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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. Olbermann's entertaining traits also infuriate


    Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones gives his Two Cents on the latest happenings in the world of sports.

    Media story of the week

    Keith Olbermann likes to name a worst person of the day on his ESPN2 show, Olbermann. Many want to nominate him when he returns from his suspension.

    ESPN suspended the controversial and polarizing talk-show host for a week after he got into a heated Twitter debate with some folks from Penn State. Olbermann has long been critical of the university and those who defended the football program and the school in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation saga....

    ESPN suspended the controversial and polarizing talk-show host for a week after he got into a heated Twitter debate with some folks from Penn State. [Getty Images]
  2. Time for Lightning's Yzerman to make a deal

    Lightning Strikes

    Steve Yzerman is a pretty sharp guy. Ask the Lightning general manager just how far his team can go in this year's playoffs and he stick-handles around you just like he used to deke opposing defensemen.

    "I want to clinch a playoff spot first,'' Yzerman said, laughing. "We look at the big picture.''

    Okay, now that the cart and horse are in the proper order, let's get real: You better believe Yzerman is thinking about just how far his Lightning can go in the playoffs. With Monday's NHL trade deadline fast approaching, what Yzerman does or does not do in the next few days could determine the short- and long-term future of the organization....

    At the moment, the best options appear to be Edmonton's Jeff Petry, left, and Arizona's Zbynek Michalek. [AP photo]
  3. Jameis Winston's the 1 to pick ... so far


    Jameis Winston arrived at last week's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis with plenty of doubters, skeptics and those convinced he's a bad kid who will eventually self-destruct and take an NFL team down with him.

    We all have questions, lots and lots of questions. For him. About him. Surrounding him.

    Now here we are, a few days later, with the combine over. And what should we think about Winston?...

    Jameis Winston had plenty of reasons to smile after his trouble-free performance at the NFL scouting combine.
  4. Shooting from the lip: Fox and Daytona; Miracle on Ice; Mariota and Winston

    TV and Radio

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

    Best acknowledgment

    I tuned in intently to Fox's prerace coverage of the Daytona 500 and was fairly convinced the network was going to barely mention or completely gloss over the Kurt Busch suspension for his role in an alleged domestic violence incident....

    Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota, left, and Jameis Winston share a lighter moment Saturday at the NFL combine.
  5. Are Rays reloaded or destined to retreat?

    The Heater


    What felt like the longest offseason in the history of baseball offseasons finally and mercifully came to an end Friday morning. The Rays officially opened spring training on a blustery morning that felt anything but springlike.

    How appropriate for baseball's team of dichotomy. You don't know whether to celebrate the start of something new and different and promising or dread the first steps what could be the beginning of a downward spiral....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Pitcher Jake McGee #57 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  6. We'll forgive sports cheats, just don't lie


    We don't want you to use steroids, but if you get caught, don't lie about it.

    We're not cool with gambling on baseball, but if we ask you about it, do the right thing and admit it.

    If you're going to dope your blood, don't call us liars while lying yourself.

    Here's what we have learned. To do something wrong is one thing, but to lie about it is probably worse. Lying, covering up, denying always seems to cause more trouble and last a lot longer than the initial crime....

    Associated Press
  7. Jones: NASCAR drivers should stop whining and just race

    Auto racing

    Shut up and drive.

    Yeah, you, Clint Bowyer. You, too, Tony Stewart. And that goes for every other driver griping, grumbling and whining about NASCAR's new group qualifying format used for the Daytona 500.

    After Sunday's day of qualifying, which resulted in a bunch of pristine cars getting all busted up, Stewart went a little nuts, calling the new format "a complete embarrassment.'' Bowyer went off-the-rails bonkers....

    Reed Sorenson and Clint Bowyer, whose cars against the wall are obscured by smoke, and JJ Yeley (No. 23) were among the five cars in an accident during Sunday’s first group qualifying session for the Daytona 500.
  8. ESPN takes Dick Vitale off UNC-Duke basketball this week

    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.


    Most disappointing news

    When you think of the Duke-North Carolina basketball game on television, who is the first person you think of? Dick Vitale, right?

    Since joining ESPN in 1979, Vitale has called every single Duke-North Carolina game the network has aired. More than any other college game or rivalry, Vitale is known for Duke-North Carolina....

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash stands for a portrait at the Northside Little League Fields in Tampa, Fla. on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. Cash, a Tampa native, played on this field between the ages of 10 and 12, and in 1989, with the team that went to the Little League World Series.
  9. Ex-Lightning coach John Tortorella itching to coach again

    Lightning Strikes

    He sounds happy.

