Jones Glad To Be Where He Is
Wednesday June 25, 2014
Jason Jones has never played a glorified position at the professional level. He's always been a tight end (indoor) or an offensive guard (outdoor). He's never spent more than a year with a professional sports team and has his best shot to do so these next two years in Cleveland. He's never played in the CFL or the NFL, but every day he shows up to work with a smile. Whether it be in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or Rome Italy. The man they call "Coffee" in the locker room shows up to work daily no matter what city, state, or country he happens to be playing in.
Wherever Jones has played he's always had a top tier center playing next to him. Last year he played along side Brennen Carvalho one of the best ever offensive lineman in the league. "In my career I have always had great centers. In 2005 I played for the Dayton Warbirds in the National Indoor Football League. My center was my boy Joe Washington. In 2006 me and my brothers got signed to play in Italy for the Rome Gladiators, and our Italian center there was definitely good enough to play AFL ball. In 2007 I came back to the states, had few AF2 teams call but when Joe Washington said he was signing with the Louisville Fire
, I signed too. There I played and lived with AFL future Hall of Famer Tiger Jones! In 2008 I signed to play AF2 in Quad City for the Steamwheelers, but I decided to stay in Ohio, in school and played indoor ball for the Miami Valley Silverbacks
of the CIFL. In 2009 I decided to play for Quad City. I Caught 12 passes, 91 yards and 5 touchdowns! In 2010 I signed to play in Cleveland with Billy Eisenhardt (2013 offensive lineman of the year.) I started my 2011 season with San Jose in camp with Robbie Powell, then signed with Cleveland and played with Billy again for four weeks and finished my year with the Milwaukee Mustangs
and Tow Arnett for the final 12 weeks of season. In 2012 I signed with the Pittsburgh Power
with Beau Elliot. 2013 with the Philadelphia Soul
and Brennan Carvalho, and now 2014 back in Cleveland with Shannon Breen!
Looking at the 2013 season Jones played alongside Christian Johnson and Brennen Carvalho, two first team All Arena winners. He started every game, including the Soul's three playoff games. He signed a one year deal this past October to return to the Soul despite offers from some other teams. He bought his own apartment in the complex that the Soul stay in, located in Collingswood New Jersey. He worked out at the LA fitness two minuets away from the Souls practice facility in Voorhees New Jersey. "Camp was good, we got back to football basics. Working on my technique, and showing off the work I put in during the off season. I dropped from 355/360 pound range to 330 range for this season. It felt better on my body and joints as well. Sadly I injured my elbow and that set me back during camp." And that elbow injury cost Jones badly. During camp Adam Smith broke through as a valuable young lineman and proved worthy of a starting spot. During camp the Soul acquired Wayne Tribue, to complete the deal that sent Andrae Thurman to Portland. Smith and Tribue went on to beat out Jones for a starting spot on the line and Jason Holman, the Soul's veteran offensive lineman was more versatile leaving Jones with no spot.
"I wasn't a free agent very long, with my injury I was technically still on the Soul's roster until I cleared and completed my exit physical. I spent my time continuing to train at LA Fitness, working, and taking care of some bills."
"Cleveland found me. Some guys I knew there reached out around week 2 to see if I'd be willing to join them seeing as some of their line were hurt or struggling early on. I told them I was open to play for them. I got a call a few weeks later as they were going in to their fourth game to see if I was cleared and healthy. A week later, I was a gladiator....again!"
"Cleveland called and offered me, as well as New Orleans. I'd had slight talks with LA, and Portland, as well as few smaller indoor football team offers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Nashville. Cleveland was winning, they were 4-0 at the time, and they were going to play the Soul twice. I had familiarity with the city, staff and many players here. My most important aspect was the line I played with. Namely my center, Shannon Breen. I knew who Breen was and respected his game as an opponent. Upfront the most vital part of an TE/G in the league is your C.. I had the AfL's best in Carvallo in Philly, and felt Breen was second. Jones had an easy move to Cleveland saying he's used to moving and is blessed to have a steady home in New Jersey.
Last night Jones and the Gladiators somehow found a way to beat the Soul despite only having two seconds left and starting at their own five yard line. Shane Austin launched it up, and after a Soul defensive back batted it up the ball fell in the hands of Collin Taylor. Jones scored a 23 yard touchdown for the first scoe of the game. This isn't the first time the Gladiators beat the Soul on a last second throw, beating them on a 0.8 second touchdown throw earlier this year. Prior to that game Jones had conversations with his former teammates saying "Tiger is family so we talked like we often do (*just to clarify Tiger Jones and Jason Jones are not related.) Goosby same way. We were all close crew along with CJ (Christian Johnson,) so that brotherly love never dies no matter the logo on your jersey." "Playing with Bryan Robinson didn't help as much as playing against him did. I faced him twice in the AF2, we were teammates in Cleveland early 2010, and have had about three or four match ups since then. I used many of those old game films vs Bryan to understand what he does well...vs ME! So I worked my hardest to correct those mistakes. He was first team AFL for blocking field goals.. he's a tough defensive lineman to block play in and play out so I had to be patient and take each play at a time. He won a few but thanks to my other three lineman and pocket presence of my quarterback, I kept Bryan from taking over the game as he is surely capable of doing.
"Winning the way we did made it special. I just wanted to show the coaches and General Managers in Philly what they refused to see all of last year and in camp. That I can and will block ANYBODY in this league. No player will fight harder for his teammates on or off the field. And whatever flaws they claimed me to have in my game... I wanted them to try and expose them, if they could. I was average and still held my own and put my team in position to score each drive. The rest of the glory goes to my other 20 guys on the field."
As for the future of Jason Jones, he's wiling to play for as long as there's a team that wants him. "I have a two year deal here in Cleveland, but I see my self playing as long as the Good Lord allows me to. He keeps me in good health and shows me favor when coaches and General Managers are in need of an athletic savvy experienced pass protector. So as long as there's a dollar to be made playing this game, I will be training, studying, and fighting to play for it! AMEN"
"I'm wearing 45, because that's what (Michael) Jordan wore when he came back. My Italian born son's name is Jordan, so coming back to Cleveland I chose 45."
Harrison Brown is a 17-year old sports reporter who covers the Philadelphia Soul daily and conducts interviews with players and coaches as well. He covers all the Soul home games and practices, and he covered ArenaBowl XXVI in Orlando. Harrison enjoys interviewing players on his YouTube channel Sunday Night Sports, writing articles, and playing high school football. Follow Harrison on Twitter @SnsdSports
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.