Arena Touchdown Machine Gets a Crack at the NFL
Wide receiver Anthony “Tiger” Jones on vying for a roster spot for the Philadelphia Eagles—and on never giving up on his dream.
Sacrificing a Possible Championship
Jones left the Soul near the end of a great season, one in which the team was 13-3 and playoff-bound with two games left when the Eagles signed him. But despite Jones’ amazing season, the Soul nearly completed their championship season in his absence, winning their final two regular season games and two playoff games before falling short against the Arizona Rattlers in the Arena Bowl, losing 72-54 on August 10th. Soul Head Coach Doug Plank praised Jones’ individual efforts and contributions to the team, crediting him for his influence on his teammates.
“A lot of times, players on teams can learn from other players,” he says. “There’s no question in my mind that our receiving corps has benefited from just having Tiger at practice and watching him in games just to see how efficient he is in terms of making catches, picking up yards after the catch, and just how he conducts himself as a professional athlete.”
Jones added that the Soul fully supports him in his run with the Eagles, since it’s good for any AFL player to see another seize a chance to move up. Jones called his opportunity a bit of a ‘catch-22,’ since he didn’t want to abandon the Soul and their championship aspirations, but it still wasn’t a tough decision.
“You get opportunities like this, you can’t pass it up,” he says. “And [my teammates], they want me to come and do my thing over here and possibly open doors for more guys like me.”
Living the Dream
So it’s definitely a tough road ahead for Jones, who, Plank mentions, just doesn’t have as much invested in him as some of the Eagles’ early-round draft picks and other younger players. Regardless, he’s making his way through the camp and got some touches last week during the Eagles’ preseason opener (2 catches for 10 yards). His perseverance and dedication to get where he is have been remarkable.
“I’m just competitive. I love the game of football, and you know, I’ve always believed in myself and my abilities,” he says. “You’re not always gonna be able to run around at a high level and play football or play any sport. If you have ability, you want to do it for as long as you can, because you don’t want to be that guy working on Monday morning and looking forward to Friday so you can have a couple days off from work. You want to be doing something you love for as long as you can do it.”