For the last decade, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has been one of football’s brightest stars. He’s gone from top recruit to first round pick to NFL All-Pro in that span, so it’d be natural to think that his childhood revolved around football, but it didn’t.
“I really didn’t watch NFL football,” Jones told reporters Wednesday from Memorial City Mall.
That’s right, one of the most important players that will be on the NRG Stadium field in Super Bowl LI on Sunday did not watch the sport he now dominates while growing up in Foley, Alabama.
“I’ve seen one clip of Barry Sanders when I was younger, that was it though.”
Jones had to have watched the Super Bowl, right? I mean, everyone in the world watches it.
“I didn’t know anything about no Super Bowl growing up.”
In an era where kids are practically raised by television and video games, Jones grew up the old-fashioned way.
“I was always outside,” he explained. “I had a childhood, playing around, having fun.
The All-Pro receiver was picked sixth by the Falcons six years ago after an All American career at Alabama where he won a National Championship as a sophomore. He was one of the nation’s most sought after recruits at Foley High School where he also played basketball, but he preferred another sport.
“Track was my favorite sport,” he said. “I did long jump, triple jump, and high jump.”
He won the Alabama Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the year award in 2007, but the sport was missing something, and that’s what drew him to football.
“(Track) is just individual,” he said. “I won a lot, just individual goals, but football became the sport I loved because just brining other people with you, and it was always fun to have 10 other guys on the same page as you to be successful.”
On Sunday, Julio Jones will take the field on the world’s biggest stage in a game that everyone in uniform grew up watching and dreaming of playing in, except for him.