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Happy Thanksgiving - NY Jets News 11.22

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Kellen Clemens November 22, 2007 -- IRVING, Texas - If the Jets can simulate the entire game as a two-minute drill when they're on offense today, they might have a chance to outscore the potent Cowboys offense.

That's because Kellen Clemens has been at his best when facing pressure situations. For example, he led the Jets on to a field goal at the end of the first half Sunday, and then engineered the game-tying drive at the end of regulation - culminating in another Mike Nugent kick - to help beat the Steelers.

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Jets see chance to boost image

Thursday, November 22, 2007



You certainly could call it a disrespect. Or maybe just file it away with all the other instances of T.O. merely being T.O.

When he was asked on a conference call Tuesday for his thoughts on Jets rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis, controversial Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens said: "I don't know who that is. Once I step on the field, it doesn't matter who's out there."

Owens added, "That's not a slight on him or whoever he is."


But actually, in his inimitable way, Owens inadvertently shined a light on one of today's most intriguing story lines. By the end of today's nationally televised game, will the country know who these guys in green and white are? And if they do, what will the overriding opinion be?

Will the casual fans see the Jets as a 2006 flash in the pan who couldn't keep their momentum going, and thus don't deserve to play on such a special occasion? Or will they see them as the Jets see themselves -- a team that never should have been 2-8?



Jets at Cowboys


4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Radio: ESPN-AM 1050,


Line: Dallas by 14

Certainly their 19-16 upset overtime victory over Pittsburgh has boosted the Jets' confidence.

As running back Thomas Jones said, "It's another opportunity for us to go out and play well against a good team and try to showcase our talents and our abilities in front of the country."

Linebacker David Bowens played in three Thanksgiving games while with Miami.

"What bigger stage is there other than the Super Bowl and playoffs?" Bowens asked rhetorically. "You're on TV and everyone's family is around. I'm sure somebody's drunk uncle will be somewhere, cursing me out."

Yet Bowens admitted that it would be nice to show the country something memorable and something positive.

"If someone's grandma is sitting around watching it because all of the guys are," Bowens said, "I don't think she would look at our team and say we're a 2-8 team. Our confidence has picked up. Our pride has picked up. Last game [against Pittsburgh] we played a lot more physical and made a lot more tackles. We didn't have many mental errors. It has to be the same" against Dallas (9-1).

True, and one of the players the Jets can least afford to make a mental mistake against is Owens, whose actions speak for themselves this season. He is second in the NFL in receiving yards and touchdown catches, behind only Randy Moss of New England, another mild-mannered fellow.

"He definitely puts a lot of pressure on defenses," Jets cornerback Hank Poteat said of T.O.

"It's always big when you have an opportunity to play against a great receiver like Terrell Owens. [but] you should approach each week as if you want to raise your game to the next level because whenever you get the opportunity, you want to be able to make a play for your team," he said.

So even though they know this is probably the brightest spotlight they will have in a mostly dim and depressing season, the Jets are trying to treat it as -- all together now -- just another game.

"It's pretty cool to be playing in it," quarterback Kellen Clemens said. "The national audience is awesome, but our focus is on us and preparing to win this game."

INJURY NOTES: Wide receiver Laveranues Coles, who suffered a left ankle injury against Pittsburgh in Sunday's win, was limited in practice Wednesday and is listed as questionable.

Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton (ankle) is listed as questionable.

E-mail: pelzman@northjersey.com

* * *

Jets (2-8) vs. Cowboys (9-1)

Texas Stadium, today, 4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2. Radio: WEPN-AM 1050, WABC-AM 770. Line: Cowboys by 14

What's at stake

Jets: They are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season after breaking their six-game losing streak. It's also an opportunity to play before a national TV audience for probably the only time this season. Their scheduled Sunday night finale against Kansas City will likely be "flexed" to a day game by the NFL.

