“Mike Jones” is a fairly common name.
Just how common? According to the Social Security Administration, “Michael” was the fourth-most common American male first name of the last 100 years and at the time of the last census, “Jones” was the fifth most common last name in the U.S.
One particular “Mike Jones” is an extremely capable USA Today NFL reporter/columnist/podcaster. He had a question for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson after their win against the Titans Jan. 10. Jackson, was, well, particularly excited to hear from him.
As good of a reporter as this particular Mike Jones is, Jackson’s excitement, of course, is because he shares a name with Michael Allen Jones, the Houston rapper who scored a top 40 pop hit with his infectious 2005 jam “Back Then” from the platinum-selling album “Who Is Mike Jones?” After a clip of the press conference went viral, the rapper was trending on Twitter more than a decade after his last charting single. And he was appreciative of the shout-out.
“When I seen it I was like, ‘Wow,’” Jones said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 14. “It really hit me because it let me know the music really touched. For him to react like that, that was a big ‘wow’ to me.”
Jones’ musical stardom coincided with true pop culture phenomena in the mid-2000s. To this day, the many Mike Joneses of the world still hear someone shout “WHO?” after their name is spoken out loud. (The former Maryland basketball guard of the same name heard it after every made shot during his career.) After giving out his personal cell phone in the lyrics of “Back Then,” 281-330-8004 became a younger generation’s “867-5309.” For the record, he recently reobtained that number and doesn’t mind the calls/texts. Or those who shout “who” or his own name at him on the street.
And after learning that Jackson was a fan, he started finding out more about the quarterback’s background. That made the quarterback’s appreciation all the more meaningful.
“To see what he really overcame, it really just brought it full circle, kinda like what’s going on in my life,” Jones said. “So we can relate a lot.”
Jackson, of course, has dealt with a lifetime’s worth of detractors. Not only did pundits suggest he couldn’t be a professional quarterback, teams passed on their opportunity to select him until the Ravens nabbed him with the 32nd pick in 2018. Even still, many fans and analysts alike refused to believe he could become a high-level NFL quarterback. Evan after a UNANIMOUS MVP season in 2019, those same detractors used his playoff record to attempt to dismiss him.
Jones was particularly inspired to find out that Jackson was listening to his music as he worked his way through a life full of proving doubters wrong.
“That’s why it was beautiful that he was able to overcome it,” Jones said. “That’s why he’s got that confidence that he’s got. That’s why I think when the reporter, Mike Jones, mentioned the name, it just brought back memories to him. He was jamming that [music] all through that mental mindset for him to get to where he’s at today.
“Like he said, he was jamming that on his come-up. So he was going through what he was going through, the doubters and everyone not believing in him, so he needed some type of music, some type of people around him to keep him motivated to be able to do what he just proved the other day to everybody.”
The Ravens’ Mike Jones love-fest didn’t end after the game. Two days later, head coach John Harbaugh referenced Jackson’s appreciation for the rapper in a press conference and suggested he needed to become a Mike Jones fan himself.
Then Jackson heard that Harbaugh was asking about Jones and recommended Harbaugh take a listen to the 2005 hit “Flossin.”
Jones himself recommended one of his newer songs to the 58-year-old coach of the Ravens.
“I’ll say ‘Next To You,’” Jones said. “Because I know he’s a family man, I know he’s got kids, I’m sure. I think if he played ‘Next To You,’ I think that would be a record that him and his wife and his family would love. I think that would be a great intro to Mike Jones. That’s the last record I actually put out.
“And then once you check it out and then you see, ‘Oh, OK, wow, he do got a groove, he got a jam,’ then you can go check out Flossin’. Flossin’ is when you’re riding with the top down and you’re feeling good. And you know, Lamar was feeling good, he was Flossin’ in that candy paint.”
As much as it meant to find out Jackson was a fan, Jones was equally touched to learn that Harbaugh was willing to seek his music out.
“I’m showing love to the coach because he’s an OG with it. Because he was like, ‘I don’t know who he is, but I gotta go get that album.’ So I support him,” Jones said. “I support the whole team. I support Lamar doing his thing. Everything go good and the coach say he like ‘Next to You,’ me and Lamar link up, man I’m gonna have to come out there for the Super Bowl.”
Jones is working on new music with his “Money Train” record label and acknowledges that being Mike Jones still has major benefits in 2021 … but it wasn’t always that way.
“It’s almost the same like the life of Lamar,” Jones said. “It’s almost like at the beginning, it wasn’t cool to be Mike Jones. I’m sure it wasn’t cool to be Lamar if you ever talk to him. He had to keep going and keep fighting and keep maneuvering. Now it’s cool to be Mike Jones, but I remember the struggle like he remember the struggle, you remember his struggle. So it’s always love when you know a person went through something and when they finally still made it, you can always tell the next person, ‘Hey, Lamar made it, you can make it. Mike made it, you can make it.’ No excuses.”
And Jones says definitively now that he’s a Lamar Jackson fan.
“Just for him to say what he said the other day and pay that love back to me and let me know he was riding and going through his life and I was the instrumentation of it, while he was going through it,” Jones said. “And there was a record or two or whatever that he was able to groove with to help him do his thing and when that reporter mentioned it, it just brought back a flashback. … To me, it was a moment to let me know he was rocking with me. And I’m rocking with him.”
For more from Jones, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Money Train LLC