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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. Tom Jones' midseason report on the 2014-15 NHL season

    Lightning Strikes

    The NHL All-Star Game will be played Sunday 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 of the 2014-15 season.

    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 New York 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 Tavaras, who will win a Hart Trophy some day, this the first time in more than 20 years that the Islanders have been in first place at the All-Star break....

    Thanks in part to the goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, this the first time in more than 20 years that the Islanders have been in first place at the All-Star break. [AP photo]

  2. 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.''...

    Maybe Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t benefit much from the deflated footballs during Sunday’s romp. But rules were broken.
  3. 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....

    A victory in Arizona and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can lay claim to be the best quarterback in NFL history. [Getty Images]
  4. 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.
  5. 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?...

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14:  Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland looks ahead during a practice session ahead of the 2015 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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....

    Tampa Bay Lightning Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula battles for the puck against Arizona Coyotes Zbynek Michalek during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (10/28/14).
  9. 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....

    After getting much preseason love, Tyler Johnson (9), Victor Hedman (77) and their Lightning mates are overlooked in high-profile midseason kudos.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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]
  13. Trade? Bucs should just say no with No. 1 pick


    Turn off your phones. Don't check your email. Tell your secretaries to take a message.

    That's my advice for Bucs general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith.

    Go underground. Go incommunicado. Cut off all ties to the outside world.

    Whatever you do, be sure to stay clear of every general manager, coach, owner and front-office type in the NFL. For that matter, don't even pick up a newspaper or flip on a television....

    Lovie Smith
  14. Shooting from the lip: Remembering Stuart Scott

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

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

    Saddest news

    Sports fans knew this day was coming, but when we heard the news, we were hit with a wave of shock and sadness.

    We lost one of the great ones. ESPN anchor Stuart Scott (above) died Sunday morning after battling cancer for several years. He was 49....

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14: ESPN TV Personality Bill Simmons Coach of the West Team reacts to a play during the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Sprint Arena during the 2014 NBA All-Star Jam Session at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on February 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
  15. Tom Jones' athletes to watch in 2015


    tom jones' two cents

    Welcome back to what has became a Tampa Bay Times tradition. This is our ninth annual Two Cents look at sports personalities to watch during the new year. This list won't include household names such as LeBron or Peyton or Tiger. Instead, we look at those who aren't commonly known, those we are predicting to have breakout years in 2015. Pay close attention because we will keep you ahead of the curve. Past lists have included Tim Tebow, Steven Stamkos, Wil Myers and Lindsey Vonn, then-unknowns who went on to become big-time stars. With that, here's our list of the 10 sports figures to watch in 2015....

    KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 22:  (L-R) Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves, winner of the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award, MLB Commissioner-elect Robert D. Manfred Jr., and Greg Holland #56 of the Kansas City Royals, winner of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year, award speak to the media before Game Two of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium on October 22, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)