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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

  1. Jones: Time for Bucs to show fans something


    TAMPA — Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has one priority for tonight's preseason game against the Browns.

    Score a bunch of touchdowns? Pitch a shutout? See Roberto Aguayo make an extra point?


    "More than anything, I want to come out of it healthy,'' Koetter said.

    That's understandable. Already this preseason, the Bucs have seen stars Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy and Ali Marpet nicked up enough to put a good scare into any coach....

    Let's face it, Jameis Winston has looked pretty ordinary this preseason, Tom Jones writes.
  2. Jones: Gramatica says to give Bucs kicker Aguayo time


    Martin Gramatica, the best kicker in Bucs history, answered his phone Monday afternoon.

    "Hey Martin," he was asked, "got a minute?"

    "Sure," he said. "But I'm not talking about the kicker."

    Long pause.

    "I'm kidding!" he said with a laugh.

    Of course he is talking about the kicker. Everybody's talking about the kicker.

    Roberto Aguayo is the talk of the town. And not in a good way....

    Martin Gramatica certainly handled the pressure fine after being picked in the third round in 1999.
  3. Bucs' slow start in Jacksonville gives meaning to preseason game


    JACKSONVILLE — Take a deep breath and just keep repeating to yourself:

    "It's only the preseason. It's only the preseason."

    That's right. It's only the preseason. Exhibition games. As in, these games don't count.

    Good thing, too. The Bucs still look like a team that isn't quite ready for real Sunday football yet.

    The fellas went up to Jacksonville on Saturday night and watched their first team get knocked around by the Jaguars....

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who played into the second quarter, completes 3 of 10 passes for 28 yards and has an interception against the Jaguars.
  4. Jones: Roger Goodell keeps ego No. 1 in latest NFL mess


    Once again, the NFL has a smelly mess on its hands, and once again, it's because of commissioner Roger Goodell and his massive ego.

    Here we are on the eve of another NFL season. We should be talking about football returning to L.A. and the greatness of Cam Newton. Instead we're talking again about Goodell's arrogant, willy-nilly brand of spin-the-wheel justice.

    What else is new? Goodell can't suspend anyone without making it a federal case. Literally....

    A New England Patriots fan holds a sign referring to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the first half of a preseason NFL football game between the Patriots and the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. Brady was not at the game, and will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) FBO128
  5. Jones: Olympics provide a rare unifying force


    Mary Griffith is a real estate agent from Belleair.

    She's not a big sports fan, although she does enjoy watching tennis and figure skating now and then. Occasionally, she will watch a little golf.

    Yet a little after 1 o'clock on Monday afternoon, she stopped by her home and immediately turned on the TV.

    "I'm watching women's water polo," Griffith said.

    Just like millions upon millions of her fellow Americans, Griffith is hooked on the Olympics....

    Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates with the crowd after winning gold in the men's 100-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) OATH782
  6. ESPN's Sports Reporters airs appropriate tribute to classy John Saunders


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

    Best tribute

    ESPN's Sports Reporters did a wonderful tribute Sunday to longtime host John Saunders, who passed away suddenly last week at age 61. The show featured four of the most prominent panelists in the show's history: Mike Lupica (New York Daily News), Bob Ryan (Boston Globe), Mitch Albom (Detroit Free-Press) and Bill Rhoden (New York Times). Lupica sat in Saunders' chair....

    John Saunders, who died last week, was the longtime host of ESPN’s Sports Reporters among his many other accomplishments.
  7. Jones: Put Michael Phelps in talk about greatest athlete of all time


    The greatest swimmer of all time.

    Wait. That's not nearly going far enough.

    The greatest Olympian of all time.

    Hold on. We can go further, can't we?

    The greatest athlete of all time. Yes. That's more like it. The greatest athlete who has ever lived. The best ever.

    You certainly can make a strong claim that Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete we've ever seen.

    More dominant than Gretzky. More special than Jordan. A bigger deal than the Babe....

    Michael Phelps only burnishes his reputation as the greatest Olympian by upping his career gold-medal total to 23, finishing the Rio Games with a relay win. Story, 4C
  8. Jones: Laud him, love him but don't laugh at Tim Tebow's baseball aspirations


    Let's say you have a dream.

    Let's say that your dream is to quit your job, buy a boat and sail around the world. Maybe you want to climb Mount Everest.

