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Jacoby Jones Carries New Orleans On His Back


Emily Jones has been furiously preparing enough food for 150 plates.

As soon as the team touches down in New Orleans today, wide receiver/return specialist Jacoby Jones' mom will feed the Baltimore Ravens.

It's just some good ole Big Easy hospitality, she said.

"They're going to get off that plane and be hungry," Emily said before rattling off her menu. "Gumbo, rotisserie chicken, seven-cheese baked macaroni, bell-pepper jambalaya, green peas, potato salad, bread pudding."

Jacoby Jones takes after his mother. He oozes New Orleans pride and literally has it tattooed on his back.

As he returns home to live out a lifelong dream of playing in the Super Bowl in the Superdome, Jones comes back with the pride of a city's son.

"I've wanted this so bad," Jacoby said.

Two years ago, Jones told his friend, former Saints cornerback Tracy Porter, that when the Super Bowl was in New Orleans he was going to play in it.

That summer, Jones got a tattoo on his back. It's of the New Orleans skyline.

"There are a lot of people that come out of New Orleans that don't really make it," Jones said. "I'm one of the ones that made it. I was like, 'You know what? I'm going to put my city on my back – literally.'"

Jones' childhood in New Orleans wasn't always easy, but it was filled with characters that made him the goofball he is today. Jones' biological father was out of the picture early via divorce. He was raised by a gaggle of women, led by his mother, Great Grandmother Margret London and Great, Great Aunt Emily Soloman.

That's where he learned some of his old sayings, such as the "pregnant possum" he used to describe the ticked off Cleveland Browns.

Being raised by women didn't affect Jacoby's love of sports, however. When he was a child, he used to wear an Archie Manning jersey, pants and Saints helmet in his stroller. He wore the jersey to church too.

"He would tell me all the time, 'Football mommy, football!" Emily said.

Emily realized her son might have a future in sports when one day, as he did often, Jacoby walked into the grocery store, turned around to his mother, challenged her to catch him and dashed off. It was a hopeless task to try to chase him. He was too fast.

Jacoby was guided to football and fell in love. The only problem was that he didn't focus enough attention on the other areas of his life – particularly just having fun.

He enrolled to Southeastern Louisiana University on a track scholarship, but saw that revoked after he got in trouble for poor grades. Jacoby transferred to small-school Lane College, where he would have a chance to play football.

Jacoby shined there and was drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round, a high pick for a prospect out of such a small school. He had some good years there, but was cut last year after he made a critical mistake in the divisional playoffs in Baltimore.

Jacoby tried to field a punt deep in his own zone and fumbled it. The Ravens recovered [TO NOT A] a score a quick touchdown. The city of Houston let him have it. Jones said fans were burning his jersey.

"When he dropped that ball in the playoffs last year, a lot of the city turned on Jacoby," said Ravens fullback Vonta Leach, a former teammate of Jones' in Houston. "I think he needed a fresh start."

Jones was cut just a year after signing a contract extension, and the usually cheery receiver described the feeling as "falling flat on my face."

"The thing about New Orleans people is we're very kind hearted," he said. "But if you cross us, it's not good. You will see the [crap] come out of me.

"I wanted to show them. I was hungry."

Jacoby came to Baltimore and immediately impressed coaches and teammates with his positive demeanor, work ethic and talent. After starting the season as the backup returner, he took over the job and finished leading the NFL in kickoff return yardage (30.7).

He scored three special teams touchdowns, capping each with a signature dance New Orleans would be proud of. Emily was in the corner of the end zone dancing right along with him.

"I can do all his dances," Emily said with a laugh.

Jacoby's liveliness has been on full display this year. He constantly wears a Ravens bandana like some sort of ninja warrior. He's constantly talking, constantly dancing. He's serious about his desire to be on the ABC television show, "Dancing With The Stars."

"Jacoby's hilarious, man," said wide receiver Torrey Smith, who has the adjacent locker. "It's everything about him. Every week he says something he probably shouldn't say."

On Sunday, Jones will be a pivotal figure in the Superdome. And this time he'll try to let his play do the talking in his hometown.

"Can't wait," Jones said. "All I can say is I'm going big."

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