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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. Oakland Raiders-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Evaluating the greatest trade in Tampa Bay sports history


    The greatest trade in the history of Tampa Bay sports didn't involve one single player.

    Monday, Feb. 18, 2002. The Tampa Bay Bucs traded two first-round draft picks, two second-rounders and $8 million to Oakland to get coach Jon Gruden.

    In the short term, the deal was a winner for both teams as Gruden got both teams to the next Super Bowl. In the first season after the trade, Gruden's new team beat his old team soundly in Super Bowl XXXVII....

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden raises the Superbowl trophy as he is introduced at halftime, for the 10th anniversary of the game. GAME SUMMARY: The Philadelphia Eagles play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles won 23-21. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
  2. Jones: It's up to LeBron to derail Warriors' dream team


    Once he was a part of the problem.

    Now he is a part of the solution.

    LeBron James. Oh, save us, LeBron. Save us from the dreaded Dream Team known as the Golden State Warriors. You're our only hope to keep a fantasy team made up of All-Stars and constructed by gobs of money and greed and selfishness from turning the NBA, which opened play Tuesday night, into a season of yawns.

    This a Warriors team that won an NBA regular season-record 73 games and then added, arguably, the second-best player on the planet in Kevin Durant. The Warriors would have won the NBA title last season, but one man stopped them: LeBron....

  3. Jones: Believe it or not, Bucs are starting to look like a good team


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — One by one, they raced off the field and down the hall into the visitors locker room at Levi's Stadium.

    "Great victory, fellas!" yelled receiver Russell Shepard.

    "Yessir! Yessir!" said tackle Donovan Smith.

    Linebacker Lavonte David simply nodded, looking like he had just kicked in the swinging doors of an old-time Western saloon and was looking for someone else to take out....

    Bucs defensive end William Gholston sacks 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was harassed for much of the day.
  4. Bucs-49ers report card


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Bucs playing on the West Coast is like the Titanic going on the road to play the iceberg. Not good.

    Tampa Bay's away record against the 49ers was 2-12. Make that three wins now after Sunday's 34-17 victory. The Bucs fell behind 14-0 but then ripped off 27 unanswered points.

    Turned out to be a heck of a trip. Beautiful weather. Awesome scenery. And a victory. So give the travel agent an A for setting up a nice trip, and now here are some other grades from Tampa Bay's victory....

    How many receivers in the game are better than the Bucs' Mike Evans? Not very many, Tom Jones writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Instant analysis: Bucs fall behind early, rally big to pound 49ers 34-17


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Hey, ho, what do you know, the Bucs are back to .500.

    After losing three straight, the Bucs rallied to win their second in a row with a solid 34-17 victory Sunday over the 49ers. And they are now 3-3 and very much in contention in the NFC South. What's even more interesting is Tampa Bay has collected all three wins on the road.

    The Bucs now need to figure out how to win at home, where they are 0-2. The next three are at home, and it's a great opportunity to make a big-time move into playoff position heading down the second half....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard (89) makes a touchdown catch during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  6. Jones: Kaepernick talk must turn from protests to issues


    On Sept. 10, the Beaumont Bulls were getting ready for their youth football game in southeast Texas. Just as the national anthem was about to be played, the group of 11- and 12-year-olds took a knee, along with their coach. Just like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the group hoped to bring attention to the racial divide in this country.

    Within days, the Bulls' coach, Rah Rah Barber, was suspended....

    From left, the San Francisco 49ers' Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 2, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS)
  7. Jones: If a Power Five team comes calling, can USF keep Willie Taggart?


    Just moments before kickoff last Saturday between USF and UConn at Raymond James Stadium, Bulls coach Willie Taggart could have taken a football and punted it into the stands and there's a pretty good chance it would have hit an empty seat.

    That was a week after 16,585 showed up to watch USF's victory on Homecoming.

    Then, this week, Taggart and the rest of USF found out that the Power Five lifeboat known as the Big 12 conference wasn't taking on any more passengers, leaving the Bulls to flail away in a second-tier conference....

    Will it be so long, USF, if a Power Five conference comes calling for coach Willie Taggart? (Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images)
  8. Jones: Give Kaepernick credit for not hiding from controversy


    TAMPA — Two months ago, he was a backup quarterback for a lousy football team. This Sunday against the Bucs, he will be the starting quarterback for that same lousy football team.

