BY: John Mamola
Former Missouri football player Michael Sam returned to campus on Saturday before the Tigers game against Tennessee as he and his teammates accepted the 2014 Cotton Bowl Championship Trophy. Sam and his teammates received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd, despite the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church protesting Sam outside the venue.
Of course Sam made worldwide headlines a week ago revealing his is gay months before the NFL draft in which he is expected to be a mid round selection.
According to a press release by Westboro Baptist Church (WARNING: COULD BE NSFW):
"It happens this bit of rebellious drama is playing out down the road from WBC, in Missouri, where they are famous for two things, to wit, bestiality, & persecuting the saints of the Most High God. So we’ll graciously respond to the engraved invitation; bring some snappy new picket signs to the campus of the University of Missouri; & introduce the student body to a bit of sanity & truth. #StandWithSam & #EndInHell. For sure that will leave each of those young rebels, & all the adults who satellite around them (including the entire sports media industry), without excuse. Perchance there will be one soul in the mob that fears God, who will come forth & obey. #SamStandsAgainstGod"
Needless to say, the students of Missouri stood by their classmate blocking the protest from being viewed on campus forming a wall around the campus where the protest took place across the street.
Tom Jones was born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and studied English at the University of South Florida from 1982 to 1986.
He began his writing career with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1985. He then went on to work for the St. Petersburg Times from 1987 to 1991, the Tampa Tribune from 1991 to 1996, the St. Petersburg Times again from 1996 to 2000 and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune from 2000 to 2003. He then rejoined the St. Petersburg Times for a third time in his career in 2003, where he worked ever since.
Jones has spent most of his career covering the NHL, including being a beat writer for more than 15 years of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota. Wild. He also spent two years on the Tampa Bay Rays beat. He then become a columnist at Times starting in 2007. Jones has won several national and state writing awards, including a top 10 game story in the nation in 1998 as named by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Over the course of his career, Jones has covered the Olympics, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup finals, baseball and hockey all-star games, the NCAA basketball tournament and the Frozen Four.
Jones lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Patty, and sons, Sam and Andy.
With over two decades of reporting on professional and collegiate sports for the Tampa Bay Times, through performance and work experience in journalism and broadcasting in television and radio, Rick Stroud has cultivated an impressive list of sources and utilized his knowledge to produce an outstanding body of work in both print and electronic mediums.
During his career, Stroud has reported on national sporting events including 22 Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, and the Major League Baseball Playoffs. While working as the beat writer assigned to the University of Florida at the Times, Stroudâ€™s stories documented NCAA rules violations by the football and basketball programs. The stories for which Stroud won second place for Best Investigative Reporting from the Associated Press Sports Editors, led to sanctions against both Gators programs.
Since 2004, Stroud has appeared as an NFL Insider for ESPN2â€™s First Take and is a regular contributor to ESPNâ€™s SportsCenter, NFL Live, Outside the Lines and Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio. He also contributes to NFL Networkâ€™s Total Access.
Stroud becan covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the National Football League in 1990. Since then, the Bucs have undergone seven coaching changes, the death of owner Hugh Culverhouse and the sale of the franchise to billionaire owner Malcolm Glazer and a stadium referendum. They also celebrated a Super Bowl XXVII victory. His reporting was referenced in Tony Dungyâ€™s best seller, Quiet Strength, particularly because it was Stroud who informed Dungy of the Bucsâ€™ plan to replace him with Giants Super Bowl coach Bill Parcells.
A former Div. I-A baseball player at Arkansas , Stroud brings a unique perspective to sports reporting. During the NFL lockout in 2011, he also served as one of the Timesâ€™ beat writers responsible for covering the Tampa Bay Rays.