BY BOB KLAPISCH, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
KIM JONES HAS BEEN A REPORTER for the NFL Network since 2012, reaching 72 million households—or 62 percent of homes with at least one television set. A former Newark Star- Ledger beat writer and YES Network reporter who covered the Yankees, she also does fill-in hosting for WFAN Sports Radio. After a recent health crisis, she is back on the field doing what she loves and does so well—talking football and sports with and for fans. Here are her thoughts on her health scare and the football season for the New York Giants and the New York Jets.
COMMERCE: You became ill while spending a day in the Washington Redskins camp. What happened?
KIM JONES: I felt an intense rush of heat on both sides of my neck. The Redskins staff got involved, and a doctor who was usually never in camp was there. He essentially saved my life. I was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance and they recognized it right away as an aortic dissection.
Q. Approximately 20 percent of those stricken die before reaching the hospital. Without treatment, 80 percent die within two weeks. Are you OK now?
A. I can’t have another aortic dissection—it’s probably the most pristine part of my body now. But I will have scans and follow-ups and there may be other issues that have to be dealt with. I can’t exercise the way I used to. I can jog, I can do a spin class, but I mostly walk. I will get back to upper body resistance training, using light weights. I will be taking medicine morning and night from now on.
Q. How has this experience changed you?
A. When I was in the hospital, I thought to myself, “I want to get back to being myself and then everything will be good.” But I think that understates the way this episode impacted me. I’m still doing my job, but I choose to do it differently. I don’t necessarily mean better, but I’m different in the way I ask questions and forgiving people for their mistakes. I am now comfortable in a way that is different, and probably the way I should have been. I am happier doing my job this way. In the hospital I thought I can never again use statistics to fully evaluate a player, because my stats for survival weren’t all that great. Yet, I had surgeons who didn’t doubt me. So, as a reporter, I can’t evaluate an athlete just by numbers— their internal fortitude can’t be measured that way.
Q. What’s your prognosis for the Giants?
A. They have a favorable schedule this year, they believe staunchly in Eli Manning returning to vintage form with a better offensive line, even though they did lose their best downfield weapon in Odell Beckham Jr. And without him, the Giants also lost the player who would’ve best been able to help Saquon Barkley and keep opposing teams from focusing just on him on game day. I think Giants fans should look at the schedule if they believe in the team’s leadership, and they should believe in Eli. There’s no reason why they can’t be successful.
Q. Have you been able to solve the mystery of OBJ? Who is Odell Beckham Jr.?
A. I’d have to say he’s the most gifted athlete I’ve ever seen. The way he runs, how he catches a football, the way he can throw perfect spirals. He threw two touchdown passes last year, both spirals, and one was completely flatfooted. How many receivers can do that? Odell is talented in a way most of us can’t even dream of. He’s also the biggest lightning rod I’ve every covered.
Q. Is Odell a good guy?
A. In my experience, he’s an absolute terrific guy. I got more texts from him while I was in the hospital than anyone. I’m grateful for people like him and their friendships.
Q. Should Jets fans be optimistic about the season?
A. I think the Jets helped themselves with free agents about as much as they could have. I think they could be exciting. Everyone expects quarterback Sam Darnold to take a step forward from a promising rookie season. It was an introduction to an NFL that he can clearly play in. Running back Le’Veon Bell is a security blanket. C.J. Mosley is very much a mature, almost stereotypical middle linebacker and I think he will steady that defense. I look forward to seeing what head coach Adam Gase will do and how his familiarity with the division will help.
Q. How do you feel about working for WFAN Sports Radio?
A. I enjoy the interactions with the callers who are passionate about their sports. I enjoy being a reporter on the NFL Network, but at WFAN, there’s the idea that I’m going to talk about the Jets and Giants and I’m not going to shy away from strong opinions. That’s a lot of fun for me.