Brian Jones has been around football his entire life. He’s always had a passion for the game and put in the work to turn it into a career, making it to the pinnacle as an NFL linebacker for the Colts and Saints.
Jones, who was All-Southwest Conference at the University of Texas, was drafted by the Raiders in 1991 and traded to the Colts, where he spent one season. He signed with the Saints in 1995 and remained in New Orleans for four years, but playing football wasn’t the only interest Jones had.
Since high school, he wanted to get into sports broadcasting. And just as he did on the field, he turned his love for talking about sports into a career.
Jones has been part of the team at CBS Sports since 2005 and is currently a college football analyst, appearing on both “College Football Today” and “Inside College Football.” He also hosts “Gio and Jones” with Gregg Giannotti on CBS Sports Radio, keeping busy just about every day of the week.
It all started during high school in Lubbock, Tx.
“It is something I’ve been doing since I was in high school,” Jones told OSDB Sports via phone. “We had a fledging TV station: Lubbock Independent School District TV – LISD TV, is what it was called. I was the first class to take part in that offering and it has grown by leaps and bounds since then. We’re talking a long, long time ago, 1985-86. I also interned at our local NBC affiliate, KCBD, in Lubbock, as well.
“It’s something that’s always been on the radar. It’s funny now when I interact with friends and guys I played with, they all said, We knew we were going this route the way you liked to talk,’ so I guess it was my calling.”
After retiring from the NFL, Jones went back to Texas to get his degree in Corporate Communications. His friend suggested that he audition for the sideline reporting job at the
university for its football games. The school had already committed to someone else, so Jones took on the role as the parabolic mic operator while he was getting his degree.
“It’s a little satellite dish, and that’s how you get your sound through your radio or television. That was my baby for a year,” he said. “I had to travel with that parabolic mic. Humbled the hell out of yourself.”
Jones also started a local radio show, and later on at Texas, he hosted Longhorns Sports Center with head coach Mack Brown.
Talking about sports is something Jones loves. Never the shy one in the locker room, Jones was always open and honest with the media when he was playing. That experience has helped him in his broadcasting career, allowing him to relate to current athletes when it comes to helping them open up and peeling back the layers.
“Apparently my big mouth was attractive,” Jones joked. “I think for me, it’s ‘what comes up, comes out.’ And if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. That’s how I approach everything. Just tell the truth and that was attractive to reporters and analysts during my playing days.
“More than once, I put my foot in my mouth. I’ll go back and look at some old quotes and think, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ People gravitated toward me because I would tell the truth and speak the King’s English. And during my playing days, I would have a lot of opportunities to interact with the press.
Though jones isn't the first former NFL player to get into broadcasting, he takes pride in the fact that he had to work to get to where he is. It was the same as when he was playing.
“It wasn’t handed to me. I had to go out and work my butt off,” he said. “I had to continue to get better at my craft. That’s something I always focus on year in and year out. You’re always learning.
“Starting at the bottom and now you’re here, that was my broadcasting career and same in sports, as well. You had to start somewhere learning the fundamentals and not just having it handed to me because I was some marquee name.
“Starting with that parabolic mic and now growing to where I sit at that desk, it’s been a beautiful journey.”
While talking about college football each and every week keeps Jones busy, that’s not all he does. He’s also trying to help current and former football players with their mental health.
Jones, along with former New York Giants and Jets running back Kenyon Rasheed, is an integral part of the team at PrimeMyBody. He and Rasheed are the Executive Directors of the sports division, showing the benefits that CBD can have mentally and physically.
He took an interest in that field when he was doing sports radio and TV and realized something was off.
“At the height of all this concussion talk in the NFL, I started realizing some things,” he said. “At that time, I was doing morning radio for CBS Sports and my TV work and my brain was just in a fog. I was stuttering and I couldn’t read on air. While we laughed and joked about it, it was a serious concern. I have a buddy who’s one of the top guys at PrimeMyBody. He shared some products with me, their Focus product, which is a non-psychoactive hemp oil, and I started taking that and realized very shortly after that I had more acuity, I was more lucid, I didn’t strain, I remembered things.”
From there, Jones and Rasheed approached PrimeMyBody CEO Paul Rogers and pitched the idea of using a bottom-up strategy by doing a study on former NFL players with the company’s Focus product.
“How about we do a scientific study, bottom-up approach where we go out and test former NFL players? Jones said. “Paul bought into that strategy and we launched a campaign with the NFL Alumni Association chapter in Dallas and conducted a study with 50-plus NFL players around this Focus product.
“One, it had worked for me. And two, it felt like a great business opportunity to not only prove that this product works, but to give hope and other options to our NFL brethren because they’re dealing with a myriad of things going on. While we love the game and we would all do it again, there are some residual effects from playing such a violent sport.”
Jones and Rasheed helped former NFL players who were struggling with their mental health.
“Sitting in the rooms with these guys and listening to their stories. We went in there with one idea, and we were going to have a campaign with brain mapping and testing their brains and how they react going through the test and give them a drop of Focus and re-test, and it turned into a therapy session,” he said. “It was unbelievable. We were sitting in there almost in tears listening to these guys because we’re part of the brotherhood and they were looking for an outlet to share what was going on in their lives.
“Some guys were in a fight-or-flight scenario and we had to talk them off the edge. … It was very therapeutic and cathartic for all of us that were involved. It wasn’t about moving products. It was about hopefully offering an option that wasn’t of the pharmaceutical variety for these men.”
Among those who took part in the study were Hall of Famer Willie Roaf and former NFL cornerback Lorenzo Lynch. Jones and Rasheed don’t want to stop there. They’re in discussion with the NFL Alumni Association to do a more robust study with all of their chapters, with the goal of identifying and showcasing the benefits of CBD. In the first study, the testing showed a 70-80% improvement from those who used Focus.
There has been some pushback about the use of CBD in professional sports, especially in the NFL, which is an obstacle Jones and PrimeMyBody must overcome.
“It’s about an educational process, like anything, where if you’re not up on it, you’re down on it,” he said.
Jones admits mental health wasn’t anything he was interested in and it wasn’t on his radar during his playing days because he played in an era when you shook off head injuries and stayed on the field. Now, concussions are taken much more seriously by the NFL and Jones wants to help those who may have suffered serious brain injuries during their time on the field.
“The stigmas are being removed from those particular issues. We have high-profile athletes who are discussing these topics, as they should, and I think it’s going to help a lot of us. Let’s have that discussion. You’re not alone. There are people who are willing to assist and provide you an ear or shoulder to lean on.”
Jones and Rasheed have been friends and business partners since 2003. They formed Pro Club World Sports together, a sports business development and marketing company. They’re in the gaming and betting industry, developing the BetUS Unfiltered podcast with Warren Sapp and Gary Payton.
As sports technology consultants, they work with athletes across all sports to find ways to market themselves and “put money in their pockets,” as Jones put it. Jones and Rasheed are the heads of business development strategy for FanReach, which developed the first app for an NFL team – a list that has since grown to 10 teams.
And a big next step for the two former players is they will build the platform for the NFL Alumni Association’s app through FanReach.
So while Jones keeps busy with his day-to-day job at CBS Sports as a broadcaster, he has his hand in a lot of different buckets, all with the goal of helping current and former players.