this fixed,” coach Lovie Smith says of the Bucs’ self-destructive penalties.