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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. Why it's too early to give up on the Bucs


    Don't panic. It's not too late for the Bucs.

    It's grim, for sure. Things aren't looking sunny as they shuffle off to Buffalo for a close-to-must-win game.

    They are 2-3. They are coming off an embarrassing loss to Arizona. Quarterback Jameis Winston is banged up.

    Lots of reasons to feel like it's the same ol' Bucs, riding in the slow lane with the Bills and Browns of the highway, on their way to a 10th consecutive season without making the playoffs....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate after the defense recovered a fumble 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. Tampa Bay should say no thanks to these sporting events


    Tampa Bay has become the Break-Glass-In-Case-of-Emergency City.

    When the NHL decided to pull out of the Olympics, it needed someone — and quick — to host this season's All-Star Game. Tampa Bay stepped right up.

    When the NFL realized that the new football stadium in Los Angeles wouldn't be completed in time to host the Super Bowl in 2021, it needed someone to hurry up and host the big game. Tampa Bay stepped right up. That became official on Wednesday....

    In this file photo, Cal quarterback Jared Goff poses for photos with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Los Angeles Rams as the first pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
  3. This is no time for Jameis Winston to play hero


    Don't be a hero, Jameis.

    Do the right thing. Do what's best.

    Do what's best for you and, just as important, do what's best for your team.

    Don't play this Sunday if you're too hurt to play.

    Sit if you can't throw a football properly. Take a rest if your shoulder is in too much pain. Let your healthy backup play while your unhealthy body rests....

     Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sits on the bench during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) 700070683
  4. 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
  5. 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]
  6. 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 makes his way through the tunnel on his way to the field at the start 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)
  7. 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....

    Vice President Mike Pence stands during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) NAS111
  8. 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....

    In this file photo, Patrick Murray #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts after kicking his first NFL field goal during the second half of the game against the St. Louis Rams at Raymond James Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images)
  9. 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....

    Though the Lightning is struggling on defense, there’s some good news — chiefly, that superstar center Steven Stamkos is playing like he’s fully recovered.
  10. 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]
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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....

    Is Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman the best player on the team? Tom Jones certainly thinks so. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)
  14. 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)
  15. 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....

    New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, center, uses a fan's banner to celebrate his touchdown catch against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)