Cowboys: Dallas is trying to extend a four-game winning streak and maintain at least a two-game lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys are battling with Green Bay (9-1) for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Key matchups

Cowboys WR Terrell Owens vs. Jets CB Darrelle Revis: This is why the Jets traded up 11 spots in the first round to select Revis, so that he could cover standout receivers such as Owens. T.O. is 13th in the NFL in receptions with 58, second in receiving yards with 1,028 and second in touchdown catches with 12.

Jets RB Thomas Jones vs. Cowboys' front seven: Jones had his third 100-yard rushing game of the season versus Pittsburgh, gaining 117 yards on 30 carries. The Jets need to maintain that commitment to the running game. An effective ground game would be a major help as it would shorten the game and give the Cowboys' potent offense fewer possessions to wreak havoc.

How they'll win

Jets: The coaching staff puts together another excellent game plan, much like the one it concocted for the Steelers. Kellen Clemens again is cool under pressure, as he was against Pittsburgh, and Jones has another good performance. The defense is able to contain T.O. and QB Tony Romo, and has another good performance against the rush, just as it did against the Steelers.

Cowboys: Romo, who has 27 TD passes and only 12 interceptions, continues his fine season, and the inside-outside running back tandem of Marion Barber and Julius Jones exploits the Jets' often porous rush defense. The defense adds to its total of 27 sacks and pressures Clemens into mistakes, while shutting down Julius Jones' older brother, Thomas.

-- J.P. Pelzman

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IRVING, Tex. - A year ago, a new star was born in the Lone Star State. A nobody named Tony Romo, in his fifth NFL start, threw five touchdown passes on Thanksgiving, becoming a flat-screen phenom in living rooms across America. In this case, Romo was built in a day.

There's no bigger regular-season showcase than a game on Thanksgiving, and today Kellen Clemens will have his first chance to go from the Jets' little secret to a national quarterback.

Fittingly, Clemens will oppose Romo's Cowboys at Texas Stadium, where his familiar last name will create more buzz than his skimpy resume. Many of those in attendance probably will wonder if he's kin to Roger Clemens, one of the state's favorite sons.

No, he's not, but Kellen also has a pretty fair fastball and a gunslinger mentality, especially when his team needs a score and time is running out. Kellen Comeback saves his best for last, a trait that is winning over his teammates.

"He has that 'whatever-it-is' you need to have," tight end Chris Baker said.

The Cowboys said the same thing about Romo, whose statistics after 20starts are better than the early career numbers posted by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Now Romo has a new contract with $30 million guaranteed and an ever-expanding black book of celebrity girlfriends. Life is good. Life is different for Clemens. He likes country music, but unlike Romo, he doesn't date country-music stars. Clemens, who married in college, is a homebody.

Romo works at a ranch (Valley Ranch, the Cowboys' complex); Clemens lives on a ranch, a 3,500-acre expanse in Oregon.

Romo is one of the hottest stars in the NFL, the league's third-rated passer on a 9-1 team. Clemens is just getting started.

Clemens, who has made three starts, is 1-1 since replacing Chad Pennington, already displaying a knack for delivering in the clutch.

"I think the most impressive thing about him is the two-minute," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "That shows a guy can play in the league if he can handle a team in that realm.He's a good-looking young quarterback."

Clemens led late fourth-quarter rallies in the last two games, hurry-up drives that resulted in overtime-forcing field goals. The Jets wound up falling to the Redskins (a Jerricho Cotchery drop in OT was costly), but they snapped a six-game losing streak last Sunday with a 65-minute stunner against the Steelers.

In Week 2, Clemens, subbing for the injured Pennington, came agonizingly close to a game-tying touchdown in Baltimore. But his storybook finish was undermined by Justin McCareins, who had two drops on the ill-fated final drive.

Take away the drops, and Clemens could be 3-0.

"You think about it, and he shouldn't be as good as he is," said McCareins, alluding to Clemens' inexperience. "But he's very talented, physically. Mentally, he's cool under pressure."

