Mac Jones' Dad Predicted NFL Stardom for His Son, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa — and Got It in Writing
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For many, hindsight is 20/20. But for Gordon Jones, father of New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, his foresight is just as clear.
Prior to his son becoming a first-round pick at the 2021 NFL Draft, a move that ultimately led to Mac's mega success as a rookie (helping the Patriots to a 10-7 record and a playoff berth, while also earning Pro Bowl honors) — Gordon had the privilege of watching the athlete rise to stardom, an ascension he says he helped manifest since Mac's early days at the University of Alabama.
Mac, a Jacksonville, Florida native (who began his football career at age five), redshirted during his first season at Alabama in 2017 and played for the first time as member of the Crimson Tide in 2018. Although he didn't start on the field, Mac was a hungry third string quarterback.
Who fueled his hunger? The star quarterbacks ahead of him: Tua Tagovailoa, the current QB of the Miami Dolphins, and Jalen Hurts, the current QB of the Philadelphia Eagles. And while the players have now gone from Alabama teammates to NFL competitors, during Mac's college years, Gordon devised a plan that not only predicted his son's success in the NFL — but in part, aided it.
"I put together a whole list of goals for Mac," Gordon tells PEOPLE of the four-page, single-spaced list he penned for Mac in January 2018 out of concern he "was going to lose sight of how good he was."
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While Gordon's motivational list (now published in Tommy Ford's book, titled History Made: A Vision for Mac), was initially written to inspire his son ahead of Alabama's 2020 National Championship, it ultimately gave Mac a game plan for the remainder of his professional football career.
But "The List" — as named by Mac, who penned the forward in the publication — wasn't the first manifestation Gordon demonstrated ahead of his son's success in the NFL. Following Alabama's victory at the 2017 National Championships, the forecasting father had a request.
That being: To get one football autographed by Tagovailoa, Hurts and Mac. Why? "Because it's hard for Mac and kids at that age to appreciate the sense of history that might be coming down the road," Gordon tells PEOPLE.
"That might turn out to be the greatest quarterback room in collegiate history," he adds.
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And while Gordon understands that his reasoning may be stemming from "dad's perspective," he believes that it is "somewhat objective." Like Mac, Tagovailoa and Hurts are starters in the NFL, who have each helped their teams to spots in the playoffs since entering the League.
Football forecaster, potential predictor, crystal-ball gazer — whatever title you want to give him, at the end of the day, Gordon is a father who wants nothing but the best for his son. "My goal and my wife Holly's goal was to get him to a point where he was an adult making his own decisions, and was making good decision," he says of Mac.
"And certainly there are things that I wish and hope that he does better, and I think he probably feels the same way," he continues. "There might be a list that comes out from Dad that I give to him at some point after this season cools off."
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Of what that list might say: "Hey, these are the things I observed. Take the list and implement the ones you think that you should implement and throw out the rest of them," imagines Gordon.
"I'm still your dad and I'm still going to love you," he concludes. "I'm not your coach. I want to be your father. I don't want to be your coach. There are other people that are much better at doing that."
For the man who can seemingly predict the future, it'd be remiss not to ask for his 2023 Super Bowl prediction — even if his son and the Patriots are out of the running.
"I would love Jalen to be able to do things, from a personal standpoint," says Gordon of the Eagles' QB. "He was always very good to us as a family. He was one of the first people that greeted us at Alabama. And he was always very kind to Mac, even though they competed."
Otherwise, he says he "doesn't really have a prediction." But like the father he is, Gordon is always looking to the future — confidently noting of Mac's team, "We'll get 'em next year."