There is a picture floating around on the internet of shirtless quarterback Mac Jones smoking a cigar after Alabama’s 2020 victory against Tennessee.
Y’all know the one.
Major dad-bod vibes. Like Jones just seeded the neighborhood football field twice over and he’s feeling good about the next project, but before he paints the goalposts for the kids it’s time for a cold one or two.
Gather’round, y’all, lemme tell ya about the time I threw five touchdowns in the Iron Bowl with Nick Saban watching on TV.
Mac Jones in this picture looks like what Peyton Manning does a pretty good job of trying to be in all the commercials he’s ever done, but just can’t quite fake it enough to pull off the real thing. Tennessee can’t even claim the king of the dorks anymore.
At first blush, Jones’ post-Tennessee locker room stogie picture is not the image people might have in their mind’s eye of the perfect physique for an NFL quarterback. Jones isn’t overweight by any means. He’s just a couple pancakes past happy.
This isn’t about body shaming, so let’s not get it twisted. It’s quite the opposite, actually, because Jones, the forever overlooked quarterback at Alabama, was drafted by Bill Belichick on Thursday in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft to play the position previously anchored by Tom Brady.
Now look at that picture again. What do you see? I know what that picture tells me in hindsight. Among other things, it’s the portrait of someone completely comfortable in their own skin. Is there any greater intangible quality for a quarterback to possess? Maybe spidey senses in the pocket, but that’s it.
We’re not going to write here that Mac Jones, selected at No.15 overall, is the quarterback Belichick drafted to replace Brady because there is no replacing a guy who won six Super Bowls for Belichick’s New England Patriots. Brady then won another this year for the Tampa Bay Bucs at the age of 43 (or 103 in football years).
Nah, Mac Jones isn’t the next Tom Brady. What most certainly must be true, though, is that if anyone has the natural disposition to step into the New England locker room and not care one ounce of Log Cabin maple syrup about being compared to Brady or Tua Tagovailoa (now a division rival) or anyone, then it’s Jones. He fits the psychological profile of not giving one flip about what anyone else thinks except his coach.
Jones showed up to Alabama skinnier than a gluten-free spaghetti noodle, and they told him to drink every protein shake and eat all the food and gain as much weight for his frame as possible. How he compared physically to his teammates in the quarterback room did not matter one bit, they told him, and so Jones put on pounds exactly as directed. And then he waited, and waited some more.
Jones waited his turn for the better part of four years, and then set an Alabama record for passing yards in a season in his fifth (4,500). He had 41 touchdown passes to four interceptions in 13 games and they were all against opponents in the SEC and then Notre Dame and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff. He was never hurt. He ran for — checks notes — 14 yards in 2020.
Belichick asked his buddy Nick Saban if Jones was really the one, and Saban said yes. What more is there to say?
Other than this, of course. Just how in the world did this even happen? It’s like the super villain in the Marvel comic book winning everything with Clark Kent, and then drafting an even nicer superhero in disguise for the next chapter.
Brady is married to a famous supermodel, and Jones actually was a child model growing up in Jacksonville, Florida. He was really good at it, too. When the time came for Jones to pick the ridiculous life of a child actor, or stay in full-time school and play football, Jones picked ball and never looked back. He bet on himself by going to Alabama, and then he doubled down by staying.