Dad’s rambling career enriched the lives of Jones' kids
IT'S coming up on nine seasons and June Jones has never been anywhere this long. He's never been anywhere long. His stays have been so short he says, "Two years is the longest I've been somewhere." (When actually he was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons for three years -- but you get the idea -- it felt that way.)
And when he was an assistant he did it on purpose. He'd take one-year contracts. On purpose!
Most coaches -- always on the brink of being fired -- want security. Jones wanted options. He was a rambling, gambling man.
He -- and the run-and-shoot -- were always going to teams that needed quick fixes, in those days. And if they pulled it off he wanted to be able to renegotiate. Or move on to a better situation. He was always moving. He was all over the map.
"I lived in 18 cities in 15 years," he says.
"But I climbed the ladder very quickly."
It was crazy.
"I'm talking about these are full moves, furniture. Two times full moves in one year."
But of course, he loved it. "I loved it," Jones says. (See?)
OK, we know he's that kind of rambling, gambling guy. That's a coach's life. But what about his kids?
"Everybody used to say, 'What about your kids?' " Jones says.
"Let me tell you something, my kids have seen America. They read in the book the Alamo, they've seen the Alamo. Niagara Falls, they've been to Niagara Falls. We lived in Toronto. Everywhere, they can tell you about everything. And they have friends everywhere."
It does sound like a good experience, looking back. But here is the thing. The story is even better. They've seen America because he made them see America. They've been everywhere because he made them go everywhere. The Alamo? Civil War battlefields? Historical sites? They saw them all, piled into the car with Jones at the wheel playing tour guide.
Yes, it turns out that even Jones was one of those harried dads -- straight out of a Chevy Chase "Vacation" movie -- who insists everybody get in the car so he can drive them to some wholesome, educational, family fun. While they would rather be doing ... well, anything else. Just anything at all. The way kids always do.
"And they used to just be funny," Jones says, "because I'm a history kind of guy and I would drive them the place, like" -- he's doing the kids' voices now -- " 'No!'
"And I would tell them the story," Jones says. "And they would be like, 'Dad, we don't want to see that again!' "
That's hilarious. You can just imagine. But they appreciate it now, yeah?
"They appreciate it now," Jones says, "but at the time ...
"For years, every time we had a family (gathering), they were like, 'Remember Dad, when you went to the place down there where you said ... they burned the you know, or dah, dah, dah.'
" 'Remember when you made us sit there in the car and told that story ...' "
And as he tells this story, the rambling, gambling football coach is, for a moment, transported back to being that dad in a car, trying to impart wisdom over the din of his protesting kids. For just a split second, he closes his eyes and lets the warmth of the memory wash over him, and he laughs.
And he laughs.