Catching up with Mike Jones

Posted Jun 26, 2014

Julia Faron caught up with Super Bowl champion and former St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones to discuss "The Tackle", coaching college football and much more.

This season marks the 15th anniversary of the Rams 1999 Super Bowl win. Mike Jones is known for his infamous tackle that clinched the win for the Rams. It is one single play out of Jones’ 12-year NFL career that is arguably, one of the franchise’s all-time most defining plays in its history. 

The Rams are up, 23-16. It’s first down for the Tennessee Titans at the St. Louis 10-yard line. Titans QB Steve McNair takes the snap, throws and connects with wideout Kevin Dyson for a 9-yard gain but he is tackled  by Jones just 1-yard short of the tie and just in time for the game clock to expire – Rams are World Champs.

Jones made seven other tackles that day, 52 other tackles that season, 728 other tackles in his career but this is the one people still like to talk about. All of those other plays are what make ‘The Tackle’ so memorable for Jones himself.

“The Super Bowl was the icing on the cake, but it’s always the journey,” Jones said. “Not necessarily when you get there but the journey getting to the Super Bowl is the best part about it.”

As Jones pointed out, that year, the team brought playoff football to St. Louis for the first time ever and beat the 49ers for the first time in 17 games, twice.

“There are a lot of different things that went on that year,” Jones said. “Coach Vermeil and how much he cared about us, being able to play for him. We had a lot of great camaraderie on that team.”

Jones went on to play three more seasons in the NFL before retiring following the 2002 season. A Missouri native, Jones went with his best friend who at the time was the assistant head coach at Hazelwood East High School to watch them play against Webster Groves. He expressed interest in coaching there and opportunity became available, so he jumped on it.

“I was able to become the head coach in two years and we won a state championship my first year as a head coach,” Jones said. “I love coaching high school football.”

After six years at Hazelwood East, he got an opportunity to go to Southern University when Stump Mitchell got the job there. Mitchell and Jones shared an agent and had developed a relationship over the years. Jones stayed there for a year, before his current role at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., opened up.

Jones is entering his fourth season as the head coach at Lincoln. Since taking over, the team has seen school record-breaking success on the field. In 2013, the Blue Tigers broke two team single-season records and nine individual season records. They also won consecutive MIAA games for the first time since 1973 and defeated Grambling State, an NCAA Division FCS opponent. Yet, Jones credits their off the field accomplishments as the foundation for their on-field successes.

“It starts with the kids and how they’re doing in the classroom, graduating and doing the right things there,” Jones said. “The last two years, we’ve graduated 25 student athletes and that’s the most they’ve graduated in probably 10 years combined.”

To help establish the winning culture at Lincoln, Jones laid out a road map of sorts for the student athletes to follow and strive towards. His biggest accomplishment has been to recruit and retain the players that buy into the program.

“You have to set a very high standard for your players to obtain,” said Jones. “You have to set parameters for you and your players and that’s the only way you can be successful. That’s not just in football, that’s in everything.”

A loyal Missourian, Jones has now been a part of football in Kansas City, Columbia, St. Louis and Jefferson City. Since Jones is just down I-70, he has enjoyed staying in touch with the current Rams’ roster. In fact, he made the trip to Rams Park recently to watch the 2014 rookie class work and made a point to connect with fellow University of Missouri products, CB E.J. Gaines and DE Michael Sam.

“It’s always good to see Mizzou guys do well for the Rams,” said Jones. “You’re playing for the home state team, these guys get a chance to see you and then when you get a chance to get back to Columbia and see them.”

Currently, Jones is gearing up for the 2014 season to get underway at Lincoln. They will take on Langston in the second annual Missouri Classic on August 9, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. As part of the Rams family, we wish the Blue Tigers luck in having another record setting season under the tutelage of Mike ‘The Tackle’ Jones.