Atlanta Falcons superstar WR Julio Jones keeps a low profile
HOUSTON– When he’s on the field, Julio Jones is electric, and at times unstoppable. Atlanta Falcons fans and fantasy football diehards knew this about the talented wide receiver already.
But though he’s a superstar in the highest-octane offense in the NFL, what you get off the field is a man who is low-key and soft-spoken.
“That’s just him, period,” Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems told CNN. “During the games, (he’s) calm, laid back, doesn’t get too excited. That’s just who he is. You can’t change that about him, which is a good thing.”
Jones, who turns 28 on Friday, is the only receiver in the NFL averaging 100 yards per game this season. He’s the only player in NFL history to have two postseason games with at least 180 receiving yards and two touchdown catches. And he finished second in the NFL with 1,409 receiving yards in 2016.
Jones, who is a matchup nightmare, is a huge reason why the Falcons are in their second Super Bowl in franchise history. And the Alabama native is keeping the outlook simple.
“I’m just looking forward toward the game,” Jones recently told reporters.”I don’t care about what’s going on around the Super Bowl. My job is to prepare to get ready for this game.”
On his fishing hobby: ‘My thing is to get away’
Jones averages 96.3 yards per game for his career, which is first on the NFL’s list of all-time career receiving yards per game.
That’s better than other well known receivers like Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who recently apologized for posting a Facebook Live video in the Steelers locker room after a postseason game. Or the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., who had to answer questions about his boat trip to Miami after a playoff loss to the Packers.
Those receivers bask in the limelight. Jones is the opposite, though he could be found on a boat for a different reason. He likes to fish in his down time.
“That’s who he is,” said Weems. “He’s from the country, from ‘Bama. You’ve got to expect that.”
Jones said this week that one of his best catches came away from the football field, when he reeled in a sailfish in South Carolina two years ago.
“I just want to get away,” Jones said. “My thing is to get away. You’re always going to have something to detach and for me, I just go and don’t think. Just fish and enjoy myself.”
‘Don’t go out your way to have a lot of distractions’
Those in football circles, particularly in the South, have known about Jones for quite some time. He was a five-star recruit coming out of the city of Foley, which is southeast of Mobile and has less than 15,000 people.
Jones elected to play college ball at the University of Alabama under head coach Nick Saban. As someone highly recruited, it would have been easy for him to feel like he had a star role immediately.
“But coach Saban, he made me work for everything,” Jones said. “That’s why I respect him, because he didn’t give me, ‘Oh you’re going to start at receiver.’ I had to work my way up the chart.”
Jones said his experience at Alabama helped him learn “how to handle success.”
“You can’t have the moment bigger than you or your teammates in what you’re trying to accomplish,” Jones said. “Continue to do the things that got you there. Don’t do anything extra and don’t go out your way to have a lot of distractions.”
Jones won a national championship with the Crimson Tide in the 2009 season, his sophomore year. He turned pro after his junior season, and the Falcons took a gamble and traded up to pick him sixth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.
It looks like now that trade paid off, but that doesn’t mean there’s added pressure on him to lead Atlanta.
“Not at all,” Jones said. “I’m highly prepared for this. There’s no added pressure on me because I don’t have to go out here and do it by myself. I’ve got my brothers to do it with me.”
There was another Alabama question raised this week. At Super Bowl Opening Night, Jones was asked if he would wear gear of college rival Auburn for a week if it meant the Falcons would win the Super Bowl.
“No, I will not, but that’s not the case,” Jones said. “For a victory on Sunday, we just have to put the work in, preparation. We have to stick to what we know.”