“I wasn’t necessarily that way when I was really young. I can honestly say that,” Jones told reporters during his weekly news conference. “Sometimes it was more about me than other people, and that’s not how it should be.”
The Athletic’s Steve Buckley since has confirmed the candid self-assessment, learning from Jones’ Pop Warner coach, Eric Yost, that the 23-year-old QB has, in fact, come a long way in his maturation.
“But I’m going to give you a little secret sauce about Mac,” Yost told Buckley. “Ask him to talk about wearing the white socks.”
The white socks?
“We always had the rule that nobody is bigger than the program,” Yost told Buckley, referring to a tradition in which all the kids on Jones’ Pop Warner teams wore white socks. “And Mac, at age seven, was a kid who fought it. He was saying he wanted to wear wrist bands on his socks, I want to wear multicolor, I want to stand out, and all that. And we said, no, white socks only or you’re not going to play.
“And he wasn’t the only one. Others tried as well. It wasn’t an issue. It was just kids learning, kids testing you.”
Jones has grown up quite a bit since causing a fuss about his team’s unofficial sock protocol at age 7. And there probably were a ton of moments that played into shaping the man, and quarterback, he is today with the Patriots.
Jones also is just scratching the surface of his NFL career. He presumably learned a lot while playing for Nick Saban at Alabama and will continue to develop, both as a player and a person, while playing for Bill Belichick in New England.
“It’s so funny, I listen to him now that he’s with the Patriots,” Yost told Buckley. “His voice and his tempo have changed since he was with Alabama last year. He’s a lot more reserved, which is fine. He’s in the NFL now.”
Jones, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was solid last week in his professional debut, completing 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards with a touchdown despite the Patriots falling 17-16 to the Miami Dolphins in their season opener. His next chance to secure his first NFL victory will come Sunday, when New England squares off with Zach Wilson and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Jones faces a difficult situation, being a rookie quarterback tasked with returning the Patriots to prominence one year after Tom Brady’s departure. But he seems to have the right mentality, perhaps thanks to some early life lessons after pushing back on those white socks.