James Jones was relaxing with his family Thursday when the texts started coming in from former Green Bay Packers teammates Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers. Jones soon learned the news: The NFL was banning the hoodie.
“I knew that was going to happen, but I’m like, ‘Man, why they picking on the hoodie?’ ” Jones told ESPN Milwaukee (540-AM) in an interview Friday.
The league reportedly will prohibit players from wearing hooded sweatshirts under their jerseys. Jones had popularized the look last season, beginning with a Nov. 22 game at Minnesota when he wore a hoodie beneath his No. 89 jersey and caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in a big road victory.
“It was strictly just to stay warm, but it became a little good-luck charm and it wasn’t harming anybody,” Jones said. “If it’s because the hoodie covers the name, like they say … you know, there’s a bunch of guys in the National Football League that have got long hair and (it) covers their name. So I don’t know the real reason, but (Commissioner) Roger Goodell and them, (maybe) they do it for safety reasons. I’m not mad, but I am kind of angry that they attacked the hoodie.
"We’ve got bigger and better things in our league that need to be fixed. But at the same time, you’ve got to respect it. I’ve never gone against any rules so it’s not like I’m going to run out there with a hoodie and take the fine. I’ve got babies to feed. So the hoodie is officially retired.”
Jones, who became a free agent after the season and remains unsigned, touched on other topics in the conversation, saying he was “surprised” not to be retained by the Packers but that he would be “100 percent” willing to return if they need him again, as they did when Nelson was injured last August. Jones also addressed the issue of how Rodgers interacts with his young receivers. Here’s a sampling:
On his status now and whether he hopes to be playing again soon:
“I definitely want to continue to keep playing. It’s crazy, man. After the season was over I didn’t think I’d be sitting here this long. I would think somebody would come take me off the year that I had (50 receptions for a team-high 890 yards), but at the same time, it’s kind of my life’s story. I lead the Raiders in every category (in 2014) and get released. I lead the Giants in every category in the (2015) preseason and get released. I lead the Packers in a couple categories and they want to go younger.
“I’m sitting here waiting. I’m in shape, I’ve been working extremely hard like I always do. I’m excited about the next move, man. I would love to come back to the Packers but they’ve got other plans. But hopefully it’s somewhere.”
On whether he’s disappointed about not being back after leading the Packers in receiving yards last season:
“Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy, they drafted me, they gave me a chance to play football. So I’ll always be grateful to them. … I wasn’t mad that they didn’t bring me back but I was surprised. Mike and I had a very good conversation at the end of the year after we had lost to Arizona and I kind of felt like, ‘OK, cool, I’m going to be back,’ whether it’s one year, whether it’s two years, I kind of felt like Mike was going to bring me back. But he didn’t. But I don’t have any hard feelings, I love all those guys over there and I hope that they do good. I’m just excited about playing football.”
On whether he’d return if the Packers needed him again:
“One hundred percent, man. I would love to be back there playing football. I kind of was excited after the conversation I had with coach McCarthy. …. I kind of was excited that, shoot, me, Jordy and Randall would get back together with Aaron and do some damage but it didn’t happen. But yeah, 100 percent, man, those are my brothers. I would love to play with this team and win another Super Bowl and finish my career out there. That was my goal; that’s why I was grinding so hard last year to play so well so that I could finish my career off there and not have to move my family (wife Tamika and two young sons).”
On whether he played hurt without admitting it last season:
“I had a hamstring and a knee last year that I was battling through but I’ve kind of got that old-school spirit so I’m always going to do everything to play with pain. I pulled my hamstring in probably the third-to-last game of the season. And I actually tweaked it again before the (wild-card playoff game in Washington) in warm-ups. Then I had my little knee sprain that I was battling with. But everybody plays through pain. After the first day of OTAs, you’re never 100 (percent).”
On what Packers receivers Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery need to do to be more productive:
“First and foremost they need to really take advantage of these OTAs, and training camp and minicamp to really build Aaron’s trust. If you go out there and have 12’s trust, he’s going to give you opportunities to make plays. All four of them need to sit down with Aaron -- you pick Aaron’s brain, you talk to him on the field, you talk to him off the field, you consistently get in his ear on what he wants you to do. … It’s definitely going to take them earning Aaron’s trust, communicating with him and he’s going to put you in the best situation as possible.
“All those guys bring great things to the table. Davante can be special in this league; he had the injury bug last year (sprained ankle) that messed him up mentally and physically. I expect him to bounce back. Jeff and Abby, man, they’re extremely smart and extremely athletic guys. I’m excited to see what they’re going to do with a lot of opportunities. And my sleeper is Ty Montgomery, he’s one of those kids that is going to do everything perfect every time. He’s a professional and he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be and he’s extremely smart, they can move him around to numerous positions. So I’m excited to see how those young guys do. Me being there last year, I built a relationship with every last one of them so I just want to see them all succeed.
“The biggest thing is earning Aaron’s trust. Like me and Randall and Jordy always talk, we’re still trying to earn his trust.”
On whether Rodgers is overly demanding of his receivers:
“For me I loved it, because at the same time it lets me know that you’re trying to win. It lets me know that you care about your job. What’s crazy is, he’s just like that in practice what he is in a game. He wants to be perfect and if it’s not perfect in a game – whether it’s him, whether it’s you – he’s going to own up to it and he’s going to make sure you hold up your end of the bargain. But I love it because I want a competitor, I want a guy out there who, if he’s not doing the right thing then yeah, you get on him, whether I’m on the bad end of it or not. We’re all out here trying to win. We’ve got one goal, trying to win the Super Bowl. … But we need everybody. And that’s how he approaches the game. He’s just trying to win. And when people see that … when (New England Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady does it, it’s all good. But when Aaron does it, he’s not a leader and all this stuff. The guy just wants to win and he wants to get the best out of everybody."
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