The Cincinnati Reds 9th round draft pick had been fighting against all odds to live his dream of playing in an NFL football stadium. The 2010 3rd round draft pick of the New York Giants was preparing for his first NFL season, when he nearly lost his left leg in an automobile accident.
Jones’ unrelenting efforts to get back into football shape was documented in Always a Fire. Follow the link to the YouTube video, but be warned of graphic pictures of his leg during surgery, starting at the 2:00 minute mark.
While overcoming so much in just two short years, Jones’ NFL dreams came to end earlier this year. “When it came to football, just as a defensive back, I was stuck at 90%.”
However, Chad Jones didn’t only play football in college. Jones was a two-sport star for the LSU Tigers, winning a Bowl Championship Series title in 2007 with the Tigers and a College World Series title in 2009. As a left-handed reliever, Jim Callis noted “He was a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder with above-average power potential, speed and arm strength as a right fielder, not to mention an 88-93 mph fastball and power slider on the mound.”
So, his comeback trail forked from football onto a path to Major League Baseball. A NY Daily News article written just before the 2013 MLB draft, details the beginning of Jones’ story along this new path.
Jones says he felt “a little stiff, a little tight” in mid-February, but could throw 82 mph. A few weeks later, he hit 85. By mid-April, he was up to 87. He was regaining the slider that had been his out pitch at LSU, and working on a changeup for the first time. And the leg that was a quarter-step slow on the football field wasn’t bothering him at all.
“When it comes to pitching, there’s no glitch, no hitch in any part of my form,” he says. “I can push off. My leg has been put to the test.”
A post-draft story on the NFL website, notes that Jones was throwing at 88 to 91 mph in front of representatives of eight major league teams last month.
“As far as baseball, my body is physically 100 percent,” Jones said, via The Times-Picayune. “I feel real good. I told the teams I feel like I could play in the field again, but pitching is what I’m focused on.”
Read the stories.
“I’m definitely ready for the challenge,” he says. “If I’m in baseball, I’m not giving it up. I’m not giving this up until I succeed.”
Watch the videos.
I cannot wait to see Chad Jones in a Cincinnati uniform.