As a Murphy graduate and former wide receiver for the Crimson Tide under legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, Mobile-native Joey Jones brings local knowledge, professional experience and a seasoned coaching history to the University of South Alabama Jaguars. Jones lettered at Alabama from 1979 to 1983. During his football career, he played professionally for the United States Football League’s Birmingham Stallions and the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons.
When and where did your passion for football begin?
As a kid, I played on a great local ballpark team at Maitre. My coach, Steve Rogers, instilled in me a big love for the game. My mother and father divorced when I was 7 and my father died soon after. I needed something to sink my teeth into.
What was it like to play for Coach “Bear” Bryant?
Playing for Coach Bryant was a dream come true. I may be a little biased, but in my opinion, he’s the best coach who has ever lived. When I first arrived, I was a sixth-string player. The next year, I earned a starting job and kept it for three years. Whenever Coach Bryant looked at me, I knew that I had
finally made it with him. My confidence shot up. It was one of the most pivotal moments of my life.
What does coaching leadership mean to you?
I want the guys here at South to know that I care about them. That does not mean that I am “buddy-buddy” with them. It means I have a genuine care for them and that they are able to trust what I say. When you believe in someone and they believe in you, then you really have something. That is the essence of motivation — caring about someone enough to cause them to not want to let you down. You can talk about goals and being undefeated all you want, but it all starts here for me.
What advice would you offer to the young, aspiring athletes of today?
I talk to my players all the time about living without regrets. Set goals for your life and take advantage of your opportunities. If you have this mindset, you will approach every new day with a purpose.
How did it feel to be inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame?
It was a big honor. When I look at some of the other names on that list, I feel like I should not be anywhere near them. Being honored by my hometown means more to me than anyother honor or hall of fame out there.
In your down time, what do you enjoy doing around the Bay area?
I love Orange Beach. When I have free time, I really like to take my boat around the backwaters of Perdido Pass. For me, there’s nothing more relaxing than listening to music while on my boat. Also, I have to say that Wintzell’s Oyster House has some of the best gumbo on the Gulf Coast, other than my mother’s of course.
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Joshua D. Givens