It’s time to officially say goodbye to Thomas Jones.
We were prepared to do that, of course, when the free agency signing period began and Jones, who had a year to go on the contract he restructured when he came to the Jets in trade in 2007, was released. Then Tuesday night the reports filtered in that TJ had found a new team in the Kansas City Chiefs.
But we at newyorkjets.com like to wait for the NFL and its teams to make things official, and that happened this morning when Chiefs head coach Todd Haley (who coincidentally is a former Jets assistant coach and son of highly respected former Jets personnel man Dick Haley) confirmed the signing.
Jones, Haley told the Kansas City Star, "is a good football player and a strong leader, a real professional. He’s been part of turnarounds at a couple of different places, in Chicago and New York, where he kind of got teams to the promised land, so to speak. He’s a strong character and he loves football, so he fits the bill of what we’re looking for here."
As for bringing Jones into a Chiefs backfield that last season featured Jamaal Charles in a team-MVP season, Haley said, "It’s just a chance to add another good football player to the mix in addition to the ones we have."
The Jets knew all these things. We all know he had a career-high 1,402 rushing yards last season, along with 14 more rushing TDs and that franchise-record, personal-best 210-yard Game 6 against the Bills.
Here’s something else you may not have known about TJ’s ’09: He had six 1-yard scoring runs for the Jets, tying the franchise record held by two others. Can you name them? (Answer below.)
And for his three-year Jets career, the regular-season numbers are impressive: 3,833 rushing yards, 4,315 yards from scrimmage, 31 total TDs.
Through it all, he was, as Haley noted, a team leader, as evidenced from his fiery pregame peptalks to the way he sometimes carried the team on his shoulders to things behind the scenes that only the players know about.
He even brought up the group when the spotlight was on his individual work after he had reached his first Pro Bowl in February 2009. When I talked with him during the week before the all-star game, he seemed as happy and at peace as I saw him publicly as a Jet, and yet he still wanted to dwell on the players around him.
"It goes to my offensive line and my fullback doing a good job blocking for me all year. My linemen get all the yards and touchdowns that I have gotten. Once you get into your ninth year in the league, you go out there and you’re really playing to win. Your goal is to win the Super Bowl," he said. "By me going out there and playing to win, good things have happened.
"It’s a blessing and I am grateful for it.”
All that being said, Jones is no longer a Jet. The decision to let him go was a gutwrenching one for Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan. Difficult judgments about age, economy — the NFL economy and perhaps even the region’s and the nation’s economy — and the best interests of the team had to be made.
But Rex and Mike T have made it clear they will miss TJ’s toughness, dedication and leadership. The players will say the same, and we will add our best wishes to Jones now that he’s exchanged his green for some new red threads.
Recognized for Their Work
This is a good week for the Jets organization in the awards arena. SportsBusiness Journal/Daily announced this week its "Forty Under 40 Class of 2010," and one of those 40 bright young sports business stars is our own Thad Sheely, Jets executive vice president of stadium development and finance.
Thad and his class will be recognized at the Forty Under 40 awards banquet March 18 at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles.
And already up on our site is a news release on the Jets’ nominations in five different categories for the New York Emmy Awards. Different programming — specials, commercial spots and promos — that aired on three different networks is in the running for an Emmy or five when the awards are presented April 18 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. For these honors, a special tip of the hat to Bobby Parente and Rich Gentile.
And the Answer Is …
The other Jets who had six 1-yard touchdown runs in one season were Johnny Hector — who did it twice, in 1986 and ’88 — and Brad Baxter, who scored his sixpack in ’91.
Tags: Kansas City Chiefs, Rich Gentile, Thomas Jones
Posted in Randy Lange | 45 Comments »