Leading by example: Adam Jones relishes role as mentor to Bengals, his kids

Bengals cornerback Adam Jones on leading by example for rookie William Jackson III: "He'll see me working and he'll understand the mindset of the locker room and how we do things." Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI -- On both his post-selection conference call with Cincinnati Bengals media, and during his introductory news conference at Paul Brown Stadium a day later, first-round pick William Jackson III expressed a willingness to listen to anything his new teammate, Adam Jones, told him.

"I want to get under his wing to see how he prepares and see what he did to stay in the league so long," Jackson said. "He will be a big mentor to me."

A few hours after his Cincinnati arrival, Jackson got to meet his new role model.

That night, Jones and fellow Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick organized a group that took Jackson to the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse a few blocks from the stadium. Jackson's feet had barely been on Ohio soil, but he was already getting an idea of what life inside his new position room would look like.

The M-word -- "mentor" -- has been thrown Jones' way a lot recently. As he continues evolving as a player, husband and father, the 32-year-old has no problem seeing it attached to his name. These days, he relishes it.

"It's always good when the guys pay a little bit of homage or respect or however you want to use it," Jones said this month about Jackson. "I'm eager for him to get up under my wing. I'm ready to give him everything I've got. Hopefully he'll come in here and contribute and we'll be sitting back at the end of this thing smiling."

Six years ago, many might have found it hard to consider Jones a mentor of any kind. After some serious off-field incidents and a string of suspensions defined the first five seasons of his career, Jones had countless NFL and non-NFL people ready to toss him away. He was quickly becoming another cautionary tale of a talented, promising player who would lose it all because he hadn't matured.

Fast-forward to today, some two months after he signed a three-year, $22 million deal to stay in Cincinnati, and the story on Jones has been completely rewritten. He's now a study in how patience and second chances can pay off. These days, he's known more for what he does on the field than off it. He allowed just one touchdown in 2015.

Jones wants Jackson to one day be similarly respected around Cincinnati.

"My whole thing is lead by example," Jones said. "He'll see me working and he'll understand the mindset of the locker room and how we do things."

Trying to get better !!! Everyday #nodaysoff

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Jones' "no days off" approach to in- and out-of-season training has endeared him to Bengals fans on social media. Regularly this offseason he has posted photos and videos to Instagram showcasing him workouts inside the Bengals' gym. But those aren't only intended for his young teammates.

"I do the videos more for my kids to let them know this is the s--- that's going to have to happen," Jones said. "I have a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old. My 10-year-old is probably the best gymnast in the country. So when I do those things, it's to show the rest of these kids that this s--- don't happen overnight.

"I've been playing football since I was 5 years old. Everybody thinks, 'Oh, you can get rich overnight.' Well, maybe if you hit the lottery. But besides that, everybody's got to work for what they want. That's my point to my kids. They see everything that we've got at the house and don't see all the work that goes into it. But every day, my kids are on Instagram seeing what daddy's doing. That's why I do that."