The “Flashback” segment, an original series over at my site and one I've continued here as well, is back with another look at past Eagles players and events! Most recently, hard-hitting safety Andre Waters was examined, but now Dhani Jones, an entertainment-seeking linebacker for the team from 2004 to 2006, has been focused on.
Why was Jones chosen as the centerpiece of this “Flashback” article? Like the selection of Waters and others in the most recent parts of the series, there are several reasons…one is that he played a position within the linebacker corps, a group that the Eagles have had mixed success in so far this season, and another is that, like current Philadelphia ‘backer Ernie Sims, he tried to prove his worth as a starter for the club after joining as an acquisition with high expectations.
A promising athlete from a young age, Jones was noted for his skills as a basketball player and wrestler throughout middle and high school, and was ranked as one of the top linebacker prospects for football despite suffering a disc injury to his neck during a workout for Penn State. He played at the collegiate level alongside a Heisman Trophy winner in Charles Woodson at the University of Michigan, and racked up a couple of respectable seasons as one of the starting linebackers. Because of what many considered to be a lackluster ability in pass coverage, Jones’ stock for the 2000 NFL Draft declined quite a bit, and he ended up being selected in the sixth round by the Giants as a project for the future, where he spent his first three seasons developing into a capable first-string defender.
The Eagles inked Jones to a free agent contract following the ‘03 season, hoping he would come in and solidify the linebacker corps as a starting OLB. After a 120-tackle, three-sack campaign in New York, he agreed to a contract worth approximately $12.5 million over several seasons, and was immediately inserted into the lineup. And while he made a few plays from time to time (and usually followed them up with his signature air guitar dance), stuffing a runner behind the line of scrimmage or notching a solid tackle to prevent a long run, the Eagles eventually found themselves longing for more production at his position, especially on plays when the opposing team passed the ball. After a trade for Takeo Spikes and adjustment of the LB unit, Philadelphia cut ties with Jones in April of 2007, ending his brief tenure with the organization that consisted of some success but was ultimately deemed a disappointment because of the expectations he was given.
Following his release, Jones spent a brief period of time with the Saints before being released, and has been a starter in the Bengals’ system for the past few years. Mostly manning the middle linebacker spot in Cincinnati, he has arguably played the best football of his career, consistently leading his club in tackles and with already over 100 take-downs this season, but continues to deal with trouble in coverage. Though many Eagles fans don’t like to look back upon his career in the City of Brotherly Love because of the struggles he had after signing a good contract, his role off the field certainly kept the followers of Philadelphia entertained; in his spare time, Jones clearly displayed his admiration of music, garnered attention because of his puffed afro, and often appeared as a model for his own fashion designs, suits, and bow ties.