'All butt and gut' terrorized the CFL

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:47 PM ET

Allow me to preface this piece by pointing out that we listed linebacker Tyrone Jones as No. 37 (which may be too low anyway) on The Sun's top 75 Blue Bombers of all time on their 75th anniversary last week. But since Jones announced that he is suffering from terminal cancer earlier this week, we have decided to feature him today as a special tribute to not only one of the best linebackers to ever play in the CFL but one of its most colourful characters.

(Readers are reminded that they can donate to the Tyrone Jones Fund, to help him offset exorbitant medical costs, at local TD Canada Trust locations. All proceeds from Never Alone bracelets this weekend will be added to that fund.)

His former teammates still refer to him as "all butt and gut" but Tyrone Jones played with a passion and grandeur that belied his unorthodox shape.

And the outside linebacker was not only fast on his feet but just as quick with a quip. In fact, during one of his many off-field battles with then-GM Cal Murphy, Jones once objected, saying, "I'm not Jeffrey Dahmer."

Now, Dahmer was a notorious serial killer who was known to eat his victims.

Jones laughed heartily at the memory during his visit to Winnipeg for the club's special anniversary celebrations.

"That was just what I felt," he recalled. "And I just got the impression that everyone felt that I was being a maniac, which was my ultimate reaction, and I just reacted to things."

But Jones now regrets butting heads with Murphy.

"There were just issues going on," he said. "I think Cal Murphy is probably one of the most brilliant football men I've ever met and I think he's given me the same accolades as far as being a good football player. But I think we bumped heads midway through my career.

"I guess it was like a mid-life crisis we had, for both of us, and me being a union rep, I felt I had to voice my opinion on what I thought a lot of the guys in the locker room thought were going on. I allowed too much of the business aspect to get into our relationship. If I had re-do something, it would be the relationship I had with him."

Jones paid for it by being dealt to B.C. But not before putting up some brilliant defensive numbers for the Bombers as he was a key to their winning Grey Cups in 1984, '88 and '90.

GREY CUP RECORDS

Jones, now 44, is a Bomber Hall of Famer and likely a future Canadian Football Hall of Famer who was a four-time CFL and five-time divisional all-star. Jones still holds the club career sack record (98). He also boasts the second-most (20.5) and third-most sacks in a CFL season (17.5). Jones still has Grey Cup records for most sacks in a game (four) and most career Grey Cup sacks (five).

Jones also holds the club mark for most sacks in a regular-season game (4.5), which is the second-best ever in the CFL. He won the Schenley Award for Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 1985.

"If I had a highlight, it would be winning the 1984 Grey Cup due to fact that the Bombers hadn't won for 22 years prior to that," he said. "Just being a part of that Grey Cup team after the number of years that fans had to wait for it.

"Winning the Schenley in '85, that adds a little bit, too."

And despite his conflicts with Murphy, there were no lowlights.

"I tried to play every play as if it was my last," Jones said. "If there were 60 plays in the game, they were all there for me to make and I tried to relate that to my teammates. That creates camaraderie and that brings sportsmanship, and that brings championships."


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