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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: Save the gallant comeback talk; the Bucs stunk


    GLENDALE, Ariz. —- If you want, you could do a lot of second-guessing about how the Bucs handled the score in their 38-33 loss Sunday to Arizona.

    Maybe they should've kicked a field goal at the end of the first half. Maybe they should've kicked extra points instead of going for two during a furious second-half comeback. Maybe if they had done all those things, they could've completed what would have been the most miraculous victory in franchise history....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) winces in pain after a hard hit during the second half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Bucs-Cardinals report card: How the old guys nearly ran Tampa Bay out of town


    GLENDALE, Ariz. — Another trip to the desert, another Bucs loss.

    Sorting out this one starts with how the old guys nearly ran Tampa Bay out of University of Phoenix Stadium. By halftime the Bucs had been outscored 71-7 in their last six quarters there. Then came the rally.

    Here's the grades from the Bucs' 38-33 loss Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals:


    About that All Points Bulletin. ... Adrian Peterson has been located and, you know what? He has still got it. He did on Sunday. Given up on by the Saints after a poor start this season, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history showed he still has plenty left in the tank with 134 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 26 carries. That conjures up two thoughts. One, it's good for the NFL to see an all-time great give us a few more highlights. And, two, hmm, should the Bucs have taken a longer look at AP in the offseason? GRADE: A....

    Adrian Peterson has been located and, you know what? Tom Jones writes. He has still got it. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Have the Bucs finally found their coach?


    Before Dirk Koetter ever stood on the sideline as a head coach in the National Football League, an old buddy of his predicted he would have major success.

    "One of the smartest dudes I've ever known,'' said former NFL player and commentator Merril Hoge.

    Hoge and Koetter grew up together in Idaho. Koetter was just a kid at the time, in his early 20s, when he coached Hoge at Highland High in Pocatello....

    Head coach Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
  4. A solution for the national anthem standoff


    We have reached a point of no return. The problem appears unsolvable. We are divided and permanently so.

    All because of something that is supposed to bring us together.

    The national anthem.

    We cannot have civil conversations. We are talking through one another, past one another. We refuse to hear the other side and are convinced that no one is hearing our side.

    The more we talk, the more frustrated we get and the more divisive the issue becomes. We can't even agree on what the protest and controversy are about....

    Miami Dolphins fans share their views about standing for the national anthem prior to action against the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. The Dolphins won, 16-10. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS) 1212857
  5. Does this mean Bucs' kicking problem is fixed? Not so fast


    The Bucs got a new kicker.

    Feel better now?

    Happy now?

    His name is Patrick Murray. He used to kick here once upon a time. Seems like every journeyman kicker has kicked here once upon a time.

    This is just what the Bucs do. This is just who they are. What else is new?

    Publix does fried chicken. Wendy's does hamburgers. And the Bucs do mediocre kickers.

    Most NFL players have their names on a permanent nameplate on their locker. The Bucs should just put "Kicker'' on their kicker's locker. It's a new guy every week....

    Patrick Murray (7) made 20 of 24 field goals for the Bucs and all 31 extra points in 2014 before being waived in May 2016.
  6. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Surveying a busy week in sports in Florida

    TV and Radio

    The Rays made news last week. The Bucs played Thursday night. The Lightning opened its season Friday night. The Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes played on Saturday. So, Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones gives his Two Cents on what's happening with those teams, as well as USF.


    Fans are practically hysterical that pitching coach Jim Hickey is no longer on staff. Fans need to relax....

    Maybe a new pitching coach will help Chris Archer finally live up to his vast potential.
  7. Jones: Loss to LSU reveals a slew of Gator problems


    GAINESVILLE — Bad loss. That's all there is to it. A really bad loss.

    LSU 17, Gators 16. A missed extra point. That was the difference.

    But this goes way deeper than a shanked extra point. The flaws go well beyond one bad play. A loss is a loss. It should never have come down to a missed PAT. This was a loss to a team that lost to Troy a week ago. This was a loss to a program which is still about five minutes away from firing its coach....

    LSU quarterback Danny Etling throws a pass as he is hit by Florida linebacker David Reese (33) and linebacker Kylan Johnson during the first half. [Associated Press]
  8. Jones: After last season's flop, this is shaping up as must-see TV for Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Steven Stamkos watched hockey on television Wednesday and Thursday nights.

    "If I'm not playing," he said, "I try to catch it."

