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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. Jones: MLS' Rowdies sounds good, but not sold on it happening


    Could St. Petersburg really support a Major League Soccer team?

    You want to say yes. You want to say it will work. You want to think we're a big market.

    You want to think we're cool enough, hip enough.

    The reality of it, though?

    It just feels hard to imagine that 18,000 people are going to show up once a week in the heat of summer to watch MLS.

    This has nothing to do with the people in charge of this effort. Owner Bill Edwards and former St. Pete mayor Rick Baker are sharp guys. If anyone can pull this off, they can....

    Ralph's Mob members cheer during a recent game Saturday, April 22, 2017 in St. Petersburg. Major League Soccer's recent expansions with Orlando City Soccer club and Atlanta United Football Club, has the Rowdies owners excited about possibly becoming the next MLS team.
  2. Jones: Sorry FSU and Dalvin Cook fans, but O.J. Howard was right pick


    TAMPA — He wasn't the popular pick.

    But he was the right pick.

    In a draft that Bucs fans (and Florida State fans, too) will debate for years, Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht went against popular opinion and did the right thing for his football team. He took the best player on the board.

    That player was not Dalvin Cook.

    It took courage to do what Licht did. A portion of his fan base isn't happy. But you know the old saying: When you do what the fans want you to do, you end up sitting with them....

    Former Bucs QB Mike Glennon was signed by the Bears in the offseason, but he can’t be thrilled with Chicago drafting Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 pick.
  3. Jones: 19 things Bucs could do with 19th pick


    The Bucs have the 19th pick in the NFL draft.


    Rumors are swirling that the Bucs will make a trade, moving out of the first round.

    Then again, it wouldn't be surprising if they made a trade to move up. Or maybe they won't make a trade at all. Maybe they'll stick with the 19th pick.

    If they do, what should they do? What player should they take? A running back? An offensive lineman? A defensive lineman. Another kicker?...

    Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) walks through the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl Fan Fest at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta on Saturday December 31, 2016. The Peach Bowl kicks off at 3pm between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Washington Huskies.
  4. What Bucs absolutely should not do in draft's first round


    At approximately 10:30 Thursday night, commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to walk to the podium at the NFL draft holding a card that announces which player the Bucs will select with the 19th pick.

    Many Bucs fans are hoping for Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Mock drafts galore have Cook going to Tampa Bay. And if not Cook, there's a pie-in-the-sky dream that LSU's Leonard Fournette or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey lands here....

    General manager Jason Licht speaks during a press conference announcing the upcoming season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" featuring the Buccaneers at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. The show focuses on behind-the-scenes moments to give viewers a deeper look into NFL teams.
  5. A tragic story worth the attention


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

    Most interesting coverage

    The death of former Patriots and Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez dominated ESPN daytime programming Wednesday, even bumping the popular First Take to ESPN2 so SportsCenter could continue its coverage. Did ESPN go overboard, seeing as how Hernandez hadn't played a football game since 2013 and there was nothing to really report other than Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell, where he was serving a life term for murder?...

  6. Jones: FSU-Bucs draft connection, coincidental or cagey?


    Call them the Tampa Bay Seminoles.

    Tampa Bay's NFL team has a Florida State quarterback. The kicker is a 'Nole. And if things break just right in this week's NFL draft, another Seminole — running back Dalvin Cook — could land in its lap.

    "I hope the Bucs draft him," said Hall of Famer and former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks.

    Of course he does, seeing as how Brooks went to, well, you know where....

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers latest first round National Football draft picks Warren Sapp, left, and Derrick Brooks, right, hold up their new football jerseys at a Buccaneers press conference held at the Airport Marriott hotel in Tampa.
  7. Jones: NFL thinks Bucs aren't prime-time ready. It's wrong.


    Where's the love, NFL? Where's the respect?

    One day after the Bucs were named to be the featured team on HBO's Hard Knocks, the NFL schedule-maker gave them a harder knock.

    Two prime-time games next season.

    Two?! That's it? Two?

    This, as much as anything, tells you what the NFL thinks of the Bucs.

    Not quite ready for prime time.

    While most of us look at the Bucs and see an up-and-coming team with great potential, the NFL sees them and thinks "1 p.m. on Sunday.''...

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) hi-fives fans on his way to the field during warmup before the football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016.
  8. Jones: Gear up for the Bucs' soap opera with shoulder pads


    TAMPA — Hard Knocks, HBO's award-winning series that pulls back the curtain on an NFL team with an all-access look at training camp, has selected the Tampa Bay Bucs to be the featured team for the 12th season of the show.

    So what's the best way to describe Hard Knocks?

    Think American Idol. Toss in some Survivor. Add a sprinkle of Real Housewives and Big Brother. Throw in 300-pound athletic freaks, some drama and humor, utter a few curse words and you have Hard Knocks, a captivating five-part, 60-minute show that averages about 3.9 million viewers per episode....

