Do y’all remember Cardale Jones? He was the guy that quarterbacked Ohio State through the playoff two years ago and won the whole thing. As a third stringer. Remember?
You might also remember Jones for another reason. He was the guy that visited a sick kid in the hospital…and beat him 97-35 in NCAA Football. And then tweeted to the kid, “I take no prisoners bum.”
Yes, that Cardale Jones has declared for the NFL Draft, and he has all the makings of a star.
At the end of the day, a quarterback’s only job is to win games. Look at Cam Newton. Everyone hated him, then he started winning, and he was everyone’s favorite. He got smoked in the Super Bowl, and everyone hates him again.
And what does Jones do best? He never lost a game he started in college; the three he started his sophomore year were on the biggest of stages possible: the BIG 10 Championship, the College Football Playoff Semifinal and the National Championship. He won all of them. This year, he was trapped in a weird co-starter system on the Buckeyes’ ridiculous roster that featured three excellent quarterbacks but got the W in every game he started.
In those three games as a sophomore, he played like a four-year starter and future first-round draft pick. But he was neither of those. He’d only thrown 19 passes his entire career, before waltzing into Indianapolis for the BIG 10 Championship and thumped Wisconsin 59-0, tossing three touchdowns. Then, he led the 42-35 victory against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, followed by a 42-20 win over Oregon in the National Championship. He was simply overpowering. At 6’5 and nearly 250-pounds, he ran like a tank and threw balls as if his arm was replaced by a bazooka.
And after this last season of having to put up with splitting time at quarterback, Cardale is going pro.
Most players prepare for the NFL Draft just how you would expect: constant workouts, trips to college all-star games, interviews with teams, etc. Jones? Well, he’s just getting back to what makes him great.
On Friday, Jones tweeted that sick kid from the hospital again. “You want some mo?” he asked.
And then: “ok, I was a lil rusty last time, I’m trying to play 15 min quarters so I can score 400.”
His competition seemed skeptical, so Jones flashed his forgiving side: “I’ll cut you some slack, if I don’t beat you by 350 or more, you win.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what I am looking for in the rock of my franchise.
To start, you know that Jones loves football, no doubt. If the greatest athletes – MJ, Pete Rose, Peyton Manning – have one thing in common, it’s that they love their sport to the point that it becomes their singular obsession. Jones has reached the point where, even when doing charity work, he needs to find a way to work some form of football into it. When Eli Manning visits sick kids, he just visits with them. That is time wasted for a true competitor. Jones is able to use the visit to study defenses, strategy and juke/spin/hurdle combinations. It’s a shrewd move, clearly made by someone who can never get enough. That’s the kind of ingenuity and commitment that gets you to the Hall of Fame.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking to build my franchise, the goal isn’t one Super Bowl. I want a dynasty. So with Jones’ latest challenge and his insistence on a rematch, I’m confident I have a guy that will be just as driven for ring number two as he is for his first. Jones is the type of guy that, after losing two games en route to a Super Bowl, will come into camp the next year and demand they go undefeated. It’s all there in his video game playing. He won by 62. Now, he wants to win by 300.
I wouldn’t be too worried about Jones focusing too much time on NCAA Football. These next few months are the most important of his life so far. Where he winds up in the draft and which team he goes to will dictate if he’s a stud or, in his words, a bum. Jones is calm, steady as can be. That’s the type of guy I want dropping back to lead the game winning drive.
But of course, you might be thinking to yourself, “Gee wiz, Joe. He sure sounds great, but…don’t you think he’s a little cocky?”
See, what you’re forgetting is he’s doing all of this for a sick kid. You aren’t witnessing some egomaniac that enjoys stomping all over people when they’re down. He’s giving attention and time to a kid when he is going through something none of us should have to go through. Most players visit the hospital and leave. Jones has built a real relationship. He cares. He isn’t treating the kid like some sort of freak and ostracizing him because he’s sick. He’s taken him under his wing, jawing at him like he would anyone else. That has to make the kid feel like the coolest kid in the children’s hospital. And that has to make you feel like Jones is ready to be the face of a franchise. You might even call him a role model.
Mark my words: every team that passes on Cardale Jones in this draft will lament the day they passed on his greatness. He’s the complete package: he loves football, has drive and poise, and crucially, is an upstanding citizen. I could try and compose some final, overarching piece of support on his behalf. But it would just be a waste of time, though, because it’s already been written as beautifully as possible.
From Jones himself:
“I take no prisoners bum.”