Clemens said he wants to be "known as a guy who gives his team a chance to win," and he has done that. He has stretched defenses with his arm strength and he has made plays outside the pocket, a Romo-esque quality. He also has protected the ball, with only three turnovers in three starts - not bad for a neophyte against three top-11 defenses.

But Clemens also is somewhat of an enigma, inconsistent for long stretches. His fourth-quarter passer rating, which you'd expect to be through the roof, is only 47.5. He has led the offense to only three touchdowns in his starts and his 50% completion mark is alarming.

"There are some throws he could slow down a bit," Eric Mangini said of Clemens' penchant for over-throwing. Clemens will be hard-pressed to beat Romo in a shootout, especially without wide receiver Laveranues Coles (ankle). But give him two minutes and a chance, and you never know.

"If someone's grandma is sitting around, watching on TV, I don't think she would look at our team and say we're a 2-8 team," linebacker David Bowens said. "Our confidence has picked up. Our pride has picked up."

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Playbook: Jets vs. Cowboys



THE LINE: Cowboys by 14

TV: Ch. 2 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)

RADIO: WEPN 1050-AM, WABC 770-AM (Bob Wischusen, Marty Lyons). In Spanish on 1280 WADO-AM (C.L. Smith Muniz, Roberto Abramowitz)

FORECAST: Cloudy, breezy, cool, high in upper 40s.


WR/PR Patrick Crayton will probably miss the game with a sprained ankle, leaving Tony Romo without his second-best wiedout. Sam Hurd would start at flanker Terence Newman would return punts. Kellen Clemens will be at a similar disadvantage with WR Laveranues Coles likely out with an ankle injury. S Erik Smith (concussion) and DT Dwayne Robertson (knee) were limited in practice.


WR Terrell Owens vs. CB Darrelle Revis and Jets secondary: T.O. says he's playing "out of my mind." Owens has been a big-play machine lately, beating zone and man approaches with equal ease as he and Romo take advantage of every matchup opportunity. Hard to jam, he'll probably get a big cushion from Revis, who must make sure he wraps him up after the catch. Revis will get safety help but that brings TE Jason Witten into the mix.

LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson vs. OLB DeMarcus Ware: With Ware and Greg Ellis coming off the edge, the Cowboys' 3-4 really gets after the quarterback. Ware plays the Shawne Merriman role for Wade Phillips as he's often moved around to find mismatches. Ferguson has been effective using his quick feet and reach to force pass rushers wide but Ware has an exceptional inside rush with a spin move that could cause Ferguson problems.


"The Jets have a short week but at least they'll face a quarterback who presents similar problems as Ben Roethlisberger. Tony Romo is deadly out of the pocket so he'll probably see the same blitzing defenses that worked against Big Ben. The Cowboys' huge offensive line will have a distinct advantage against a smallish front. They'll run to bring (S) Kerry Rhodes into the box, looking for one-on-one matchups with T.O. Witten will also be a factor since he will not be shackled in max protection. The Jets' return game should set them up in good field position, if not produce some big plays."


Eric Mangini did great with two weeks to prepare for the Steelers. Now he's had a few short days to get ready for an even bigger challenge in Dallas. The Cowboys, of course, are used to this since they do it every year, even if the coaching staff is new. And it didn't seem to bother Romo last year when he threw for 306 yards and five Turkey Day TDs against the Bucs. We'll have to see whether the Cowboys suffer a letdown after tough divisional wins over the Giants and the Redskins. We learned Sunday the Jets don't plan to roll over and play dead.


The Jets don't match up with this offense. Too talented downfield and too poised at QB. COWBOYS 35-14

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Family reunion bittersweet for Jones brothers



(Original publication: November 22, 2007)

IRVING, Texas - Only once in his eight-year NFL career has Thomas Jones stood on the sideline whenever his team didn't have the ball just so he could watch the opposing running back.

It was Thanksgiving 2004 and the ball carrier was his kid brother, Julius.

