Roy Exum: The Beauty Of Barrett Jones

Monday, December 26, 2011 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Barrett Jones has made quite a name for himself as an All-American tackle at Alabama. He won the Jacobs Award as the top blocker in the Southeastern Conference and he was awarded the prestigious Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in all of football.

But the beauty of Barrett Jones didn’t get its holiday shine until yesterday – on Christmas - when the Memphis Commercial Appeal named him as the city’s Sportsman of the Year. That’s right, of all the male and female athletes in the sprawling West Tennessee city, ranging from pro basketball’s Memphis Grizzlies to some of the best amateur golfers and tennis players in the state, Barrett was an easy choice and football, oddly enough, didn’t have that much to do with it.

His own explanation is adequate. "I don't want to be a football player who does other things - I want to be Barrett who happens to play football," said the 21-year-old, "That's part of who I am. I love giving back. It really brings me great joy to do that."

Now let me tell you about the “real” Barrett Jones. He’s just a junior but he has already graduated from Alabama, earning a degree in accounting this August with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. He’s now in grad school as the top scholar-athlete for football in all the SEC, which is why he was just awarded the Wuerffel Trophy – the award given in the BCS to the top player in the country who combines community service, academics and athletics in the best way.

He’s been on two mission trips to Haiti. When deadly tornadoes hit Tuscaloosa this spring, he was the first Alabama player who rushed to help and the last to leave. He just allowed pie-plates filled with whipped cream to be hurled in his face to help a fundraiser for world hunger and that’s a feat in itself – Barrett is 6-foot-5 and weighs 315 pounds.

"I just want to have fun,” the humble and modest giant told sportswriter Ron Higgins. “I love college. I love being on a team and I love having friends outside of football. You have to find the fun in all this. There's so much hard work, but if you miss the fun, you're going to miss out on something special. Alabama has been a great experience. It has been everything I thought it would be and more."

How’s that at a time when some other college players are being suspended for smoking synthetic marijuana, trading tickets for tattoos, fighting in bars and – because of a court order – rendering far different community services. Barrett Jones is the best “feel good” story at Christmas you ever heard but he is also one of the most loved players on the Alabama team that will play LSU for the national championship in just two weeks.

"I think Barrett's our Most Valuable Player," said Alabama All-American running back Trent Richardson while Chance Warmack, a fellow lineman, laughed and called Barrett "just an all-around good dude."

What about head coach Nick Saban, who has watched the stellar tackle start in 39 games and win 35 of them? “Barrett Jones is probably as fine a person as I have ever had the opportunity to coach in terms of character, attitude, intelligence, willingness to give of himself to help other people.”

Barrett, whose father played basketball for the Crimson Tide and whose brother is now a yearling tight end at Alabama, gives all the credit to his mother and father. "Mom taught me to be well-rounded, to invest in school work and invest in the community, but it was my dad who gave me my athletic genes and my work ethic," he explained. "When I very young, whether it was working in the yard, or practicing a sport, he taught me how to dedicate myself to become great at it."

His teammates call him “Knowledge”
because he knows so much about so many things and they think it is hysterical that he started taking violin lessons at age three and just two years later was serenading seniors at a retirement home. “He’s a little bit of a nerd,” joked the runner Richardson, but Jones’ mother rushed to her son’s defense by saying, "Barrett was just a smart little kid, and I knew he had all this energy to learn," Leslie Jones said. "He wanted to know everything at a really early age."

Barrett took a rash of kidding when his teammates found out the bruising tackler was a violinist. “I'm glad I learned how to play violin. When you do something and want to become great at it, you practice it a lot. The violin really taught me a work ethic at a young age."

So now you can see why he doesn’t just want to be a football player who does other things. No, he wants to be Barrett who just happens to play football. “It is so important to remember who you truly are,” said the newest Memphis Sportsman of the Year.

And that is the beauty of Barrett Jones, the man, not just the All-American.

royexum@aol.com


Roy Exum: Look At My April Garden

On this April Fool’s Day, as I take my monthly stroll through my virtual garden, there are gorgeous flowers and there are weeds, which appear to be trying harder than the flowers. So let’s see what we find before searching for “The Prize Egg” on Sunday. A FLOWER to the New York cab driver who told a young writer, “Always remember that everyone you meet knows something that you ... (click for more)

Easter Sunday Is Victory Day For Christians

Easter Sunday is a Christian's day of celebration.  We will not be denied our day of victory for the sake of political correctness.  We may be suppressed and labeled as fanatical and offensive, and we may be denied our freedom to openly express our faith but one thing we cannot be denied; the reality of an empty tomb.     He lives!   While others ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Detective Karl Fields Terminated On Code Of Conduct Charges

Karl Fields, former Chattanooga Police detective, was terminated on Wednesday on code of conduct charges. The Chattanooga Police Department said it received a correspondence from the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office o n Sept. 4, 2014,  informing it of allegations of inappropriate behavior committed by a CPD investigator during the course of a rape investigation. ... (click for more)

Autopsy Says 5-Year-Old Whitwell Boy Died Of Blunt Force Trauma

An autopsy on five-year-old Lucas Dillon of Whitwell says he died of blunt force trauma. The TBI is investigating the death, which is being treated as a homicide. The child, who lived on Jewell Lane Road, was injured on Saturday and died in a hospital on Monday. Lucas was a student at Whitwell Head Start. (click for more)

'Canes Edge Mustangs On Cox's Game-Winner In 7th

  Maybe it was just East Hamilton’s turn to win a tight game. After dropping 5-4 and 2-1 decisions to District 5-AAA rivals Bradley Central and McMinn County, respectively, the Hurricanes weren’t about to lose their third straight one-run decision in league play on Tuesday. So, Kyle Cox and Matt Milita, two of the team’s five seniors, decided to do something about ... (click for more)

Central Scores Early, Hangs On To Beat Red Bank, 7-6

Central baseball coach Glen Carter could finally breathe a sigh of relief. His Purple Pounders had bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings of Monday's 6-AA skirmish with the Red Bank Lions and things were looking pretty good for those guys in purple. But it all came down to Red Bank's final at-bat.  The Lions sent eight hitters to the plate and scored ... (click for more)