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: Why I Am Thankful

You would think that after 40 years of publishing an annual list of things for which I am thankful, I’d be getting to the bottom of it, but it seems the older I get I have found I appreciate so much more around me. I take absolute delight in planting a flower, feeding the birds and throwing a ball for my dog. I find that the more people who I come to know the more who I come to ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t know who was the first to do the Famous Pregnant Turkey prank but I’ll bet you a handful of giblets there will be a lot of copycats who try it today. The trick is finding a Cornish hen that is small enough to stuff inside the larger turkey. Then you skillfully pack the bird with some of that sausage-sage dressing and put your Thanksgiving dinner in the oven. When all ... (click for more)

$100,000 Powereball Winner In Greeneville

A Tennessee Lottery Powerball player in Greeneville woke up Thanksgiving morning a $100,000 winner.  The as-yet-unknown player matched 4 of 5 white balls drawn plus the Powerball in the Wednesday night drawing, which has a base prize of $50,000. Since he or she added the Power Play option for a dollar, the prize was multiplied by the Power Play number drawn, which was ... (click for more)

Hixson Burglary Suspect Tries To Swim Away; Deputies Catch Him In Borrowed Boat

A Hixson burglary suspect on Wednesday tried to swim away from deputies, but to no avail.   The proprietor of Chattanooga Fish and Fun was notified when his camera system was triggered by an individual attempting to break into his business. The owner immediately contacted the Sheriff's Office and drove to the business location.   As deputies arrived on scene, ... (click for more)

Rodney Stoker Wins Turkey Trot 8K Again

It has been about 15 years since Rodney Stoker captured first place overall in the annual Sports Barn Turkey Trot, but he’s been doing some serious training in recent weeks and it paid off Thursday morning as the 41-year-old former UTC standout was victorious with a time of 27 minutes, 18 seconds. Dylan Hassett, a promising 24-year-old from Atlanta who is making her way as a ... (click for more)

JOHN HUNT: Thanksgiving 2017 Special As Always

I can’t believe it’s that time again.  Another year has come and gone and where did it all go? My father once told me that time really flies as you get older and I’m starting to believe him. But we’re back to one of my favorite holidays of the year – Thanksgiving – and I’m looking forward to spending quality time with family and friends.  I’m sure that I’ll eat too ... (click for more)