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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. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

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

    Worst matchup

    What do we make of Thursday's Bucs preseason game against the Jaguars on ESPN being the least-watched preseason game on national TV (excluding the NFL Network) in more than a decade?

    Only 2.6 million viewers tuned in. It had a rating of 1.6, meaning 1.6 percent of U.S. homes with televisions were tuned in. Both of those numbers are putrid....

    The Bucs and Jags, two teams needing reasons for non-fans to watch them.
  2. Jones: What Bucs need in final preseason games, more or less


    That's it. Let's start the season. Start it right now.

    Skip the final two preseason games. The Bucs don't need to play them.

    After watching Tampa Bay's first team kick Jacksonville up and down the field on Thursday, it's clear that all of us, mostly the Bucs, are ready for the regular season.

    Tell Cleveland to stay home. Washington, too.

    Can't we skip ahead to the season opener against the Dolphins?...

    Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand


    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    They didn't want to wake up to the horrible news that someone was dead. They didn't want to see riots in their streets broadcast on CNN. They didn't want to live with the guilt of knowing their failure to act led to more hatred, more divisiveness and more violence.

    That is why the Bucs, Lightning and Rays donated an undisclosed amount of money Thursday toward removal of a Confederate statue in front of the old courthouse in Tampa....

    A statue titled "Memoria In Aeterna" is seen on the Hillsborough County Courthouse annex property in Tampa. The statue,  dedicated to the honor of confederate soldiers and sailors, was originally installed on the southwest corner of Franklin and Lafayette Streets in 1911 by the Tampa chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederate States of America.  [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. We knew Aguayo was a goner, and 'Hard Knocks' still delivers


    Tuesday night's second installment of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is going behind the scenes at training camp with the Bucs, had plenty of interesting tidbits, revelations and insights.

    But two things stood out. One was the awkward, yet compelling story line of kicker Roberto Aguayo getting cut. The other was the leadership — good and bad — of quarterback Jameis Winston....

    Roberto Aguayo went 7-for-7, including a 54-yarder and three other kicks through the "skinny" goalposts Friday at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Jones: Roberto Aguayo getting the boot was star of Tuesday's 'Hard Knocks'


    TAMPA — Roberto gets cut.

    That was the big story line heading into the second episode of HBO's Hard Knocks, the behind-the-scenes look at Bucs training camp. In fact, it was one of the most anticipated story lines Hard Knocks has had in years.

    But it was a double-edge sword. On one hand, we as viewers already knew the stunning news: The Bucs had cut second-year kicker Roberto Aguayo, the former Florida State standout who will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history. That had everyone tuning in to Tuesday night's episode....

    Roberto Aguayo watches one of his final kicks Friday for the Bucs.
  6. Roberto Aguayo cut equals instant drama on upcoming 'Hard Knocks' episode


    Don't you wish you could have been a fly on the wall for the most famous player cut in the history of the Bucs?

    Actually, you can.

    The cameras of Hard Knocks were in the room early Saturday morning when Bucs coach Dirk Koetter cut kicker Roberto Aguayo and, almost assuredly, that will be the highlight of the second episode of the HBO series Tuesday night at 10 p.m....

    LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times Roberto Aguayo (19) is filmed by crew members from HBO's "Hard Knocks" during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. The upcoming season will debut Aug. 8.
  7. Tom Jones' Two Cents: It's preseason for Bucs TV announcers, too

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

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

    Most mediocre

    It's preseason for NFL broadcasters, too.

    The opening preseason game for the Bucs on Ch. 8 was an uneven affair. There were good and not-so-good moments during the coverage of the Bucs-Bengals game Friday.

    Play-by-play announcer Chris Myers is a pro and is going to give you the nuts and bolts with generally no issues. He is not, however, my cup of tea and missed a couple of calls Friday, most notably a spectacular interception by Vernon Hargreaves. Myers thought it was an incomplete pass and seemed to be the last person to know it was a pick. In fairness, his vantage point might not have been great. Still, a down moment....

    CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 11: Vernon Hargreaves III #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers intercepts a pass at the goal line intended for Brandon LaFell #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter of a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 11, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) 700069824
  8. Jones: The unfortunate truth about Tim Tebow haters

    The Heater

    Over the next week, thousands of people in Tampa Bay will celebrate Tim Tebow being in town to play minor-league baseball.

