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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. Sports Turkey of the Year


    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Have fun with the family. Enjoy the meal. Watch parades and football.

    Okay, now that the niceties are out of the way, let's get straight to it, shall we?

    Time for the Turkey of the Year. If you messed up, embarrassed yourself or acted like a knucklehead, you are in line for the dubious award.

    Some candidates are worse than others. Some just had momentary lapses in judgment, while others clearly haven't grasped the idea of what's right and wrong. With that, here are this year's nominees....

    LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 19:  Will Grier #7 of the Florida Gators celebrates a touchdown against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
  2. USF, FSU, Florida having good times with right football coaches


    It's great to be a Florida Gator.

    And a Florida State Seminole.

    And a USF Bull.

    In Florida, it's great to be a college football fan. Unless you're UCF or Miami, but we'll get to those guys later.

    You like winners? You like bowl games?

    You like teams in the running for conference titles? You like teams in the running for national titles?

    This is the place for you....

    USF coach Willie Taggart, under fire less than two months ago, has led the Bulls to bowl eligibility.
  3. Jones: Don't look now, but Bucs are pretty decent



    The National Football League, when you break it all down, is divided into two groups.

    There are the bad teams, the ones that stumble, fumble and bumble their way through fall. They blow games and collect losses. They fire coaches and change quarterbacks. You know, the teams that stink.

    Then there's the other side: the good teams, the ones that make plays and develop stars. They are the teams that win and make playoff pushes and play meaningful games when turkey and pumpkin pie are on the specials....

    Eagles receiver Zach Ertz soars over Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, whose big game includes an interception return for a score.
  4. Friday nights should be reserved for high school football


    Word association time. • Here's the phrase: "Fall weekends in America." • What's your first thought? • For most of us, the word that comes to mind is "football." • Saturdays are for colleges. Sundays are for the pros. • And let's not forget Friday nights. Fridays are for high school football. • Friday Night Lights, right? • "Even that phrase is iconic," said Plant High football coach Robert Weiner. • Tonight, Weiner's Panthers head over to Lakeland for one of many local state playoff games. • But high school is not the only football in town. Over at Raymond James Stadium, the bowl-bound USF Bulls host Cincinnati in a key conference game. Should be fun. • So why does it feel like we shouldn't be watching? • Because it's Friday, darn it, and Friday is high school football....

    LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. When Ronda Rousey went down, so did the UFC

    Human Interest

    Ronda Rousey — the biggest name in mixed martial arts and the baddest fighter on the planet — was supposed to be invincible.

    Then on Saturday night, a woman named Holly Holm kicked Rousey in the face, knocking her senseless in the ring and into uncertainty out of it.

    We woke up Sunday morning to the stunning news.

    Rousey lost?!

    Twitter went crazy. Even Donald Trump and Lady Gaga weighed in....

    Holly Holm lands a knockout kick that ends Ronda Rousey’s aura of invincibility and makes the UFC less interesting.
  6. Jones: Bucs defense finally steps up (w/video)


    TAMPA — You kept waiting for the collapse. Any minute now.

    You kept waiting for the breakdown. The next drive, for sure.

    You just had that feeling that the Bucs defense was going to cave in at some point Sunday because that's what it always does. It caves in on Sundays.

    The defense that is designed to bend but not break eventually bends. Then breaks. Not only does it break, it snaps into smithereens, and a perfectly good victory falls apart with it. That's just what this Bucs defense does....

    Defensive end William Gholston sacks the Cowboys’ Matt Cassel, one of three in an impressive showing by the Bucs defense.
  7. Jones: Cowboys' Greg Hardy is a disgrace


    Meet Melissa Dohme, a 23-year-old college student from Clearwater.

    Three years ago, she was savagely beaten and left for dead. She was stabbed 19 times in the head, neck and face. She was stabbed 13 more times in the hands and arms in an attempt to defend herself. She flatlined four times at the hospital. Her skull was fractured. Her jaw was broken. Her nose was shattered. Her larynx was sliced. Several teeth were knocked out....

    Melissa Dohme in May 2012, four months after ex-boyfriend Robert Lee Burton Jr. beat her so severely, she was not expected to live. Burton was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
  8. Jones: The sad reality of playing fantasy sports


    Full disclosure: Years ago, back before I got into this business, I played fantasy sports.

    Fantasy football. Rotisserie baseball. NCAA basketball pools.

    Fuller disclosure: I stopped. I stopped because I hated ever being in the position of rooting for a player and his team that, deep down, I didn't want to do well because he wasn't on my fantasy team.

    And even fuller disclosure: Okay, I really stopped because I was lousy at it....