    That's the first thing you notice. He sounds happy and content and pleasant.

    Those are words not often associated with former Lightning coach John Tortorella.

    When you think of Torts, the man who led the Lightning to its only Stanley Cup in 2004, you think of words such as aggressive and combative and demanding.

    But that's not all of who Tortorella is. Or was. Yes, he was demanding of his players. And, yes, he could be a handful for the media at times. But to say he was a jerk is a misguided perception based solely on a handful of high-profile and very public incidents....

    Then-Canucks coach John Tortorella takes part in last season’s celebration of the Lightning’s 2004 Stanley Cup win.
  10. Lightning making fans uneasy

    Lightning Strikes

    Suddenly there seems to be a bit of uneasiness when it comes to the Lightning.

    Not panic. You wouldn't even call it major concern. But uneasiness — a slight uncertainty, a tinge of doubt.

    Strange, when you think about it. Check the standings. The Lightning still is at the top of the Eastern Conference.

    ESPN's power rankings have the Lightning third in the entire NHL. It is fifth overall, according to Sports Illustrated. That's good stuff....

    Goalie Ben Bishop has been pulled twice in his past three starts, and both were losses.
  11. Tom Jones' midseason NBA report


    The NBA's All-Star Game is today in New York, then it's back to the hardwood for the stretch run. Here's our Two Cents look at what we've seen this season and what we will see the rest of the way.

    Biggest surprise (team)

    You get a feeling that when Steve Kerr turned down a chance to coach the Knicks in favor of taking the Warriors job, he might have known there was something special in Golden State. The Warriors look like a championship team, but maybe we shouldn't be that surprised with what they have done. They have been a playoff team the past two seasons. The Hawks have made the postseason seven consecutive seasons (bet that surprises you), but they haven't been a serious threat since … uh, have they ever been a serious threat since moving to Atlanta? But this season the Hawks are on pace for the best regular season in franchise history. And, after 38 victories last season, that's the biggest surprise in the NBA....

    The Bulls' Jimmy Butler has always been a top-notch defender. This year, he's also averaging a whopping 20 points a game  - tops on a Bulls team that features Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol. [Getty Images]
  12. Bucs make good move cutting Josh McCown loose


    If he wasn't going to be part of the solution, then keeping him was going to be a part of the problem.

    So cut bait. Or, in this case, cut Josh.

    The Bucs on Wednesday cut ties — wisely, I might add — with Josh McCown, coach Lovie Smith's handpicked quarterback to lead the team out of the abyss and into the playoffs.

    Nice call. For nearly 5 million bucks, the Bucs got one victory....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown (12) gets sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) at the TB 29 for a loss of 10 yards as he fumbles during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Sunday 12/21/14. The Bucs recovered the fumble but were also sacked not he following play.
8:14) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at TB 32 for -10 yards (J.Peppers). FUMBLES (J.Peppers), recovered by TB-J.Allen at TB 29. J.Allen to TB 29 for no gain (M.Daniels). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  13. Can Tiger Woods regain magic touch?


    He is the 62nd-ranked golfer in the world, one spot ahead of Brandt Snedeker and one spot behind Tim Clark. Players such as Mikko Ilonen, Brendon Todd and Francesco Molinari all, according to the World Golf Ranking, are better players than him right now.

    He's Tiger Woods, average Joe, pedestrian golfer.

    His No. 62 ranking is his worst since becoming a pro back in 1996. He has become just another golfer and, it seems, just as likely to withdraw from a tournament these days as he is to win it....

    Tiger Woods’ withdrawal on the 12th hole during last weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines was his third in his past 11 worldwide tournaments. In three others, he has missed the cut.
  14. Tom Jones' Two Cents


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

    Best assist

    Is there a color analyst in all of sports more entertaining than ESPN/ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy? Sometimes you get the feeling that the only reason he spent a few years (well, 11) coaching in the NBA was to set himself up to be a television analyst....

    ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy had a spot-on opinion about healthy NBA players taking games off.
  15. Dean Smith's legacy: Great coach, better person


    The year was 1948, and social equality had not yet arrived in America's heartland.

    Topeka High School in Kansas had two basketball teams, a white team that played in the regular high school league and an African-American team that played against black schools.

    But there was a young player on the white team who didn't care about black or white. This son of teachers wanted his school to field the best team possible, regardless of race. So he lobbied the school, pressured the principal and debated the townsfolk who thought whites and blacks should not mix....

    Dean Smith cuts down the net at the Superdome in New Orleans after his Tar Heels defeated Georgetown 63-62 to win the 1982 NCAA championship, Smith’s first of two as coach.