"I remember walking up to the line of scrimmage, looking over to their sideline and I see him looking at me. I gave him a little head nod," Julius said, smiling. "It's little things like that that mean a lot to us."

The Jones brothers of Big Stone Gap, Va., have gone from spending their childhood Thanksgivings pretending to be NFL players like Joe and Jamie Morris to providing the same inspiration to thousands of football-loving siblings growing up in the 2000s. In case anyone missed it a few years ago, the league has arranged for it to happen again this afternoon.

Julius and the Dallas Cowboys will host Thomas and his latest team, the Jets. With Dallas 9-1 and the Jets 2-8, expect the television coverage to be heavy on the Jones family angle.

There will be plenty of shots of their parents, Thomas and Betty, along with their five sisters and several other relatives in the stands. They'll be easy to spot - all will be wearing jerseys featuring both teams' logos on the front, split by a football bearing the words "Thanksgiving Day 2007"; the back has J. Jones and T. Jones and their numbers.

"They went all out this time," Thomas said. "Last time, they split 'em up. Half wore my jersey and half wore his jersey."

Thomas made sure two extras were made, one each for him and Julius. Those will be framed and hung on the walls of their homes.

"It is just a special time and a special occasion," he said.

The relatives began arriving in Dallas last week. Thomas was to be the final one in town, flying in with his teammates yesterday. Julius was going to pick up Thomas at the team hotel and bring him back to his house for a family Thanksgiving one night early. It will be the largest gathering for the family since ... the last time the brothers squared off on Thanksgiving.

"It's kind of bittersweet," Thomas said. "You get to my brother's house and get into a comfort zone with all your family members, then it's time to go and you realize you're down there for a business trip."

Dallas won the initial Jones Bros. Bowl, with Julius rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns in only the third game of his career. Three years later, it remains one of his most productive days.

Julius hasn't lived up to expectations built by his rookie year, when he gained 819 yards in eight games. This is his second straight season practically splitting carries with Marion Barber and likely the last; Julius is headed into free agency.

Since Dallas spent its top pick on him in 2004, Julius' carries have dropped each year, from almost 25 per game as a rookie to just over 11 per game this season. He's coming off a 27-yard outing.

But it's not like he can really complain. The Cowboys lead their division, are tied for the best record in the NFC and boast the conference's best offense, second best in the NFL.

"Obviously I'd love to have the ball," Julius said. "Whatever opportunities I get, whether it's eight or 28, I've got to make the most out of them and that's what I'm trying to do."

Luckily, he has someone who understands his plight that he can confide in: his brother.

Thomas Jones was a backup the first four years of his career, in Arizona then Tampa Bay. Chicago made him the main man in 2004, then spent a first-round pick on Cedric Benson the following year. Although Thomas started in '05 and '06, topping 1,200 yards each season and helping the Bears reach the Super Bowl this past February, he was traded to the Jets a month later.

The season hasn't turned out as hoped, with the Jets losing six straight games before finally winning again Sunday. Thomas played a big role in that victory over Pittsburgh, becoming the first runner in 35 games to crack 100 yards against the Steelers. He had 117, his third 100-yard outing of the year.

Thomas is almost exactly three years older than Julius, and they've always been close.

As kids, they shared bunk beds and NFL dreams. They still get together every offseason.

"We still play video games ... play pool, all those things that brothers typically do," Thomas said.

Today though, they'll do something few other sets of brothers have done before, watching each other take snaps between their own turns in the backfield.

"It is a weird feeling," Thomas said, "but it is fun and something that I will always remember."

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Jets' Clemens has knack for leading late drives

BY TOM ROCK | tom.rock@newsday.com

November 22, 2007

Kellen Clemens is quickly building a reputation as a crunch-time quarterback. That his overall performance has been rather nondescript seems overshadowed by his ability to move the Jets when the clock is bearing down on him like a blitzing linebacker.

"Uncanny" is how tight end Chris Baker described the ability.

