Jimmie Jones pushes a remote, and the machines power up. A menu
appears on each of the three color TV screens. Choices, choices.
Should he watch a movie? Play John Madden's Pro Football 1995 on
Sega-Genesis? Maybe listen to one of the 40 compact discs that
sit in the CD player? Jones pauses and looks mischievously from
side to side. Today's feature presentation will be the Arnold
Schwarzenegger flick Predator. Before he rolls the film, he
adjusts the levels of his 20-speaker, surround-sound stereo
system and checks once more to make certain that the living
room, which also doubles as a 1993 Chevrolet Suburban, is still
Jones, a starting defensive tackle for the St. Louis Rams, is a
self-described big kid. Who's to argue? He is 6'4" and weighs
276 pounds, and despite approaching the dreaded age of 30, he
happily admits that he enjoys playing with his toys. What
separates him from the boys is his ability to indulge himself:
In 1994, after four seasons with the Cowboys, he signed a
four-year, $7.7 million free-agent contract with the Rams.
Combine the outlook of a kid and the bankbook of a pro athlete,
and you might arrive at this: the Suburban cum living room.
(Note to nervous motorists: Jones insists the game room is open
only when the ignition is off and he's "chillin' with the
fellas.") Tastefully redecorated by Jones, the interior features
burnished hardwood and boasts four khaki-colored leather seats.
And as home entertainment centers go, this one is not only
superior to the one he has in his suburban St. Louis apartment,
it blows most others away. Literally. The stereo generates more
than 3,000 watts of power. Like any proud kid, Jones brags about
the time he increased the bass just a bit too much. One side
Jones says he paid about $25,000 for the vehicle and admits
spending at least that much to upgrade it. "When I was a kid, I
didn't have a Tonka truck to push around," he says. "This makes
up a bit for what I missed. This is my Tonka truck."
September 24, 1995
Toy trucks weren't the only thing Jones had to forgo while
growing up in rural Florida. He wasn't allowed to play for his
high school football team during his senior year because he
couldn't attend Okeechobee High's two-a-day summer practices. He
couldn't because he had a full-time job as an assistant
drugstore manager, and the money he earned helped support his
family. Says Jones, "When the coach told me that I either
practiced or I didn't play, I said, 'Coach, if you want to buy
all my school clothes and supplies for me, I'll play for you.'"
Nevertheless, Miami coach Jimmy Johnson offered Jones a
scholarship on the basis of his junior year, when, despite
playing in just four of the Brahmans' 10 games, he led
Okeechobee in sacks and was third in tackles. In college he
helped the Hurricanes win the national championship in 1988 and
'90. In '90 the JJ's were reunited when the Cowboys selected
Jones in the third round.
In his first NFL season Jones was named to several All-Rookie
Teams, and last year, his best, he was second on the Rams in
sacks (5 1/2) and second among their defensive linemen, with 45
Back in the Suburban, as Schwarzenegger nears the climactic
battle with the predator, Jones increases the volume to a level
so loud that one's body vibrates. The big kid leans back in his
leather chair and smiles.