Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo and Justin Rogers break down the Lions' offense after minicamps.
Allen Park — Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones is a man of many talents. When he’s not hauling in deep passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford, you might find Jones in the recording studio in his basement, laying down some soulful R&B tracks with a voice that landed him a shot at “American Idol.”
He and his wife Jazmyn also just opened up a new business, a Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise in Troy.
But all of all the things in Jones’ life, he takes the most pride in being a father to his four young children, Marvin III, 9; Mareon, 6; Murrell, 3; and Mya, 1.
Fatherhood comes naturally to Jones, 28, who isn't afraid to admit he's a big kid. Outside of the television in the living room, which regularly hosts family video game battles, you won’t find anything of value hanging from the walls on Jones’ home in the San Diego area.
“We don’t have anything hanging up because we’re always throwing balls around the house,” Jones said. “We don’t have any paintings, nothing. The TV is probably the only thing we can break and that’s just how it’s always been. We throw footballs in the living room. You have limits everywhere in life, but there’s no limits in the house.”
The house’s smooth concrete basement has been converted into a miniature roller rink. Jones and the kids will strap on the skates, turn up the music and do laps around the support beams. How many parents would allow that?
“We’d go to the skating rink and the kids would go with us, so we play music down there, have lights and skate down there,” Jones said. “There are marks everywhere, but we don’t care. What are we going to do?”
Jones’ yard is also the destination location for the neighborhood kids. What 10-year old wouldn’t want to catch passes from an NFL player who plays all-time quarterback.
“It’s go, go, go, hurry-up all the time, so I can tire them out,” he said.
Jones’ credits his active parenting approach to his own upbringing, saying he's following in his own father's footsteps. Family get-togethers with his brother and two sisters can still be competitive affairs.
Jones’ oldest child, who shares his namesake, is a spitting image of his father. And like his dad, the younger Marvin is a star athlete in the making. Naturally, he and Marion are already testing their skills on the gridiron, in an NFL FLAG football league, and dad is making sure they're getting the best tutelage, serving as an assistant coach on the team.
And here’s the kicker, Jones isn’t the only NFL player with a kid on the team or with a clipboard on the sideline. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is the offensive coordinator and his son Gunner is the quarterback.
Jones joked that Gunner can already handle some throws many college quarterbacks can’t make.
“It’s been really fun getting to know Marvin over the last few years, coaching our sons together,” the elder Rivers said. “It’s been neat to see his passion for the game, his knowledge for the game. And then to share that with our boys, you can see what an awesome dad he is.”
On the defensive side, Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle works with the unit while son Gaige plays linebacker.
“It’s awesome,” Weddle said. “It’s what you envision as a parent, to have a son and then be able to coach them.”
Jones, predictably, coaches the team’s receivers, but pitches in wherever he can. He’s been amazed at the practice routines and concepts the kids are able to process.
“Basically, everything we do is professional, in terms of the practices,” Jones said. “We have our route line, we start with routes. We have installs, where we install plays, and these kids are eight and nine and they get it like that. We say, ‘Line up in 31 Thunder,’ and they’re like, ’31 Thunder, switch,’ boom, boom. We can even do in-game adjustments and stuff like that because these kids take the information so well.”
Rivers has said in the past that he wants to coach his son in high school. That’s a vision Jones and Weddle share.
“We’ve talked about our sons growing up and going to the same high school, coaching them in high school and building a dynasty together,” Weddle said. “It’s fun to have a vision and idea for your son and have someone else share it, see the same things and have the same values. It’s pretty special.”