    But so much more has changed in the world of Colin Kaepernick. Nothing for him will ever be the same. Ever.

    He takes a knee during the national anthem — his resolute, yet peaceful demonstration to point out the inequities in this country. It's his way of drawing attention to a country that treats African-Americans differently than whites....

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) stands on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert) NYMG117
  9. Jones: USF fun to watch, but not enough are watching


    TAMPA — Crazy world, this college football.

    Let's review. Louisville crushes Florida State, then loses to Clemson. Then Clemson storms the field — embarrassingly so — Saturday after beating N.C. State, which only happened because N.C. State can't kick field goals.

    North Carolina upsets FSU, then gets annihilated by Virginia Tech, but comes back to beat Miami. Miami almost beat FSU. FSU beat USF. The same USF that crushed Syracuse, which beat … Virginia Tech....

    USF linebacker Auggie Sanchez tackles running back Arkeel Newsome in the second quarter.
  10. Lightning victory starts what looks like a special season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — That's how you start a season.

    All the excitement. Pregame introductions. Sellout crowd chanting for Nikita Kuuuuuu­cherov. Big ovation for Steven Stamkos. Welcome back home, captain.

    Then, bang, overcome two two-goal deficits and beat the Red Wings 6-4 Thursday with four goals in the third period. Wow.

    "If that was your first hockey game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, "that was a pretty good one to go to."...

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle (11) pumps fists with fans as he heads down the tunnel and onto the ice for warmups before taking to the ice against Detroit Red Wings for the season opener at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (10/13/16).
  11. Jones: No more oh-so-close. It's time for the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Time to win a Stanley Cup, boys.

    For the past three seasons, the Lightning has come close. It has been a contender. The up-and-comer. The franchise full of potential. The team on the verge.

    Three seasons ago, it finished second in its division. Two season ago, it went to the Stanley Cup final. Last season, it came within a game of going back to the Cup final.

    All good stuff....

    In the past two seasons, coach Jon Cooper had led the Lightning to the Stanley Cup final and the conference final.
  12. Jones: Bucs earn badly needed win instead of bad loss


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No loss is a good one in the NFL. But had the Bucs lost Monday night, it would have been a bad loss. A really bad loss.

    It would have been the kind of loss that sits in the pit of your stomach like rotten cottage cheese. It would have been the type of loss that would have made you sick for days and kept you awake for nights.

    Think about it. The Bucs were bleeding, having lost three in a row. They were playing a Carolina team without concussed quarterback Cam Newton....

    Jacquizz Rodgers set career marks with 30 carries and 101 yards. [Getty Images]
  13. Bucs-Panthers report card


    "Good guys win," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. That's what he says after every Bucs victory. Well, that's what he has said after both Tampa Bay victories this season. But this was, indeed, a good victory for his guys Monday night.

    This looked like a game the Bucs were sure to lose when the schedule first came out. Monday night. On the road. Defending NFC champs and all.

    But the Bucs found a way to come up with a winning report card. Here are the grades from Monday night....

    The Bucs won because they were only slightly less sloppy than the Panthers, Tom Jones writes. [Getty Images]
  14. Bucs instant analysis: Ugly, but effective


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even before the season, when you looked at the Bucs' schedule, this game seemed like it was waiting for a big fat letter L next to it. In other words, a sure-fire loss.

    A Monday night? On the road? Against the defending NFC champs? No way.

    Yet, as this game unfolded, it was absolutely there for the taking for Tampa Bay. And that's just what the Bucs did. They took it....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans (13) catches a touchdown pass against Carolina Panthers' Daryl Worley (26) in the second half. [AP photo]
  15. Jones: Sean McDonough completes his comeback with 'MNF' gig


    Sean McDonough was walking in the parking lot of his gym last spring when he got the phone call.

    Mike Tirico, longtime voice of ESPN's Monday Night Football, was leaving for NBC. There was an opening for lead announcer for one of the most iconic sports series in history, and McDonough was high on the list.

    "I sort of did a fist pump,'' he said. "I was just excited about the possibility.''...

    Sean McDonough, right, says he got “choked up” thinking of joining Jon Gruden on MNF.