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By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000
He leads the team in sacks, spends all his time reading comic books and is afraid of flying. From bigfoot, to aliens, to vampires, 6-foot-6, 278-pound defensive end Marcus Jones, 27, has a unique perspective ... and then some.
RM: Why the fascination with comic books?
MJ: To be honest with you, comic books helped me learn how to read. I used to be bored looking at those pages with all those words and have no pictures. It wasn't fun. I didn't want to read (regular) books. But with comic books, they are so alive. You could look at the pictures, see what's going on and then you can't wait to read what's in the box to see what the author is trying to convey.
RM: So there's value in the theme of a comic book?
MJ: People fail to realize that comic books deal with so many issues relative to what we have to deal with in everyday life. The way you decipher a comic book is up in your head, in your mind. It's not somebody telling you what a book is about. You make your own assessments about comics. Take for instance, the Xmen. You can take what that's about and apply it to the real world. The majority of Xmen are mutants, so that means they are the outcasts from society. Now, even though they are trying to do well, they are feared and hated throughout the world by other people who are different to them. You can take that and basically put that on so many groups of people who have been oppressed throughout our history.
RM: Who was your childhood comic hero?
MJ: When I grew up the guy I liked the most was the Hulk. There was a time when I hit a growth spurt and all the older guys would mess with me and the younger guys were afraid of me so it got to a point where I just wanted to be left alone. In a sense I felt like him.
RM: An unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, are you about to get paid?
MJ: There's a business side to football. Look at it this way, if you had a job that you loved and were doing well, wouldn't you like a raise? If you're coming to work on time and excelling, wouldn't you like a raise? At the same time, I love it here. There's no place I would rather be than playing under Coach (Tony) Dungy. I love it here. My family lives here. My mom lives here.
RM: Do you think your love for the area limits your leverage come negotiation time?
MJ: No. The only thing that gives you more or less leverage is how good or how poorly you play, and I'm playing well. Those decisions are based on your performance, nothing else.
RM: You have a fear of flying?
MJ: When I was young, I saw this movie called Twilight Zone, the Movie and there was this troll sitting on the wing of a plane just tearing that plane up and there was this guy in the plane who saw the troll and was trying to do something about it and nobody would listen. It terrified me. At that moment, I realized that when I'm in the air, if something goes wrong, I'm through. The other day I was coming back from the Bahamas and the plane hit a pocket and dropped a few hundred feet and I screamed really loud and this guy looked back and told me that I'm safer in a plane than in a car. I asked him, "How many people you know survive an airplane crash?" He shut up.
RM: You have to fly with the Bucs.
MJ: It's easier when I'm with the team. I don't know why but it's easier. I guess I'm distracted, safety in numbers. It would look pretty bad for an airline if they had a professional team go out in a crash so I'm hoping they would never give us a bad plane.
RM: Tell us about that really bad day two seasons ago.
MJ: I remember it like yesterday. I stayed out partying and drinking all night long and had just 30 minutes to get back home and get to One Buc Place to lift weights (7 a.m.). I was loaded up. I smelled like pure liquor. I remember falling asleep in the meeting room and everybody on the defensive line knew. It was one of the worst things I ever did. It showed everyone that I wasn't concerned about my job. (Defensive line coach) Rod (Marinelli) came over to me and said, "What's wrong with you. You need to snap out of this thing; you can't be doing things like this." Some of the guys were like, "Dang Jones, you smell like liquor, what's up." It was one of the lowest moments."
RM: Bob Marley?
MJ: I love his music. I love what he stood for. Bob spoke more about the times and what people need to be listening to and seeing. He was kind of like a prophet and at the same time, he was like what the newspaper is to someone who plays the stock market every day. He was a chronicle of the events of the time.
RM: Heard you strongly believe in aliens and UFOs.
MJ: First of all, there's a real possibility of there being life somewhere out in our universe, where that planet is equidistant from the sun to create life and they have everything we have. Think about this -- every time we talk about aliens, we talk about somebody with a big head and all skinny and their skin all slimy. Now, think about this. If you were in stasis, like in a liquid oxygen tank and going light years to some other place. When you get out the oxygen tank, your muscles would shrivel up from lack of use, your skin would be slimy from the liquid you were in and you would look like you had a big head because of your skinny body. I can understand that. And if their planet was three or four times bigger than ours, they would be three or four times bigger than us. It could go that way. I've thought a lot about that one.
MJ: I don't have any proof of him existing and every time they come up with proof it turns out to be a hoax. I would have to say no.
MJ: No. It's a myth. My grandfather said it's a myth that came about because of rabies and the fact that the virus is transmitted through saliva.
MJ: I used to believe in ghosts. But now that I'm more stable and found God it's not disproven but because of my faith, it's discontinued. But if you ask me if I was the kid who screamed when the lights were out and ran straight to my bed? I was that guy. I believed in everything. You couldn't tell me that witches didn't exist, I was totally into the thought that anything could happen.