By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
Jaydon Mickens woke up on Monday morning February 8th a Super Bowl Champion. He has reached a goal that all pro football players want. The Dorsey High grad has played the game in front of some 100 million viewer’s worldwide.
He returned the opening kick-off 23 yards to set the tone of the game. In all he had three kick-off returns for 75-yards on the day giving him a 25-yard average in helping underdog Tampa Bay to a 31-9 win over the favored Kansas City.
“It (special teams) is the most important and scariest roll on the field to some people,” Mickens said at a video conference. “On some kicks that ball is up higher than the stadium rafters and that ball has to be caught. You can change the dynamics of the game with a good run back, and if the kicker is trying to kick it away from you he could shank it, I love it.”
It’s the way he got to the game that showed what type of person he is. He has a drive and a perseverance.
When he landed with the Bucs he found a whole new culture. “This organization has savvy mind set of getting good people, not just great players but good people. I might be throwing with Griff (Ryan Griffin), I might be throwing with Blaine (Blaine Gabbert), I might be throwing with Tom. I threw with Tom all camp long he wants me to be game ready.”
Brady would stop an entire drill to come show Jaydon a better way to run a route. He would come over a show him how to get an edge.
“Everyone helps everyone else out, it truly a family atmosphere.” The former Washington Huskie was an undrafted free agent who caught the eye of former Trojan Jack Del Rio. He was signed by the Raiders in 2016. In 2017-2018 He played in Jacksonville before landing with the Bucs in 2019. He was released then picked up again by the Bucs. He is a wide receiver but when injuries happened, that led him to became the main kick returner.
When in Jacksonville he stayed in his car. Realizing things could change quickly rationalized the move. “People don’t understand this is a temporary job we only get paid six months out of the year. I tried to save every penny I could. If I could save 30 or 40 thousand dollars. I’m only 26 years old It would be good instead of getting caught in a lease.”
With a little stability in signing with the Bucs his life he has put together a dog business, breading French Bulldogs. He also has real estate investments happening. “I’m thinking about life after this game.
Former USC running back Ronald Jones also got his run in the game. He finished with 12 carries for 61 yards. The Fort Stewart, Georgia native was stopped on a key fourth and goal during the first half. He shared the running duties along with Lenard Fournette who ran for 89 yards on 16 carries including a 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
This past season Jones rushed for 978 yards on 192 carries (5.1 avg.) and 7 touchdowns.
Drafted in the 2nd round in 2018 he and Fournette both helped the Bucs lead the Chiefs in time of possession 31:23 minutes to 28:37 as they combined for 150 yards on the ground. They helped set-up play action passes. On one series in the second period Jones ran for seven yards, then eight on consecutive plays. Brady next faked to Jones hit Mike Evans on a 31 yards pass.
Jones finished his college career with 3,619 rushing yards good enough for fifth place all time on the Trojan list.
The both of them did their part to help the team and become world champions. It appears that’s what Mickens had in mind:
“This whole journey and getting to the Super Bowl this is what it’s supposed to be.”