    Ryan Callahan watched a bunch of hockey, too.

    "It gets you ready," Callahan said. "That's for sure."

    For both, Friday night's game was more than just another Lightning season opener. Both missed most of last season — a lost season, as it turned out, for Tampa Bay. In fact, it was a lost season partly because those two veteran leaders lost so much time....

    Steven Stamkos, left, challenges Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson.
  9. Jones: Bucs, Jameis Winston show they're not ready for the grown-up table


    TAMPA — This was their chance.

    This was their time to prove they belong with the big boys of the NFL. This was a game when the Bucs could, finally and definitively, announce to the world that they are to be taken seriously.

    They almost pulled it off.


    In the cruel cold world of the NFL, almost might as well be the Grand Canyon. All that matters are wins and losses, and the Bucs lost 19-14 Thursday night. They're still looking for a seat at the grown-up's table....

    Nick Folk misses a field goal near the end of the first half, one of his three misses in the game. But don’t be fooled. He’s not the Bucs’ only problem.
  10. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Lightning, NHL preview

    Lightning Strikes

    Times columnist Tom Jones gives his Two Cents on the upcoming Lightning and NHL season:

    Lightning's best player

    Who is the Lightning's best player, Nikita Kucherov or Steven Stamkos? Neither.

    Victor Hedman is the Lightning's most complete player. He plays more than anyone and controls the flow of the game more than any Tampa Bay player. It's hard to be a great team in the NHL without a true No. 1 defenseman. The Lightning has one in Hedman, and he has hit his prime as an NHL star....

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper on the ice with his team during hockey training camp in preparation for the 2017-2018 season in Brandon Friday morning. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  11. Jones: Love him? Hate him? It's the great Tom Brady debate


    Here's a text exchange going on all over Tampa Bay between Tom Brady lovers and haters leading up to Thursday's Bucs-Patriots game at Raymond James Stadium:


    Brady Lover: Dude, you going to Bucs game tonight? I'm psyched. Tom Brady is in town.


    Brady Hater: Brady? I hate that guy. Everyone hates him.


    Brady Lover: Hate? R U serious? He's the GOAT. Best who has ever lived. How can you hate him?...

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 3: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks onto the field carrying the Vince Lombardi trophy before the opening day game between the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Fenway Park on April 3, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
  12. Here comes the most anticipated Bucs home game ever


    TAMPA — Let's just go ahead and call it. This is the biggest regular-season game in Bucs history.

    Not in importance, but in anticipation.

    It's big enough that even those boycotting the NFL might want to skip a week of jersey-burning and ticket-ripping to tune in. Go ahead, we won't tell....

    Quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates his touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Foxborough, Mass.  The NFL's top-ranked offense comes to Tampa Bay on Thursday to face the Buccaneers in a 8:25 p.m. game at Raymond James Stadium. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
  13. Jones: Dirk Koetter was right to turn game over to his struggling kicker


    TAMPA — What in the world was Dirk Koetter thinking?

    Game on the line. His Bucs down by a point. And he's going to turn the game over to his kicker?

    His kicker???

    Did he not watch the first 59 minutes and 56 seconds of Sunday's game? Did he not pay attention to the past two seasons? Is he crazy?...

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk (2) walks off the field with punter Bryan Anger (9) after the game. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  14. Bucs-Giants: What if Jameis Winston is Vinny Testaverde?


    TAMPA — Is Jameis Winston a franchise quarterback?

    The answer is easy: No.

    Why not? Well, that answer is not so easy.

    For starters, we need to settle on what it means to be a franchise quarterback.

    For some, a franchise quarterback is a quarterback you plan on starting for the foreseeable future and have no plan to replace. By that limited definition, Winston qualifies as Tampa Bay's franchise quarterback....

    Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston (3) attempts a pass in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. The Vikings won, 34-17. (Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
  15. Jones: 'Battle of the Sexes' brings greater appreciation for Billie Jean King


    She is the most important and influential figure in the history of women's sports. No one has fought harder or risked greater or meant more in women's struggle for equality in and out of the sports arena.

    She is wise and charismatic and a visionary, but she can be gruff and stubborn and even a little mean. And she has used all those qualities to help women break through a wall constructed and defended by men, especially during a time when women were still patted on the head for wanting to play sports just like the guys....

    This image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Stone, left, and Steve Carell in a scene from "Battle of the Sexes." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Fox Searchlight Pictures via AP) NYET614