A defining moment

Let's say you're 43 years-old as you're reading this.

Some of you are older, some of you are younger. But if you are 43, perhaps this story is about you.

But probably not.

To pick a number, let's say you live to 80. A good life, I think we'd all agree. But your life is defined by one moment, a moment that lasts 6 seconds.

A life of 80 years, or 2,524,556,160 seconds, defined by 6.

Would you like that? Not much can really happen in 6 seconds, can it?

Oh, my, can it ever.

Mike Jones has had plenty of great moments in his life, both on and off the football field, and he certainly has a lot more to come. But on Jan. 30, 2000, when Jones wrapped up Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line on the last play of Super Bowl XXXIV, he became an instant legend.

The Tackle.

Final score: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16.

"It's great to be remembered for a great play," Jones said. "I know I was a good football player and I made a lot of plays, but if I'm defined by making the last play in the Super Bowl, that's not a bad play to be defined by."

As a result of this one play, Jones was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday in Springfield.

"It's a great honor, especially since I'm a kid who grew up in Missouri," said Jones, 43, now the head coach of the Lincoln Blue Tigers.

"The state of Missouri has been unbelievable to me."

Let's talk about this play.

The Titans were down 7 with 6 seconds left and had the ball just inside the Rams' 10. Steve McNair found Dyson on a slant and he was dashing toward the end zone.

"(Dyson) thought I was going to run with the tight end but as soon as I planted, I knew I was going to come downhill at him," Jones said. "He wouldn't know what hit him.

"When I tackled him --- and I knew he was reaching for the goal line --- he fell like a tree. There was no way I was going to let go of him."

Dyson stretched toward the end zone, but his stretch ended 1 yard short.

It's still rated the No. 2 play in Super Bowl history.

"You know what? It could be worse," Jones said. "People ask me if I ever get tired of talking about the play. I tell them no, because I could have been the guy who missed the tackle."

It certainly could be worse. When you hear the name Bill Buckner, what do you think?

"It's something I did all the time, I just made a tackle," Jones said. "I was just doing my job."

Jones --- who enjoyed a solid 12-year career in the NFL with the Raiders, Rams and Steelers --- was inducted into the Missouri Hall along with Dick Vermeil, who coached that Super Bowl team, and quarterback Trent Green.

"Coach Vermeil taught me a lot about not only being a player and a coach, but being a man," Jones said. "Everybody feels the same way about him, whether you played for him in the 70's or 90's ... he teaches the same things about character and building a program."

Vermeil on Jones: "Mike gets credit for making that great tackle, and he should. You wake up at night, once in a while, and you think about that. You shake yourself.

"That was a great experience but really, I think more about the whole journey than the one game. He should get even more credit for helping us get there over a three-year period."

Green was slated to be the starter for the Rams that championship year, before he suffered a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game.

Enter Kurt Warner, who was then an unknown stock boy from a grocery store in Iowa.

"When Trent got hurt," Jones said, "we looked at Kurt and Kurt looked at us and we thought: 'Man, we're in trouble.'

"Little did we know...."

This has been a great few days for Jones, as his Blue Tigers notched their first win of the season Saturday (34-27 over Nebraska-Kearney) --- and the school's first in the MIAA since rejoining the conference last year.

"It was gratifying, it was great .... it was any adjective you want," Jones said. "Everything is better after you get a victory. Your guys walk a little faster, they work a little harder ... it's all good."

Jones is known for those few seconds of glory, but he how faces years of rebuilding a bottomed-out program.

"The program is definitely going in the right direction," he said. "We're learning how to play in a conference as tough as the MIAA --- it's the SEC of Division II football.

"The program didn't get in this shape overnight and it can't be fixed overnight."

But now, Jones can throw his Hall of Fame weight around with his players. Then again, maybe not.

"That will work," he said with a laugh, "for all of about 2 seconds."

It should work for at least 6.