In three starts, Clemens has had to engineer three late drives with the aim of tying or winning the game. If the Jets can keep today's game against the Cowboys close to the end - and a turkey-bloated national audience likely will be rooting for a competitive game - Clemens could have a chance to earn more comeback stripes.

Against the Ravens in Week 2, Clemens nearly tied it but was betrayed by two dropped passes. In his first start replacing a healthy Chad Pennington in Week 9 against the Redskins, he drove the Jets to the tying field goal at the end of regulation and nearly put them in field-goal range in overtime (another drop undercut him). On Sunday he went 76 yards against the NFL's top defense to set up the tying field goal at the end of regulation (a potential winning pass was - what else? - dropped in the end zone) and finally got his first win.

"I've thought about that and I don't really know," Clemens said of his ability to excel under pressure. "I don't think there's anything that I'm doing."

Clemens' stats are pedestrian. In three starts and two relief appearances, he has three touchdowns and five interceptions. His completion percentage is right at 50, 66-for-132. He's thrown for 750 yards, or 11.4 yards per completion. Clemens is supposed to have the rocket arm, but before he was benched, Pennington was averaging 10.3.

What Clemens has been able to do that Pennington was not is hang onto the football. Since becoming the full-time starter he's had only two TD passes but only one interception. Eric Mangini said he'd rather have Clemens throw passes away than force them into dangerous spots.

Clemens had several fourth-quarter chances to help the Jets in the comeback win over the Steelers (if you can call a game in which the Jets led 10-0 a comeback). The Jets turned the ball over on downs twice and Clemens threw a pick. But when the Jets got the ball at their 14 with 2:23 left, Clemens took over.

He was 5-for-9 on a drive that included the dropped pass by Brad Smith in the end zone and a spike. He also picked up a pass-interference penalty on the Steelers and scrambled for 15 yards. Clemens threw for 58 yards on that drive; besides his 56-yarder to Laveranues Coles on a flea-flicker on the game's second play, he'd thrown for 48 the rest of the game.

"I think the most impressive part is the two-minute [situations]," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said of Clemens. "That shows a guy can play in the league if he can handle a team in that realm."

Notes & quotes: Coles (sprained left ankle, questionable) had partial participation in yesterday's practice before the team flew to Texas. It's still unlikely he'll be available ... NT Dewayne Robertson (knee) and S Eric Smith (concussion) also are listed as questionable.

NEWSDAY.COM/SPORTSThe place to go for all of your NFL gameday needs


DeMarcus Ware, LB

In only his second season, Ware set a Cowboys record for sacks by a linebacker with 11.5 in 2006. It was also the first time a Cowboy reached double digits in sacks since Tony Tolbert had 12 in 1996. After a trip to the Pro Bowl last February, Ware is looking to break his own marks and already has nine this year. Only Mike Vrabel of New England has more sacks as a linebacker this season. After being shut out the first two games, Ware has at least one sack in seven of the last eight games, 16 unofficial quarterback pressures, and four other tackles for losses.


Jets 22, Cowboys 21

Dec. 19, 1999

After trailing 21-13, the Jets won on John Hall's 37-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining. Curtis Martin ran for 113 yards and Wayne Chrebet had eight receptions for 108 yards. Ray Lucas had two touchdown passes and threw for 229 yards for the Jets while Troy Aikman threw two interceptions. And yet Aikman somehow found his way to Canton ahead of Lucas. It was the only Jets win in their two trips to Dallas and the second of four wins in a row to end the season at a respectable 8-8.


The Jets will be in Miami Dec. 2. They'll be well rested while the Dolphins will face a short week after their Monday nighter at Pittsburgh..

Jets at Cowboys, 4:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2 Radio: WEPN (1050), WABC (770)

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Keeping up with Joneses' parents a major challenge

Shaun Powell

November 22, 2007


One will play running back today for the Jets, the other for the Cowboys, and this rare brother versus brother meeting on our national family holiday obviously was made possible by two determined people.

But Thomas and Julius Jones aren't those two people.

