They’ve got a thing going on....
Working in Foxboro, MA and living close to Gillette Stadium, I hear people talking all the time about the Patriots’ players.
And one player in particular remains in a number of Patriots’ fans’ minds...
Yes, there was the bizarre incident where on the eve of the playoffs in January of 2014 where early one morning Jones was found in sweat pants and no shirt kneeling in the parking lot of the police station. It appeared as if Jones was praying.
When the police accosted him, Jones quickly identified himself and told them he was having a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana. The police quickly summoned the paramedics and declared the situation a “medical emergency.”
Jones was brought by ambulance to Norwood Hospital, where he was treated and released a few hours later. He was never arrested and was not disciplined by the NFL for the incident.
The main reason why Jones was able to quickly atone for his actions is that he was completely honest with the police and the Patriots. He immediately confessed, “I made a stupid mistake.” He never missed a practice. He started in that Saturday’s playoff game and impacted the outcome of the game with a forced fumble and a sack.
Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft publicly came to Jones’ defense. “As Bill [Belichick] said, our players’ health and safety is by far and away the most paramount thing,” Kraft said. “Hopefully, anybody, whether in our organization or anywhere, when you feel at risk, you go to the police. So I think that’s a good thing.”
When the Cardinals traded for Chandler Jones, there was rampant speculations that Jones had grown out of favor with Belichick and Kraft. That actually was never the case. The first reason why they traded Jones is that they did not think they could afford to re-sign him, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins to lucrative, market-value contract extensions. The second reason was that the Patriots needed the high draft pick, because they had just lost their first round pick in the wake of the Deflategate scandal.
I can tell you that Patriots’ fans still regret that the Patriots let Jones go. Just as we have seen in Arizona, Jones was a popular, outgoing and gregarious player—-and fans still are piqued that the Patriots have still not acquired an edge rusher anywhere near his caliber.
At Foxborough High School, I still see a number of students wearing Chandler Jones jerseys. He was—-and in some cases still is—-their favorite pass rusher.
One day while shopping at the Foxborough Stop and Shop, while I was loading my groceries on the ckeck-out line, a slender, elderly woman with white, long, gossamer-like hair and an angelic face pulled her cart up next to mine. When I looked over at her, she smiled.
Sometimes you just know when you are in the presence of someone special.
We quickly struck up a conversation. When I told her that I am a teacher at the high school, she asked me if I knew of any way to contact Robert Kraft and Tom Brady.
When I asked her why she wanted to contact Robert Kraft and Tom Brady, she said, “I lost my favoraite Patriots’ player, Chandler Jones, and he was my link to Kraft and Brady.”
The lovely woman proceeded to tell me that she was a three time cancer survivor and that her main hobby is to knit sweaters for cancer patients. She said, “When I heard that Tom Brady’s mother was being treated for cancer, I knitted her a special sweater. Thus, I have been wanting to hand it over to Robert and Tom.”
When I asked her how she knew Chandler Jones, she said she had met him one day right there at Stop and Shop. She had a feeling that he was a Patriot, so she approached him and asked. At that time the woman was fighting through her latest cancer scare and was wearing a bandana because she had lost all of her beautiful white hair as a result of the kemotherapy.
“He was so sweet to me,” she recalled. “He asked me about my cancer and how I was doing with the treatments. And after our long conversation, he asked me for my phone number so that he could keep up to date with how I was doing.”
“He called me every week for several months until my cancer was in full remission. A few times when I was at my worst, he brought me groceries. I was very sad when he told me they traded him. I miss him.”
“I will never forget my good friend Mr. Chandler Jones,” she beamed. “He promised he will still call every now and then.”
Sometimes a friendship is “much too strong—-to let it go.”