Tom Jones was born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and studied English at the University of South Florida from 1982 to 1986.
He began his writing career with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1985. He then went on to work for the St. Petersburg Times from 1987 to 1991, the Tampa Tribune from 1991 to 1996, the St. Petersburg Times again from 1996 to 2000 and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune from 2000 to 2003. He then rejoined the St. Petersburg Times for a third time in his career in 2003, where he worked ever since.
Jones has spent most of his career covering the NHL, including being a beat writer for more than 15 years of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota. Wild. He also spent two years on the Tampa Bay Rays beat. He then become a columnist at Times starting in 2007. Jones has won several national and state writing awards, including a top 10 game story in the nation in 1998 as named by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Over the course of his career, Jones has covered the Olympics, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup finals, baseball and hockey all-star games, the NCAA basketball tournament and the Frozen Four.
Jones lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Patty, and sons, Sam and Andy.
With over two decades of reporting on professional and collegiate sports for the Tampa Bay Times, through performance and work experience in journalism and broadcasting in television and radio, Rick Stroud has cultivated an impressive list of sources and utilized his knowledge to produce an outstanding body of work in both print and electronic mediums.
During his career, Stroud has reported on national sporting events including 22 Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, and the Major League Baseball Playoffs. While working as the beat writer assigned to the University of Florida at the Times, Stroud’s stories documented NCAA rules violations by the football and basketball programs. The stories for which Stroud won second place for Best Investigative Reporting from the Associated Press Sports Editors, led to sanctions against both Gators programs.
Since 2004, Stroud has appeared as an NFL Insider for ESPN2’s First Take and is a regular contributor to ESPN’s SportsCenter, NFL Live, Outside the Lines and Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio. He also contributes to NFL Network’s Total Access.
Stroud becan covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the National Football League in 1990. Since then, the Bucs have undergone seven coaching changes, the death of owner Hugh Culverhouse and the sale of the franchise to billionaire owner Malcolm Glazer and a stadium referendum. They also celebrated a Super Bowl XXVII victory. His reporting was referenced in Tony Dungy’s best seller, Quiet Strength, particularly because it was Stroud who informed Dungy of the Bucs’ plan to replace him with Giants Super Bowl coach Bill Parcells.
A former Div. I-A baseball player at Arkansas , Stroud brings a unique perspective to sports reporting. During the NFL lockout in 2011, he also served as one of the Times’ beat writers responsible for covering the Tampa Bay Rays.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o ended a trying three months by putting up a respectable 40-yard dash time Tuesday.
"I thought I did pretty good," Te'o said after his pro day workout in front of scouts from 27 of 32 NFL teams. "I'm very pleased with the way that I performed."
Some had expressed concern whether Te'o could be an every-down back in the NFL after he was timed at 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine in Indianapolis.
But he was timed at 4.69 seconds at Notre Dame's indoor practice facility, attributing the improvement to being more comfortable at home and around friends.
Te'o is hoping to be picked in the first round of next month's NFL draft.
He also bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times and ran the 60-yard shuttle in 11.78 seconds while letting his other performances at the combine stand.
The Heisman Trophy runner-up had an off game in the BCS championship game against Alabama in January.
He then came under scrutiny after it was revealed he fell in love online with a woman who didn't exist and then had the disappointing time at the combine.
His performance Tuesday came as a relief.
"This is possibly the best day ever. It's a big, big burden off your shoulders," he said. "It feels like it's your birthday. I'm very glad that it's over."
Te'o has already met with some NFL teams and has plans to meet with more. He said teams have different levels of interest in talking about how he was duped into having an online relationship with a fake girlfriend.
"Some guys just want to be brief on what happened. Some guys go into a little bit more depth. But overall, it's been a great opportunity, a great experience. It went better than I expected," he said.
Te'o said he had heard some stories about players being grilled by NFL management, but said that hasn't been what he's encountered. He said his message to them is he wants to focus being as a football player.
"I'm a football player, I made mistakes, but nothing that affected my play on the football field," he said.
He said teams haven't asked him about being an every-down player, saying they want to know how he went from having no interceptions in his first three seasons to picking off seven as a senior.
Te'o said the key was losing weight, understanding where he was supposed to be and studying film to learn opponents' tendencies.
Te'o was one of 14 Notre Dame players taking part in the pro day. Tight end Tyler Eifert, also considered a possible first-round pick, did not do any of the events he took part in at the combine, but did take part in position drills.
Eifert said he believes what he did last season, catching 50 passes for 685 yards and four touchdowns, is what will be most important in determining where he will be drafted.
"It's not make-or-break if you don't do well at the combine or the pro day. You've already shown what you can do on tape and that's what really matters," Eifert said.
If Te'o and Eifert are both taken in the first round, it would mark the second straight year for Irish players.
Last year, receiver Michael Floyd was taken by Arizona with the 13th pick and safety Harrison Smith was taken with the 29th pick.
Before that, it hadn't happened since three Irish players were taken in the first round in 1994.
Te'o, who worked out with Eifert in Florida, thanked him for his support while news about his fake girlfriend broke, with Te'o appearing on Katie Couric's syndicated talk show and the man behind the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, being interviewed by Dr. Phil McGraw for the "Dr. Phil Show."
"I owe a debt to this guy. I was going through the hardest time in my life and I was lucky to have one of my best friends with me. This guy checked up on me every day," Te'o said.
Te'o also said that having his name called during the NFL draft will be a dream come true.
"Obviously, when that happens I'm going to be happy," he said. "That's just the first step to a very, very long journey."