Back in November, the Las Vegas Raiders took a chance on cornerback Jack Jones who had been released by the New England Patriots. Aside from his talent, a big reason the franchise was willing to take that chance was the relationship between Jones and Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce.
Jones has had some off-field issues throughout his time in college and the pros, but Pierce has always been someone close to him. The Raiders’ interim coach was actually Jones’ coach at Long Beach Poly High School, and they reunited again when Jones went to Arizona State, where Pierce was on the staff as well.
Now back together once again with the Raiders, Jones is thankful for the relationship he has with Pierce, calling him a mentor and father figure, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN:
“He means everything to me,” Jones said of Pierce. “He’s damn near like a father figure … from high school all the way up until now. Just mentoring me through the ups and downs. Man, he’s a big piece of my life.
“I mean, without him, who knows where I’d be at.”
It has certainly been a long road for Jones, filled with twists and turns and obstacles to overcome. Pierce understands that and, despite the past issues, the Raiders coach believes in the cornerback:
“He’s always been a wild card, sometimes hit or miss, good or bad,” Pierce said of Jones. “But he’s a very good football player. Football means a lot to Jack. Football is a way for him to get out of the hood, to be honest, where he came from. He used those resources to benefit his life, his family. He went to school, went to ASU and got a degree.
“He’s a father, a good man. Been in some trouble. The kid loves to smile. Every time you see him, he’s smiling. He loves football. Can’t have enough of those guys around that love football.”
It was Jones, of course, who capped off the Raiders’ 63-point effort against the Chargers with an unbelievable pick-six of Easton Stick. It was a play that not only showed off his ball skills but also his IQ and commitment to film study as he read the screen play perfectly. So well, in fact, that he overran and had to reach back to complete the interception, making for a remarkable one-handed catch.
Sometimes, it takes the right situation and the right people around to get the best out of talented players. For Jack Jones, having Antonio Pierce around makes everything better and the Raiders are the beneficiary of it.