When Lewis called to invite Jones to Cincinnati for a tryout, the 2009 season had just ended. At the time, the cornerback had been out of football for several months, having been cut by the Dallas Cowboys the previous offseason. His life was spiraling. His days were dark, the nights even darker, he said.
"The best way to describe it," Jones said on Le Betard's show, "is if you're stuck in the hole, and you don't have no one but God, and everyone turned their back on you, and you look up and it's light up at the [top of the] tunnel, but where you're standing at it's dark as hell."
Jones said his "hell" spanned much of his time in Dallas.
"The most scared I was when I left Dallas," Jones said. "Just because I didn't grow up and handle my business. I didn't play good. I was overweight and football wasn't fun at that time for me. I really had to dig deep when I left Dallas."
He said that season with the Cowboys felt like a "make believe" year. Though he appreciated Cowboys owner Jerry Jones giving him a chance, Adam Jones said the team wasn't coached quite the way others he's been on have been. He added that having round-the-clock security in Dallas made him feel like he was in jail.
"I was rebellious at that point of my life," Adam Jones told Le Betard and show co-host Jon "Stugotz" Weiner. "I was like, 'why do I have to be in jail?' basically. I didn't understand what Jerry was explaining. ... I was young and didn't understand the process. But you live and learn."
Now 32, Jones has changed. Between arrests and court dates, off-field issues were once a constant part of Jones' NFL life. Those troubles have largely since faded. In the six seasons he has been in Cincinnati, more has been written about what he's done on the field than off it. That's what the All-Pro had been hoping would happen all along.
During the interview, Jones and the show hosts laughed about the fact he was still playing and on a contending team to boot. Six years ago, those kinds of prospects were still a long shot.
"Deep down in my soul, even the year that I spent at home away from football , I always told my mom and myself that I'm going to get back at this," Jones said. "I had some trials and tribulations during those times, but you judge a man by what he can tell you about someone who goes through something that got something out of it. There's a lot of people that went through what I went through and are not able to talk about it."