    Maybe you just want to rent a little corner shop and sell Zoolander 2 action figures.

    Then someone comes along and tells you that your idea is stupid. That you cannot be serious. That you're going to embarrass yourself....

    Tim Tebow speaks during a 2014 SEC television broadcast in Atlanta. [Associated Press (2014)]
  9. Jones: Rays' front office needs to step up to the plate for Evan Longoria

    The Heater

    Interesting comments last week from Evan Longoria.

    The Rays star talked with Tampa Bay Times baseball writer Marc Topkin. Longo wasn't angry. He made no threats. He gave no ultimatums.

    His words were strong, but his tone was measured. All in all, his perfectly timed and well-delivered comments were effectively understated, yet the message was absolutely clear:

    He wants to win. Now....

    Evan Longoria rounds third base on his way to scoring against the Rockies at Coors Field last month.
  10. Tom Jones' media tidbits


    The ratings game

    This year's PGA Championship was moved up a few weeks to make room in the schedule for the Olympics. That also meant the PGA Championship was played only two weeks after the Open Championship.

    Too much, too soon? Apparently so because TV numbers were down. CBS drew 5.29 million viewers for the final round of the PGA Championship, which was the lowest number since 4.9 million watched in 2012. That year, Rory McIlroy won in a blowout, winning by eight strokes....

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  Skip Bayless attends the Paley Prize Gala honoring ESPN's 35th anniversary presented by Roc Nation Sports on May 28, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Paley Center for Media)
  11. Three things that popped into Tom Jones' head


    1. I'm not too confident that USF will get into the Big 12, but it sure would be great if it did. After all, would you rather have Tulsa, Tulane and SMU coming to town on a fall Saturday or Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor?

    2. Want to have some fun? Go to YouTube and look up baseball ejections. I apologize if you lose the next four hours.

    3. You have to respect the Rays' Brad Miller. Immediately after being told he would not longer be the team's everyday shortstop, he didn't pout. He simply went out and played his best ball all season....

  12. Jones: Who is the next Bucs Hall of Famer?


    Tony Dungy, the coach who turned around the Bucs franchise and laid the groundwork for their only Super Bowl title, will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night. He became the fourth member of the Hall to have spent a good chunk of his career in Tampa Bay, joining Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks.

    Who's next is now a conversation that involves two players who were a part of the Bucs' so-called "glory days'' that started under Dungy and ended with a title under Jon Gruden. Those players: John Lynch and Ronde Barber. Lynch has been a finalist for the Hall, while Barber will be eligible starting in 2018....


John Lynch, who had two interceptions, celebrates the Bucs 16-3 victory. It's the only time the Bucs have beaten the Steelers. 

 [Kevin White | Times]
  13. Jones: Yes, Bucs TE Seferian-Jenkins on the second team is a very big deal



    The Bucs are only a week into training camp. Their first preseason game is Aug. 11. The first real game is more than a month away.

    So when coach Dirk Koetter was asked Thursday morning about tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins lining up with the second team, Koetter gave a slight eye roll and said, "I don't know what the big deal is."

    You don't?

    Here's what makes it a big deal: Seferian-Jenkins is a 2014 second-round draft pick, the highest the Bucs have taken a tight end. He's only 23. He's going into his third season....

    Austin Seferian-Jenkins, participating in May drills, has been plagued by injuries in his first two season with the Bucs.
  14. Jones: Rays have rest of 2016 to show if they can win in 2017

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Now what?

    The major-league trade deadline has come and gone. Once again, the Rays were sellers and not buyers. All that's left of this season is … what, exactly?

    Another two months and another disappointing finish. Thanks for coming and drive safely.

    "We expected to be competitive this past year, and we haven't been," Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said. "We have talented players, but we haven't played well and we haven't won."...

    Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings (8) goes down after fouling off into his knee at bat in the second inning of the game between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.
  15. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Rays broadcasters, PGA Championship coverage win the TV weekend

    TV and Radio

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

    Best analysis

    The Rays are hopelessly out of the pennant race, but it was still a good weekend sweep for them and an absolute gut-punch for the now-.500 Yankees. As always, the work of the Fox Sun Sports crews and announcers Dewayne Staats (top left) and Brian Anderson (top right) make the Rays' broadcasts worth watching....