Jones Never Gave Up

Bears RB Thomas Jones talked to the media about his career challenges leading up to the Super Bowl, playing with Cedric Benson, and what it means to never give up on your dreams...

(on whether his experiences in Arizona and Tampa Bay make him appreciate where he is now)
"Definitely. That's the one thing that you have to look at and get past – it makes you appreciate the good things that have happened. This is the best 
thing that can happen to you in football, to make it to the Super Bowl. Having those tough situations to deal with, trying to make a name for yourself, trying to make a home for yourself, and then finally you come to a place where it happens, it makes all those tough times worthwhile." 

(on why he thinks Tampa Bay did not want to keep him around)
"I was traded there for a year. Michael Pittman was there and Mike Alstott… those are the kind of base of their offense. I was just a role player when I came. They gave me an opportunity to finally go out there and show my skills, and I was grateful for that. It just wasn't meant for me to stay there." 

(on why he thinks he didn't see more time in Jon Gruden's offense while with Tampa Bay)
"We had a lot of good players. Aaron Stecker, Michael Pittman, Mike Alstott, there were a lot of guys that he wanted to utilize. He just tried to spread the ball around to get as many good players on the field as possible. There were a lot of times that me and Michael Pittman were on the field at the same time. A lot of times that me and Aaron Stecker were on the field at the same time. Coach Gruden just wanted to utilize all his players." 

(on if he thinks that Gruden used him the best way)
"The reason why I'm very appreciative of Coach Gruden is that when I first signed with Tampa Bay, when I was traded, he took me in his office during training camp and practice and said, ‘look, you're not in Arizona anymore, you're here and I know the potential you have. You're going to wear number six in practice," that's the number I wore in college. He said, ‘ I want you to get back to who you were in college, I want your mindset to go back to where you were in college.' So I wore number six during practice during training camp and he made me accountable for my mistakes. He was a perfectionist and a lot of his attitude rubbed off on not only me, but the whole team. Coach Gruden and the rest of the coaches down there, and the older players – Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice – those were guys that I was finally able to be around and they were leaders. They led by example, so I just followed their lead and that helped transform me into the player I was." 

(on how he signed with the Chicago Bears so quickly into free agency three years ago)
"As soon as free agency came, the Bears were the best situation for me. Terry Shea was coming up here with that Kansas City-type offense, and they felt that I would fit in well and be a good fit for that offense. I think I was the first guy to sign on the first day of free agency. I pretty much knew I wanted to come to Chicago. I loved the city, I loved everything about the Chicago Bears' football team. So this was just a great opportunity for me." 

(on the Bears showing him a commitment that he would be ‘the guy')
"They showed me the commitment. They showed a lot of interest, they really wanted me. Coach (Lovie) Smith was the new coach, so it was kind of like a fresh start for me. Finally I would be able to play in a major city, a big city where you can play in front of a lot of people, in front of a home town who loves their football team. I always heard that the Bears fans really loved their football team, but you can only imagine that if you're not playing for the Bears. Once you put that uniform on and you go out to the field, it's an unbelievable feeling how much the fans support you."

(on how his chemistry with Benson has developed)
"When you're winning football games, lots of things change. When you're winning, that's all that matters. When I was at Tampa Bay and Arizona I understood the situation with Michael Pittman, he was there before me, he's a great player, he was great in the passing game and he could run the ball. So in the NFL teams want to win. They want to utilize every guy that they can to help them win, they're not focused on their individual goals or individual achievements." 

(Getty Images/Al Bello)

(on whether he sees the need to have a one-two punch at running back like himself and Benson)
"It's definitely an asset to your team. The more good players you have on your team, the better off your team is going to be. There's just more guys 
that can make plays. Whether it's running back, whether it's receiver, whether it's linebackers… whatever position it is, if you have two guys, that's going to be better for your football team." 

(on his wanting to prove that he's the number one running back over Cedric Benson, long-term)
"I haven't even really thought about that. This season I've just been so focused on trying to help us win. Going into this year we knew we'd have 
an opportunity to make it to the Super Bowl if we really kept everyone healthy and we really believed in our team. That's just what our mindset has been, and right now my mindset is just on winning the Super Bowl." 

(on his and Benson's play possibly being a bigger factor in the Super Bowl due to Indianapolis' run defense)
"We just go out there and try to make plays. The Colts have stepped their defensive game up a lot from the regular season. They're making plays, they have some great players on defense. So we're just going to try to do the best we can to make plays when we have opportunities and trying to do the little things. I think that's what's really going to matter in this football game, the little things."

(on whether he could see this happening after going through those tough times)
"I always hoped that one day I'd be able to go to the Super Bowl. I never gave up on that. Coming to the Super Bowl was always something that I dreamed of when I was a kid. You never really lose that dream. No matter what situation you're in, you always think that you're going to have 
the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl." 

(on being the starting running back for a Super Bowl team)
"That's big too. Being on the team that gets to the Super Bowl is a very special accomplishment, but if you're a guy that has the opportunity to contribute and make plays in the Super Bowl and help your team win, that's really something that you strive for." 

(on why he thinks Indianapolis' run defense has improved so much in the playoffs)
"The safety's back, Bob Sanders, he was hurt a lot. He makes a big difference in their defense. They do a really good job of doing their stunts and blitzes. They do a really good job of flying to the ball. They're just playing really good team defense." 

(on how he grew into his current leadership role)
"Just naturally. I've always been a leader. In high school I was team captain. In college I was team captain. It's just something that I've always been, a leader. I try my best to lead by example more so than being a rah-rah guy."

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