Updated June 4, 2022 - 3:02 pm
They were always competing. Who could eat the fastest. Who could run to the refrigerator fastest. Anything that three brothers might imagine to challenge one another.
Chandler Jones was the youngest.
Which means he finished last a lot.
“It led to my success,” he said. “It made me better. Just growing up and having that work ethic instilled at an early age. It’s just second nature.”
So is this for him: Ranking among the NFL’s most fiercest pass rushers.
If wide receiver Davante Adams was the jewel of the Raiders’ off-season transactions, consider Jones a fairly precious gem himself. Adding a Pro Bowl defensive end to bookend the one you already have tends to open eyes and make opposing quarterback sweat a tad more.
Maxx Crosby should have some serious company in the backfield this coming season.
Small town, big dreams
Jones was born in Rochester, New York, and is a product of Endicott, a village that sits along the Susquehanna River and a handshake from nearby Binghamton and Johnson City. It has been said the country is made up of such small towns and big dreams. Jones certainly knows about the latter.
He was one of those kids who at a young age said his was a goal to play in the NFL. Has he ever.
Jones shortly will enter his 11th season and continues to build on what might one day prove a Hall of Fame resume, a Super Bowl champion with 107.5 career sacks and four Pro Bowls.
“He’s a true professional,” said Raiders defensive line coach Frank Okam. “You see how hard he’s running to the ball. He’s leading by example with this effort. And I think that’s the thing that is a testament to his longevity in his career and why he’s been so successful for this long amount of time.”
Jones signed a three-year deal with the Raiders worth more than $51 million ($34 million guaranteed), the brother of former NFL defensive lineman/Super Bowl champion Arthur Jones and former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, arguably the greatest fighter in history.
Those must have been some serious scraps between brothers back in the day.
“We still spar,” Chandler Jones said.
What the Raiders hope is that there is still plenty of gas left in the tank for Jones at age 32, that he remains the player who had double-digit sacks in five of six seasons with Arizona. That the all-time sacks leader in Cardinals history can equal or better the 10.5 he put up last season.
The guy had 17 in 2017 and 19 two years later. He gets after it.
“Chandler’s been incredible since (he) got here,” Crosby said. “He’s a great leader. I’m constantly asking him questions. He asks me stuff all the time and it throws me off because I look at his career and that’s something that I aspire to do. He’s been incredible since Day One.”
There is familiarity with a new staff, Jones having played in New England when Raiders coach Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham were also members of the Patriots Way.
Now, all are unified in their quest to build the Raiders into a consistent winner and playoff participant. You can do a lot worse than Jones on one side and Crosby on the other to begin such a journey.
“I get butterflies every day,” Jones said. “That shows I love the game, I love the sport, I want to do well … I don’t want to go around and say, ‘You know what I can do.’ It’s about, ‘What have you done for me lately? What can you do for me now?’ I understand that. I take pride in that.
“I come to work every day with a smile on my face and to perfect my craft.”
Heck. He might even be able to eat the fastest and reach the refrigerator first now.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.