Why does Jets' Jones dig the Golden Girls?

Jets running back Thomas Jones said he enjoys Jets running back Thomas Jones said he enjoys watching "Golden Girls" marathons because it reminds him of "how things kind of used to be." Photo Credit: AP (Golden Girls); Joe Rogate (Jones)

advertisement | advertise on newsday

CORTLAND, N.Y - Thomas Jones has arms that would make Popeye jealous. His legs mirror something akin to a street light pole.

When he's sporting his uniform, complete with the rolled- up sleeves that show off his muscular physique, it looks as if he could rip his jersey in multiple places just by sneezing. Yet on a typical practice day for the Jets, after the running back works out, takes a shower and grabs something to eat, he ends it in a way that is hard to believe.

The 5-10, 210-pound human locomotive who led the AFC in rushing with 1,312 yards last season plops down on the sofa and flips right to Lifetime to check out something that doesn't mesh with his public persona.

Do the names Blanche, Rose, Sophia and Dorothy ring a bell?

"My favorite thing to do to relax is sit on the couch and watch the 'Golden Girls' marathon," Jones said in a rare sitdown interview that Newsday took part in Thursday. "It's just relaxing because it kind of puts me in a mind-set of how things kind of used to be.

"The world is a crazy place now. You've got so much stuff going on. When I see that show, it reminds me of those times when you could go outside and have fun and ride your bike all day.

"So I just try to do whatever I can to take me back to where things were normal. A lot of people are like, 'Oh, he's an NFL player and he's watching "The Golden Girls''?' But it's just the fact and principle of it."

Jones' gruff look, usually accompanied by a scowl, scares off most people. He doesn't talk much to the media, so there are those who believe he's standoffish and angry. Jones said that's just his public face and that he doesn't care what those not in his inner circle think of him.

He's a private guy, but he's always on his toes when he slides into the glaring spotlight.

"When you step outside, you have to have your game face on just because you never know what's going to happen, who's going to come at you, how they're going to come at you," said Jones, who also loves to catch "The Cosby Show" and "Saved by the Bell." "Me, I don't ever like to get caught slipping. I like to always be on point all the time."

Jones got rubbed the wrong way early in his NFL career and said that's part of the reason why he's the way he is now. Some labeled him a bust during his days in Arizona, saying he was injury-prone and that he never lived up to his potential as the seventh overall pick in the 2000 draft. He rushed for only 373 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season and ran for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns on 362 carries in his three years with the Cardinals.

"When you are the seventh pick in the draft, they expect you to have 1,800 yards your rookie year and 20 touchdowns and Super Bowl MVP," Jones said. "There was just a lot of expectations because of the money, and that's not reality."

When Jones skipped most of the Jets' voluntary training sessions this offseason, there was talk he wasn't happy with his four-year, $20-million contract because he was scheduled to make $900,000 in base salary in 2009 despite coming off the second-highest rushing output of his career and a franchise-record 15 total touchdowns.

Jones said he simply was working out in Miami with his own trainer and players such as Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco and teammate Lito Sheppard. He said he had nothing against training with his teammates and can't get enough of being a part of the New York football scene.

"It's a tough city to play for, but when you win, the rewards are huge, just like in Chicago," Jones said. "It's kind of similar. But I love playing for the New York Jets. I love playing in New York.''

You also may be interested in: