Even at the Pro Bowl, you knew music impresario Thomas Jones would be a little bit about the tunes.
"I had a pool party during the week and it was great," said Jones, the Jets running back, from the final walkthrough today at Aloha Stadium for Sunday's all-star game at the same venue. "All the guys came, and we had a couple of celebrities hosting it and DJ-ing it. Everybody had a good time and enjoyed themselves."
But Jones is also very much about the football. He's enjoying himself this week doubly because he was able to end his embargo of the Hawaiian Islands because he was voted to a Pro Bowl roster for the first time in his ninth NFL season.
"Everything's going great," he said between the AFC and NFC practices amid the joyful noise inside the colorful Honolulu stadium as thousands of fans were admitted free to watch these final tuneups. "Just being around all these good guys, being in this environment, and having all my family over here and enjoying Hawaii has been a great experience."
TJ agreed with the premise expressed some of the five other Jets playing in Sunday's game that this Pro Bowl is not just an end to '08 for the Green & White.
"To have this many guys over here playing on the team, it means a lot," he said. "It says a lot about your team and about the caliber of guys you have on your team. We had a lot of other guys who could've made it this year. Despite not making the playoffs we had some great individual efforts. So we've got to take this and run with it going into next season."
Which is what Jones had been doing all of this season. Jones is the AFC's starting tailback, heading a depth chart that now includes fellow AFC East backs Ronnie Brown of Miami and Marshawn Lynch of Buffalo. (Tennessee rookie Chris Johnson withdrew due to injury.)
The starting nod is only right, since Jones led the conference with 1,312 rushing yards and set career highs with 13 rushing TDs, 15 total TDs, 1,519 yards from scrimmage and 75 first downs. But the chance to continue that damage against the best of the best that NFC defenses have to offer is not foremost in his thinking.
"I'm just going to have fun," he said. "I'm going to go out there, enjoy myself, play the game I love to play, just play with some great players, and I'll see how it goes."
Rhodes to Hawaii
Who should show up in the end zone to watch the AFC's practice this morning than Jets S Kerry Rhodes? No, KR was not a late, late injury sub for the Americans. Actually, he flew in Wednesday to assume a journalist's role for the game — he did some interviews today for MTV, which he said plans to air his reports as part of its MTV News package in the coming week.
Kerry watched from the end zone and checked in with his teammates in the game as each came by and gave him a hug. NT Kris Jenkins, of course, had the liveliest hello. After their embrace, he dropped back and threw a few playful left jabs and right hooks at his backfield mate. None made contact.
Rhodes told me he has spoken with new head coach Rex Ryan.
"Rex told me in his first call to me that he had wanted to get me [for the Ravens] back when I was drafted, and now he's finally got me," Rhodes recalled. 'The things he's talking about for us, it sounds like it can be real good."