    You can’t watch a sporting event these days without seeing commercials for the biggest daily fantasy businesses, FanDuel and Draft Kings, during every break.
  9. Jones: Athletes can amplify a call to action


    We often look at them as faceless, nameless kids parading around a football field to entertain us on our autumn Saturdays.

    The sport they play, like all sports, is designed to delight us in our free time and distract from the daily trials of real life.

    Then something important happens to remind us that sports can change lives, make a difference, impact society for the better. It can make real life better....

    Missouri running back Russell Hansbrough, center, fights his way past Florida's Nick Washington, left, and Jordan Sherit, right, during a game in Columbia, Mo. Some Missouri football players announced Saturday night, on Twitter that they would not participate in team activities until the university president, Tim Wolfe, was removed from office. [AP photo]
  10. Jones: Bucs' losses will continue until defense is fixed


    TAMPA — Bucs ball. Fourth down and 10 yards to go at the Giants' 49-yard line. Trailing 23-18. Just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

    Punt or go for it? Don't be silly. Of course you punt there. That's exactly what Bucs coach Lovie Smith did, and I'm not here to question that decision. Still, as soon as the punt lifted into the air, you knew it deep down. This game was over....

    Bucs coach Lovie Smith, who is in charge of the defense, says it needs to get better in all areas but some young players did good things against the Giants. “Again, we’re not quite there right now,” he says.
  11. Talking Maguire, McElwain and mediocre college matchups (w/video)


    The first College Football Playoff rankings came out this week and already there is controversy. You know the committee wouldn't want it any other way. We're just halfway though the season. There are another five weeks worth of games, five weeks that might clean up any issues and clear up any doubts. Yet, the sports world is buzzing about who's No. 4 (Alabama) more than who's No. 1 (Clemson). Now is the perfect time for some random thoughts about the college football season, starting right here at home....

    Not only is Sean Maguire, pictured, a better choice over Everett Golson for Saturday's game, but for the long haul, specifically next season. [Getty Images]
  12. Miami's eight-lateral victory over Duke should be reversed


    It's not too late. It's never too late.

    Isn't that what we say about righting a wrong? That it's never too late to do the right thing?

    If we know something is absolutely, undeniably, 100 percent wrong and we can fix it in order to make it absolutely, undeniably and 100 percent correct, well, isn't that what we should do?

    By now, you've probably seen the ending of Saturday's Duke-Miami football game. On the last play of the game — and it's important to remember that it was the last play — Miami took a kickoff and used eight laterals to score a holy mackerel touchdown for a 30-27 victory....

    Miami's Dallas Crawford (25) returns a kickoff,  which featured multiple laterals before Corn Elder subsequently received the final lateral, and scored to beat Duke 30-27 on Oct. 31. [AP photo]
  13. Kwon Alexander's play a fitting tribute to slain brother


    ATLANTA — This should have been a joyous time, a day to celebrate, an afternoon to rejoice and remember with family.

    The Bucs had just beaten the Falcons in overtime Sunday, and rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander was the star of the day, having played the best football game of his life 90 minutes up the road from where he grew up.

    This was supposed to be a homecoming.

    Instead, Alexander stood in the locker room, visibly shaken and emotionally empty because of a nightmare from which he could not wake. His eyes tried to hold back tears as his voice quivered....

    Bucs Kwon Alexander  is overcome with emotion as he leaves the field. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  14. Jones: The Bucs rebounded from a debacle with Lovie Smith's best win so far


    ATLANTA — Give Lovie Smith this much: His players aren't quitting on him.

    Say what you will about his personnel decisions and you are certainly within your rights to question his defensive schemes and that fourth-quarter play call on fourth and 1. But no one can say that his players have given up on him, the team and their commitment to winning.

    A week after choking away a 24-point lead in a loss to Washington, the Bucs had every reason to give a half-hearted effort Sunday. A year after getting demolished in Atlanta, the Bucs easily could have turtled and waited for another beating Sunday....

    Bucs celebrate Jameis Winston's (3) TD pass to wide receiver Cameron Brate (84). [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  15. Florida Gators in midst of potentially special season



    A season ago, the Gators were a mess, a once-proud program crashing through the guardrail straight into mediocrity.

    They were sliding down the mountain of college football, an afterthought in their conference and second fiddle in their own state. That's exactly why Florida fired Will Muschamp and hired Jim McElwain.

    The down-and-out Gators wanted up-and-coming. They wanted better. They wanted good....

    Florida wide receivers Antonio Callaway, right, and Demarcus Robinson celebrate in the end zone after Callaway’s touchdown reception that puts the Gators ahead 13-0 in the second quarter.