Shaun Powell Bio | E-mail | Recent columns

Their presence at Texas Stadium this afternoon is because of the diligent work of Thomas Sr. and Betty Jones, whose story usually would make them a cinch to be voted MVPs (Most Valuable Parents) of the NFL, except that would be selling them way short. What father and mother did to raise their entire family, not just their two sons, went well beyond football.

Sure, as the celebrities in the bunch, Thomas and Julius beat steep odds to become NFL players and will be hyped often to spike a game that otherwise doesn't pack much punch. But Thomas and Julius also graduated college, and good ones, too; Thomas from Virginia and Julius from Notre Dame. And they didn't load up on jock courses; they got quality degrees, Thomas in psychiatry (took him three years) and Julius in sociology.

There's also their sister Gwen, who works in an accounting firm. She graduated from Tennessee, as did Beatrice, who's in real estate. Knetris got her degree at Virginia, where she attends grad school, along with Knetta, who's in med school. Finally, there's Katrice, a freshman at Virginia, and she's the reason that the Joneses, who will root equally for Thomas and Julius from the stands en masse, must leave right after today's game.

"She's a cheerleader at Virginia," Thomas Sr. said, "and there's a big game [saturday] with Virginia Tech."

Such is life for mother and father, the only life they've known ever since they decided to raise winners. And so Thomas Sr. and Betty did just that, one by one, accepting no excuses from themselves or their seven children or their circumstances.

They did this in Big Stone Gap, in smalltown Virginia, where the collars are blue and the soot is black, where Betty worked as a coal miner on the night shift for almost 20 years. Thomas Sr., who worked briefly in the mines, runs his own business. Both shared the responsibility of keeping their children educated and focused, all done without the luxuries that would make their jobs easy. There were no nannies, no private schools, no hired help, no family fortune to draw from. Nothing but work and persistence, and as a reward they got six kids with degrees, one working on it and two boys playing pro football on Thanksgiving.

They're a success story at a time when the traditional black family remains in crisis stage, which means Thomas, 29, and Julius, 26, must realize the advantage they hold on some of their less fortunate fellow athletes. The role of parents must be weighed when taking stock of troubled athletes. For example, where were the parents of disgraced dogfighter Michael Vick back when he was a budding childhood star who, in retrospect, lacked the foundation needed to deal with fame and fortune and "influential" friends?

Thomas Sr. and Betty don't promote themselves as the best parents, just the best they could be, "and not the most popular parents," the father said. "It's about giving your children what they need, and few things they want. We have flip-flopped that in today's society, and it's tearing down the fabric of the family."

Early on, Thomas and Julius were not granted favors once it became clear they could someday play football on Sundays. On the contrary, they were raised just like their sisters: education and priorities first, everything else a distant second.

"They didn't start out at birth as football players and they don't finish as football players," Thomas Sr. said.

And therefore, said Thomas Jr.: "I didn't want to be seen as a football player."

His father compares the lure of sports as "a high-beam headlight" that often blinds young kids. "It's unfortunate when children are pointed in that direction alone. Our kids have done it the right way and the hard way."

You get the feeling Thomas Jr. and Julius would've done well without football, but for now, football will do.

With their quarterback situation in a state of flux, the Jets' best hope lies with Thomas, a punishing runner. Julius rushed for 150 yards a few years ago on Thanksgiving against the Bears, when the brothers' teams first met. He now shares the ball with Marion Barber for the Cowboys, the league's best offense west of Foxborough.

Like all running backs, all Thomas and Julius require is a proper handoff, something their parents gave long ago.

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Forever thankful

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff

Julius Jones listened to the play call in the huddle and moved into position. Just before the snap, the Cowboys running back looked toward the visitors' sideline and locked eyes with his older brother, Thomas.

A subtle head nod from Thomas was all that was needed that afternoon in November 2004. Julius was making his first NFL start, Thomas was the Bears' No. 1 back, and their professional paths were crossing for the first time.

