The Jets have an NFL-high and franchise-record seven players named to this year's Pro Bowl. Newyorkjets.com will profile each all-star this week before practices begin in Hawaii next week. Today: Thomas Jones.
Thomas Jones has purposely avoided the Aloha State his entire life.
"I've never been to Hawaii," Jones said. "I always said I'm never going over there unless I've been selected to the Pro Bowl. And it happened this year."
Jones set three Jets season records in 2008 — rush touchdowns (13), total TDs (15) and consecutive games with a TD (8).
"It feels great," said Jones, whose 1,312 rushing yards led the AFC and was fifth in the NFL. "I'm blessed to have the opportunity to score 15 touchdowns. Anytime you break a record it's a real achievement.
"The offensive line has done a great job. I feel like I have the best offensive line in the league. I have the best fullback in the league in Tony Richardson. He has blocked for a lot of great running backs. I'm lucky to have those guys in front of me."
Jets fans may have viewed Jones' season as redemptive following a 2007 campaign in which he rushed for only one touchdown. But many will be surprised to hear that Jones is prouder of '07 than '08.
"Just coming to a new team," he said, "having to adjust to the system, adjust to a new environment and just trying to bring a lot of younger guys along and having to really step into a leadership role, which I've always done, but more so last year because there were so many young guys, especially on the offensive line.
"To end up with 1,100 yards — I know I didn't have a lot of touchdowns, but just the fact that I was mentally tough enough to withstand the whole season, going 4-12, and still finishing in the top 10 in rushing, I think that was probably my best season."
But this season was also impressive enough for his teammates to vote him as the team's Most Valuable Player and the Dennis Byrd Award winner for most inspirational player.
Jones is just as passionate about music as he is about football and he's making moves with his record company, Outta Pocket Entertainment, which recently landed a recording deal for up-and-coming R&B singer Myko Slim with Universal SRC.
"We're going to get the single going and hopefully now we'll get a buzz out there on the streets and the radio and then go from there," said Jones. "It's a good situation. A lot of hard work paid off."
Jones said Myko's single will probably be done by the Pro Bowl and that Universal SRC, which also has deals with pop stars Akon and David Banner, plans to throw Outta Pocket Entertainment a pool party in Hawaii to celebrate.
And that setting has been made possible by Jones' record-breaking 2008 season, which earned him his first Pro Bowl appearance in nine pro seasons.
"This is a team," said Jones. "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.
"By me going out there and playing to win, good things have happened. The offensive line has been doing well all year long and we have had a good relationship. I think everyone on the offensive line should have gone, I think Tony Richardson should have been the fullback, but that's not really up to me. It's a blessing and I am grateful for it."