Episode 045 – Former NFL Player And CBS Sports Host Brian Jones
Brian talks Lubbock to L.A. and back, the humble transition from NFL player to broadcaster, and a little Socrates for the exclamation point.
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Introduction / Bio:
Hey everyone and welcome to the All-Star Leader Podcast, where together we learn about leadership from the best and brightest, and keep it fun by connecting it to our passion for sports!
I’m your host Daniel Hare, and I am very excited about today’s show! Our guest is a familiar voice to college football fans everywhere. Brian Jones is a CBS Sports College Football Studio Analyst and host of the Gio and Jones Show on CBS Radio.
Brian played six seasons in the NFL after a college football career at both UCLA and The University of Texas.
This is Brian Jones. Hey Brian thank you so much for joining us!
- So first of all now that college football is over give us a little behind the scenes into what you’re up to during the offseason? Combine? NFL draft?
- Focusing on the radio job Gio and Jones, 6-9am EST M-F
- Draft shows from the college side
- Travel now that the weekends are free
- This past season we saw an incredible championship game with Clemson knocking off Alabama. We’ve talked on this show before about Nick Saban’s leadership style, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on Dabo Swinney’s leadership, and what we can learn from the two of them.
- Everyone has a process; it’s how you go about implementing that process
- Different approaches: Saban – stoic, business-like; Swinney – folksy, Mack Brown-ish, shaking hands/kissing babies
- There is a myriad of styles that can work; Brian likes a more hands-on/assertive approach
- Authenticity is the key; players can see through you. If you aren’t true to yourself, it will not work.
- Socrates quote: a life not self-examined is a life not worth living. (Or So-Crates as pronounced in West Texas)
- Let’s talk a bit about growing up in Lubbock and playing high school football in Texas. What did you learn from those days that shaped who you are today?
- Grandmother raised him; neither mom or dad were around. Another lady from the neighborhood helped as well
- Grandmother loved sports and that’s where it started
- Played neighborhood football on a concrete pad
- High school football in Texas is like religion; grew up in the Friday Night Lights era with Odessa-Permian; that really motivated you to do better; the conference was referred to as the little Southwest Conference
- You chose UCLA when coming out of high school before coming back to UT to finish up your college career; what went into those decisions and how do you look back on them now?
- Graduated high school 1986; SMU just got the death penalty; Every SWC school seemed to being investigated
- Went on recruiting trip to L.A. where it’s 75 degrees (and Lubbock was in the 20s)
- UCLA was coming off a Rose Bowl win against Iowa
- Fell in love with it; a whole other planet
- UT was always on his mind, though he did well at UCLA and enjoyed it
- There’s too much transferring now for the wrong reasons (playing time)
- Tough because he had great relationships with tremendous players/leaders at UCLA: Ken Norton, Jr., Frank Cornish, James Washington, Troy Aikman
- Also in 1984 was the Summer Olympics in L.A., so all these big-time track athletes would train at UCLA
- And lots going on with social issues on campus, including protests to divest in South Africa (response to apartheid)
- Go see the world; you can always return home; experience other cultures
- Who were leaders on those teams that you looked up to and why?
- A difficult dynamic that exists on a college campus many times is a new recruit joining the team and his relationship with the established player at that position
- Ken Norton, on the other hand, took Brian under his wing and was a great mentor and friend. He never felt threatened by Brian.
- James Primus mixed joking with serious
- Troy Aikman – so tough. Nebraska really gave him a beating but Troy kept getting up. How he went about his business as well.
- How they practiced, how they talked to teammates were all things Brian picked up on
- You then made it to the NFL; drafted by the Raiders in the 8th What surprised you the most when you transitioned from college to pro?
- Not as much politics at the pro level that you could sometimes experience in the collegiate game
- What shocked him was how different the league was in how stars were treated within the team. (Guys hanging out with Al Davis on the sideline during practice smoking cigarettes)
- House and Jerry Robinson took him under his wing. Winston Moss as well. Joe Kelly
- His rookie year they played a game over in Japan, and he was having a bit too much fun…Tim Brown and Marcus Allen pulled Brian to the side and said “Listen up young buck, you need to chill you’re a** out!”
- As wild as the Raiders were, still disciplined enough to win championships
- Vince Evans was a great leader as well.
- Who are some guys you played with or against that weren’t necessarily the best players, but were incredible leaders, and why?
- You have to have drive
- The skills translate to other walks of life as well
- Drive, determination, self-motivation
- Don’t talk about it, be about it. People don’t care what you say, they care what you do
- CBS Sports Radio boss Mark Chernoff. Gets there at 5am. Has already made a big name for himself in the industry. He empties trashcans, will B.S. with the guys. He could have a corner office with his feet kicked up, but he doesn’t
- Brian tries to know everyone in the building regardless of position, etc.; create a fun environment to work with
- Jerry Lee was his high school coach and would really drive them; tough, tough; when he thought he couldn’t keep going he found a way. That helps him today. So you have to balance that drive and motivation with the fun and warm environment.
- The transition out of playing professional sports can be tough on guys who have committed their entire lives to the game up to that point. Talk about how that process was for you.
- Difficult; athletes die twice: the first when their playing career ends
- What can you do to replace the rush and adrenaline that comes from playing? Guys try everything (drugs, women, etc.)
- Kenyon Rasheed (former OU and NFLer) would say you have to reinvent yourself.
- You can’t walk into a place of business quoting your stats and expect anything; how does that help their bottom line?
- Brian went back to school and got his degree after about a year in the wilderness
- Then he had an opportunity to join the Longhorn broadcast team, though as the parabolic mic holder
- That was humbling
- Helped him strip down his identity away from the number on his NFL jersey and focus on what it would be going forward
- Broadcast career took off after that; did sidelines the next year and hosted coaches’ shows
- Played in a golf tournament one time where the Fox Sports SW GM was playing as well. Brian had sent in his tape but hadn’t heard anything. He went up to him and asked if he would watch his tape. GM said he would check it out. That led to an audition and then a job.
- Then a job at CSTV (former guests Scottie Rodgers and Craig Esherick worked with me there!!)
- Fun to help a startup build something
- No self-entitlement or ego!! You have to work!
- Five rapid fire questions:
- Name one trait or characteristic you want to see in a colleague.
- Work ethic and no excuses
- What habit has been key to your success?
- Being honest with youself
- Most important app or productivity tool?
- Wireless headphones
- Most influential leader you’ve personally been around?
- Jerry Lee – high school coach
- One sentence of advice for emerging leaders?
- Don’t let others or societal norms define you. You define you.
- Name one trait or characteristic you want to see in a colleague.
- Where can people listen, watch, and connect with you?!
- Gio and Jones – CBS Radio on Sirius/XM, 6am-9am EST, M-F
- Twitter: @JonesN4Mo
- Yoga apparel – Yoga is my gym – ymg.yoga
- Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Group – music
- Jonathan Davis – production
- Clint Musslewhite – voice over