It was a salute -- to each other, to realizing their shared childhood dreams, to the simplicity of playing football on Thanksgiving afternoons, and to growing up the sons of two coal miners in Big Stone Gap, Va.

That same gesture could happen again this afternoon when Thomas and his new team, the Jets, play Julius and the Cowboys.

"Little things like that mean a lot to us," Julius said this week.

Thanksgiving was always special for Thomas and Julius. They would sit around the dinner table with their five sisters and parents and feast on mom's turkey, dressing, gravy and mac and cheese. When it was time for dessert, Thomas would tear through the homemade caramel cake and Julius would dash for the fresh-baked sweet potato pie.

The boys then would turn their attention to football.

"We always watched the NFL games, and after the game, we would always go out and imitate whatever running backs were playing that day," Thomas said. "Now, both of us have an opportunity to play against each other on Thanksgiving."

Late this afternoon, after watching Thomas and Julius, some young kid in Big Stone Gap might be running around their backyard pretending to be one of the Jones brothers -- possibly draped in a No. 20 Jets jersey or No. 21 of the Cowboys.

Their family, which planned to have an early Thanksgiving dinner at Julius' Dallas-area home, has found a way to avoid having to choose. Special jerseys, half-Jets green and half-Cowboys blue, will be worn today by the boys' parents, Betty and Thomas Sr., and their five sisters.

"We're just so elated, I can't put it into words," said Betty Jones, who worked in the coal mines for 19 years. "It's just sheer excitement, joy and happiness. To have two siblings playing against each other on Thanksgiving Day and what that day means. We feel so blessed to be together as a family and to see all seven of our children. It's truly a blessing. God is good."

Thomas and Julius are just as giddy as their family. It's one thing to have a brother in the NFL, like the Joneses or the Mannings or Barbers. It's another to play the same position and against each other on Thanksgiving Day. Three seasons ago on Thanksgiving Day, Julius had 150 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys defeated the Bears, 21-7. Thomas had just 46 yards on 14 carries.

"We do realize that, and our whole family realizes, too, and they're so excited," Julius said. "And this might not happen again, so we'll make the best out of it."

Thomas, 29, is three years older than Julius. The brothers were extremely close growing up -- the two shared a room, and Thomas said he used to play rough with Julius when they were kids to toughen him up -- and despite their schedules, still talk three times a week.

They've had plenty to fill those phone conversations this season. The 9-1 Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders, with Julius (428 yards and two touchdowns) sharing the workload with Marion Barber. The Jets (2-8) started the season poorly, though their surprising victory against the Steelers on Sunday included Thomas' 117 yards on a season-high 30 carries. But Thomas is still waiting to score his first touchdown of the season, and first as a Jet.

"Obviously, I'd love to have more opportunities, but we're winning and I don't complain," Julius said. Meantime, Thomas "is finally getting an opportunity to do what they paid him to do. It's a little frustrating, but I think they're going to get on track."

Usually during games, the brothers said they don't pay much attention to the other team's offense. Instead, they're on the sideline reviewing pictures of what the opposing defense is doing. Today, however, they said they'll be standing on the sideline watching each other.

"The last time we played Dallas on Thanksgiving, I didn't sit down the whole game because I was watching him," Thomas said. "I still kind of get butterflies and get nervous watching him because I want him to do well so bad. It's a weird feeling because I want to win but at the same time I want him to be successful."

Added Julius: "I'm supposed to be sitting on the bench, paying attention to the pictures but I can't do it. I've got to get up and watch him. I've got to. ... I'm going to be rooting for him ... but I hope we win."

Betty Jones just prays her boys stay healthy.

"It's such a blessing to have two sons playing in the NFL." she said. "It's amazing. I'm so proud of them. People always ask me who I'm rooting for. I just tell them I want both to stay healthy and that we as a family cheer for both of them. We know someone has to win and someone has to lose. But when the game is over, they're still brothers and they love each other so much."

Dave Hutchinson may be reached at


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