Head football coach Mike 'The Tackle' Jones is known for his game-saving tackle that led to the St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl victory in 2000. This year he shared the Super Bowl stage with SLUH in a CBS Sports feature (below) viewed by a national audience of more than five million people.
Football coach Mike Jones featured in pre-Super Bowl CBS segment
By Paul Gillam '19
When CBS Sports producer Charlie Bloom called St. Louis U. High head football coach Mike Jones and asked if he would be interested in doing a segment for Super Bowl LII, Bloom wasn’t calling about Jones’ 12 season NFL career, St. Louis Rams Super Bowl XXXIV ring, or career-defining tackle. He was calling about the 14 years Jones has spent coaching high school and college football and the years of mentorship he has given young people.
The five and a half minute sports feature, which aired twice before the Super Bowl on CBS and drew an estimated 5 to 6 million viewers, highlighted the impact Jones has made since his NFL days.
“People are often filming negative stories, (but) here’s one that is talked about for the right reasons that can kind of get forgotten,” said Bloom in a phone call.
Jones was not the only focus of the segment. Kevin Dyson, the Tennessee Titans wide receiver Jones tackled in ‘The Tackle,’ was Jones’ counterpart. Although two men are on two vastly different sides of ‘The Tackle,’ their post-NFL paths have been remarkably similar. After their NFL careers, both actively pursued mentorship of young people—Jones through coaching football and volunteering with many football-related charities and Dyson through teaching and eventually administrative work at Independence High School in Nashville, Tenn.
“When they told me how they wanted to do the segment, I thought it was great because we are almost 20 years removed from playing. Now I’m a coach and Kevin is an administrator (and) we’re both trying to impact young men’s lives,” said Jones.
Since joining the SLUH community last year, Jones has served as a mentor, leader, role-model, and even father figure, characteristics of Jones that the segment makes clear.
“Coach (Jones) is a really nice, generous guy. He cares about all of the players,” said junior running back Sidq Cherry. “He’s a really influential man.”
“He’s a real father figure to us—straightforward and honest,” said junior running back Kellen Porter.
“He could be a football coach and focus just on football—going to the weight room and staying in shape and all those things, which is certainly part of it, but that’s not just what he took from his time in the game. He took leadership, he took service, he took influencing people, and I think that’s a key part of what he brings here,” said SLUH Athletic Director Chris Muskopf.
Jones recalls the influence a past coach has had on him and he hopes to have a similar influence on his players.
“A coach told me a long time ago that his job was to make me a better man from when he got me to when I leave, and that’s what I want to do for (the players),” said Jones just before he watched three of his senior captains sign letters of intent. “I want to make them better young men from the day I meet them to the day I leave and if I do then I did my job.”
This influence was the real story Bloom wanted to capture. Somewhat coincidentally, Jones and CBS agreed to film on Jan. 10, when Jones happened to have a packed schedule, providing an opportunity to see his influence in action. In parts of the segment, Jones is leading a junior class football leadership meeting, presenting letters and jerseys to seniors, and helping with an American Cancer Society youth football event.
The SLUH community was excited to see both Jones and SLUH featured in the nationally-broadcasted piece.
“It tells what I think is a really good story about how Coach Jones … has still continued to work to have an impact on the city, whether it was coaching at Hazelwood East, whether it’s coaching here, whether it’s his charity or foundation events,” said Muskopf. “He’s a quality individual and I’m happy that, in addition to all the great things to our school, his purpose of serving the area and now our school and our young men was highlighted in the video. (The segment) was celebrating our community and celebrating Coach Jones’ presence in it and highlighting the various positive ways his connection to our community enhances what we do.”
“It definitely shined him in a light that the viewers probably weren’t expecting. They probably thought it was about the tackle—which it was about the tackle—but I’d say the majority of the film was about how he is making a great impact in St. Louis and taking up coaching and influencing people,” said senior football captain Nick Lang. “It was a really cool experience for the football team and all the parents.”