    They will pack the stands in Tampa and Clearwater just to get a glimpse of one of the most famous athletes to ever live. They will cheer him for every little thing he does on the field because they love every little thing he does — and stands for....

    Tim Tebow answers questions for the media during a press conference at Steinbrenner Field Tampa, Fla. on Thursday, August 10, 2017. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  9. Healthy ratings for 'Hard Knocks' premiere


    Hard Knocks was a hit in Tampa Bay.

    The HBO show that is going behind the scenes at Bucs training camp drew an 8.4 rating locally for Tuesday night's premiere episode, meaning 8.4 percent of all Tampa Bay homes with televisions were tuned in to the pay cable network, HBO said Wednesday.

    Meantime, the 10 p.m. premiere showing delivered 671,000 viewers nationally. That's a 32 percent jump from last year's opening Hard Knocks featuring the Los Angeles Rams, HBO said. Last year's debut went up against the Olympics and drew 509,000 viewers....

  10. Tom Jones: Stars of 'Hard Knocks' premiere include Winston, McCoy, Bucs singing


    We know them as football players. But at the end of the day (and at the beginning and in-between, too), they are just people. First and foremost, they are people.

    And if the HBO documentary series Hard Knocks, which goes behind the scenes of an NFL training camp, achieves anything, it shows football players as people.

    Yes, we see them at work, where their moments are filled with competition, sweat and, sometimes, blood. But we're used to that. We see it on our televisions every Sunday....

    Attendees enjoy a pre-screening reception at the Tampa Theatre for the premiere of Hard Knocks, starring the Bucs. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  11. Why the Bucs are ready for their 'Hard Knocks' closeup


    TAMPA — Here's a dirty little secret about HBO's Hard Knocks, the five-part behind-the-scenes look at a National Football League team during training camp:

    Teams are not willing participants. Frankly, they would rather not do it.

    Coaches and players in the clandestine world of the NFL don't want cameras and microphones meddling into every aspect of their business, shadowing their every step, recording their every word, some of it very R-rated, on and off the field....

    Crew members from HBO's "Hard Knocks" film during Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. The upcoming season will debut Aug. 8. Seen at left is offensive coordinator and receivers coach Todd Monken. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  12. Tom Jones' TV Two Cents: 'Hard Knocks' look at Bucs is almost here

    TV and Radio

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

    Hard Knocks knocking

    It's almost here. The much-anticipated debut of this year's Hard Knocks on HBO, featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the Bucs training camp, will air Tuesday at 10 p.m.

    No telling where the first episode will take viewers. HBO and NFL Films are notoriously tight-lipped about what will air. But this much is clear: the Hard Knocks guys are everywhere....

    CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 23: Austin Jackson #26 of the Cleveland Indians reacts after a called strike during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field on June 23, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
  13. Jones: Not sure the MLS odds are in the Rowdies' favor


    Know what would be great? If Major League Soccer awarded an expansion franchise to St. Petersburg.

    Know what seems unlikely to happen? Major League Soccer awarding an expansion franchise to St. Petersburg.

    If you're a local soccer fan, time to start getting nervous....

     Rowdies fans wave flags ahead of the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  14. Jones: Sunny college forecast may give way to doom and gloom


    This very well could be the greatest season of college football that the state of Florida has ever seen.


    Florida State will likely go into the season ranked second or third in the country (Third is where the coaches poll ranked them Thursday.) The Seminoles are legitimate national championship contenders. ...

    Florida State and Florida, a little too high going into this season? (Times 2016)
  15. Jones: Jameis Winston puts in the work even when no one's watching


    TAMPA — Practice has been over for a while now, but Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is still on the field.

    While most of his teammates are headed for the air conditioning, Winston is throwing passes to wide receiver Freddie Martino.

    Out patterns. In patterns. Go patterns.

    Over and over and over.

    No one is watching. Not coach Dirk Koetter. Not even the HBO Hard Knocks cameras, which seem to be everywhere, are around....

    Jameis Winston is up at 5:30 every morning, arriving early for practice and leaving late with nearly every minute of his time accounted for.