HOUSTON -- Some thought the sight of a player from the Houston Texans wandering around the field in Buffalo pregame without any shoes on was a sign the weather was warm.
It was warm, but that wasn't why Texans center Ben Jones was barefoot.
Ben Jones is always barefoot before games. Through rain, sleet or snow, Ben Jones is barefoot. Luckily, Jones is an Alabama native who played college football at Georgia and then was drafted by the Texans. So sleet and snow aren't part of Jones' regular football world. If they are, that doesn't change his plans.
Why? It all started because of a nap.
Do you remember the first time you did it?
Ben Jones: My brother came and woke me up. I was a sophomore and he’s like, 'Hey we gotta go walk the field.' I was a center and he was a quarterback. He was really superstitious. I was like, 'All right let me go get my shoes.' He was like, 'No we ain’t got time for that.' That’s how it started. It just carried on.
Was it ever cold?
Jones: Playoffs. Some games. We never wore shoes at home anyway. We only had one pair of shoes and we’d come home take off our shoes, take off our school clothes and play outside with no shoes on anyway.
So you would take naps at school before games?
Jones: Fourth block we had weightlifting. We’d watch film, we took a nap in the fourth block. The lights were out. It was usually a football movie on. Guys would sit around in there. Nap. Mainly just be quiet, and I always took a nap.
When did it go from a convenience thing to a conscious decision?
I think it was after the first one. We were playing a big school and we won. We hadn’t beat them in like 10 years. After that we kept everything the same. We ate at the same restaurant every Friday morning. We kept everything the same that whole year. Every year from then on we kind of did the same thing.
Have you ever worn shoes before a game since then?
Jones: Not football.
Did you ever want to put shoes on?
Jones: Cleveland last year. It was cold, snow was on the ground. It was pretty cold. We really don’t have many cold games. That one. I think Chicago my rookie year. Like 35 and raining. That was pretty bad. But after that it’s just like being in the cold tub. Your feet go numb after about two or three minutes anyway.
What’s the grossest your feet have been after walking around?
Jones: It’s usually our old field here. The grass was painted green by the end of the year. I’d come in my feet would be solid green. It was like, 'what is wrong with your feet?' I’d walk on the logo so my feet would be like green, blue, all different colors. (People asked) 'Why are your feet solid green?' (I said), 'Yeah they paint the grass solid green to make it look green.'
Has anyone ever said anything about you being barefoot? Opponents who aren't used to it?
Jones: Most people just know how I am. They always just say, 'oh that’s country.' Everybody knew how I was in college anyway, and it just kind of stuck ever since.
Good thing you played in the SEC
Jones: Exactly. I always look at the schedule when it comes out. Buffalo’s going to be cold. Cincinnati night game could be cold. Tennessee in December.
Buffalo wasn’t bad
Jones: No it wasn’t. it was like 35 degrees when I went out there.