    General manager Jason Licht speaks during a press conference announcing the upcoming season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" featuring the Buccaneers at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. The show focuses on behind-the-scenes moments to give viewers a deeper look into NFL teams.
  9. Jones: Weekend begins best time of year for sports TV viewers

    TV and Radio

    A comfortable recliner. A cold drink. A bag of chips. And a remote with fresh batteries.

    What else do you need this time of year?

    Right now gets my vote for the best time to be a sports viewer.

    Baseball is up and away, and you know, though they are up and down, the Rays have been entertaining to watch.

    The NBA playoffs, when no player is resting, started this weekend, and already there is intrigue, with questions about the Cavs, a buzzer-beater and a chance to see players we don't get to see enough, such as Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, Portland's Damian Lillard and Memphis' Marc Gasol....
  10. Jones' Two Cents: The coach of the moment and eight more hot topics

    Lightning Strikes

    1 Who is the best coach in Tampa Bay at this very moment? It would have to be USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez. Smart for the school to sign him through 2023. But eventually the Bulls need to do more than win 20 games and maybe get to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    2 Disgusting to see pest Brad Marchand score the winning goal in the Bruins' first playoff game. He shouldn't have even been playing that game after spearing the Lightning's Jake Dotchin in the groin during a game the last week of the regular season, just the latest in a series of dirty plays by a player who is too talented to play that way. The NHL suspended Marchand for two meaningless regular-season games. He will never get the message as long as the league treats him like a mischievous kid instead of the cheap-shot artist and dishonest player that he is. He deserved to sit out at least a playoff game or two....

    South Florida Bulls head coach Jose Fernandez speaks to South Florida Bulls forward Tamara Henshaw (23) and forward Ariadna Pujol (11) during a timeout in the second half during the game between the South Florida Bulls and the Memphis Tigers at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.
  11. Jones: Baseball lacks 'the face' it desperately needs (w/poll)

    The Heater

    Baseball has an identity problem. It doesn't have one.

    Specifically, it doesn't have one of those move-the-needle sports stars. It doesn't have a guy who makes you stop when he comes on television to sell you shoes, video games or sports drinks.

    Think about it: Who is the face of baseball?

    It's a hot topic these days in the wake of an ESPN poll asking more than 6,000 American sports fans age 12 and older to name their favorite athletes....

    Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper celebrates his solo home run with his teammates during the sixth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Miami Marlins, at Nationals Park, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) NAT122
  12. Lightning's Steven Stamkos is "sick'' of spate of injuries

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Steven Stamkos isn't a kid anymore.

    He turned 27 in February. He has spent nine seasons in the NHL.

    Nine. Man, that snuck up fast.

    He likely has made the turn toward the back nine of his career — a career headed for the Hall of Fame that has been sabotaged by injury and illness. Once known for being an elite goal-scorer, Stamkos is now known for missing games. Lots of games. Important games....

    Steven Stamkos says he wasn’t as close to returning from a knee injury this season as some may have thought.
  13. Tom Jones offers his take on a weekend of televised sports

    TV and Radio

    Best coverage

    A tradition unlike any other. The Masters? Yes. But also: CBS's coverage of the event.

    This year, CBS backed off its usual schmaltzy love of Augusta National and called a golf tournament. Know who deserves much of the credit? Analyst Dottie Pepper (below right).

    The best golf analyst in the world not named Johnny Miller had a featured role on CBS's coverage (smart move, CBS!) and stuck to the meat and potatoes. That's what golf viewers want. We already know how great Augusta is. We don't need constant reminders about the azaleas and the perfectly manicured course. We can see the blue skies and the green everything else. We just want golf!...

    Getty Images
  14. Joe Maddon, ill St. Petersburg teenager and his family forge mutual inspiration

    The Heater

    It was supposed to be nothing more than a short thank-you note from Aiden to his new friend Joe.

    I want to thank you for the amazing trip.

    But it said so much more than thank you.

    I have been sick my whole life and it usually has not been very fun. There's been a lot of bad memories.

    Keep reading and you see someone who has been through so many bad memories but can't help thinking of others....

    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 08:  Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs smiles during batting practice before the game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on October 8, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  15. Bucs do the right thing, eventually, with longtime season ticket-holders


    Brad and Cheryl Hall live in Seminole. They moved from Ohio 40 years ago. In 1979, they bought Bucs season tickets and have been season-ticket holders ever since.

    "We're avid fans,'' Cheryl said. "We love it.''

    That nearly changed this week. The Bucs, sick and tired of seeing Raymond James Stadium littered with opposing team's fans, are doing what they can to ensure they fill their stadium with Tampa Bay fans. In doing so, they nearly booted out a pair of seniors who have been emotionally and financially supporting the Bucs for 38 years....

    Cheryl Hall has been a Bucs season-ticket holder since 1979.