Story and video by Hector Molina
From quality turf fields and bright lights to a field that’s mostly dirt and needs car headlights for illumination, Tebucky Jones has seen it all when it comes to the gridiron. For a Super Bowl champion who’s used to crowds of 70,000 at Gillette Stadium, the old rusty benches at Hungerford Park in Berlin, CT are a huge change of scenery.
A former NFL safety, who played seven years in the league with three different teams, Jones could have coached anywhere at any level, but decided to come back to coach at his alma matter, New Britain High School.
The 6’2 218 lb. safety grew up in New Britain during a time when gang violence and drug use was at an all-time high.
His mother sold cocaine and other drugs in order to put food on the table.
As a child, Jones bounced from house to house and had to steal doughnuts from the neighboring 7-Eleven since it wasn’t guaranteed he’d have three meals a day.
Today, driving a white Range Rover and owning a mansion with a kitchen as big as the whole first floor of a normal house, Jones has come a long way since his childhood days.
A difficult life made him into the person that he is today, a man who gives so much back to a place where he had so little.
Jones said the challenge of coaching at the high school level prompted him to coach at his alma matter.
He is full of sage advice, based on his own college and NFL playing days. For example, he tells his defensive backs that they can tell what route a receiver is going to run within the first five yards off the line of scrimmage by looking at the receiver’s hips.
Jones calls those 5-yards off the line of scrimmage the drop zone. “Belichick taught me that one,” he says.
These days Jones puts children in the community first, as every summer he holds the Tebucky Jones Youth Football Camp where he shows young players the proper techniques of the game as well as teaching them how to conduct themselves off the field.
Jones once struggled with balancing football and family. At 15, he became a father and had three kids by the age of 19.
Many of his “boys” from the hood told him he should drop his family and focus on football. Jones admits that there was a short period of time when he listened to them because he didn’t know any better.
He had grown up the son of a father who he never saw. It wasn’t till the 15-year old Jones held his first-born 4-week old daughter, Letesha, that he realized he won’t ever leave his family. Once Letesha threw up on her dad’s shirt, he knew his kids meant the world to him.
He was born with God given talent, an All-State athlete in three sports (football, basketball, and track), but what made him different from the other talented guys he played with in the rough neighborhoods and parks of New Britain, is that Tebucky Jones had a plan to live a better life.
An avid horse racing fan who enjoys betting at the casino while enjoying a nice cigar, Jones referred to himself growing up as a “horse with blinders on.” He always focused on what was in front of him and where he wanted to end up. He always made sure to tune out people who could mess with his dream.
With all the success, Jones has remained humble, and that’s what he preaches to his New Britain High School football team.
Lyndon Chambers, a senior linebacker, said having Jones as a coach has helped shape him into a better person.
“He teaches us to always be humble, to always let your actions speak rather than our mouths. He tells us to conduct ourselves as responsible young men, and to always stay on track and don’t let anything get in the way of your focus,” Chambers said.
Jones also wanted a better life for his own kids. He didn’t want them to grow up not knowing where their next meal was going to come from, nor having to stay warm by sticking a lit match in a mayonnaise jar as he was forced to do.
However, there came a point where Jones thought his kids had it too good.
“Whatever system came out they got, Sega, Playstation, Xbox, you name it, they had it,” Jones said, adding his kids were becoming soft and too privileged. He described his kids as “pudding pops — soft and too sweet.” he said. “I had to bring them down to earth a little.”
Even though the family was living in a 14,000 square foot mansion in Farmington. Jones brought them down to the same Boys and Girls Club he went to as a kid growing up in New Britain.
Jones said he wanted his kids see both sides of life and to have friends from all different walks of life.
His son Tebucky Jones Jr., who played college football at UConn before transferring to Fordham for his last two years, had a brief stint on the Tennessee Titans practice squad and is currently an NFL free agent looking for a team.
Jones said his oldest son benefited from the Boys and Girls Club the most out of all his kids.
Tebucky Jr. said by the time he was 13 he was already 5’10. His size led many people to think he was this tough kid but, in reality, he was the complete opposite. Jones Jr. said he wore sweater vests and would get made fun of when he first started going to the Boys and Girls Club.
Jones Jr. also talked about growing up not having his dad in the bleachers during his Pop Warner games, an experience that made him desire to coach high school rather than the pros even though he had plenty of NFL defensive coaching offers. Jones returned to New Britain as an assistant coach to coach his son Tebucky Jr. during his son’s junior and senior year at New Britain High School.
Even though he was drafted by the pros out of Syracuse University, and went on to win a Super Bowl, own a mansion and drive nice cars, Jones says he doesn’t let any of that define him. The New England Patriots 2001 Super Bowl XXXVI champ never wears his ring, seeing it as just one part of his life.
“When I got drafted, I could see everyone, family and friends, really happy, excited, making a big deal out of, but it wasn’t about the fame for me,” Jones said. He says it was all about his love for football and how it provided him a way out of the slums of New Britain.
Even though Jones has spent a lot of time around the sport, he says he is trying to show his players that there is more to life than just football.
“I’m trying to show them it’s not all about playing football in college and stuff like that, it’s great if you can, but it’s more about going to school and trying to further your education and try to make things better for your family.”