Done with Twitter, done with critics, Pats CB Cyrus Jones hopes a revival is in the stars

Published: 8/31/2017 2:02:24 PM
Modified: 11/12/2008 3:10:12 PM
FOXBORORUGH, Mass. — Cyrus Jones is a Sagittarius.
We know this because his Twitter feed has told us nothing else since October 6, 2016. That’s when the Patriots’ cornerback, a second-round draft choice out of Alabama, went dark on the micro-blogging platform. Dark, except for a daily snippet of his horoscope, which appears to be automatically generated from a service called, “Twittascope.”
Until earlier this week, Jones was not aware that his astrological forecast had been tweeting into the void for the last 11 months. Casting aside his once active and at times combative social media presence, Jones’ account still exists, but he said he no longer accesses it.
“I don’t even have Twitter on my phone,” Jones said earlier this week. When asked why, he said, “It was just my decision.”
Jones’ last original Tweet (not including retweets or digital astrology) came on October 2, 2016, when he wrote: “They love you then they hate you then they love you again. My time coming....,Keep sleeping!”
Jones’ time has not yet arrived, but his Tweet was an ominously prescient forecast of the turmoil he’d face over the rest of the 2016 season. Jones endured one of the most memorably humbling rookie campaigns in recent NFL history, a year in which nothing seemed to go right for the bedazzling return man and press corner who’d become a college star for the Crimson Tide.
Even his greatest moment, a 43-yard kickoff return against the Seahawks, ended in disappointment, as Jones fumbled while being tackled from behind (teammate Nate Ebner recovered the loose ball). It was a characteristic error for the rookie Jones, who fumbled five times in his 19 kickoff/punt returns, to the point where he later told the Baltimore Sun that he felt “cursed.” 
The low point came in Week 14 against his hometown Baltimore Ravens when Jones attempted to let a punt bounce away, but instead lost track of a ball that did not lose track of him. Finding Jones’ foot as if it had eyes and mischievous intent, the ball bounced softly toward the Patriots’ end zone, and the Ravens recovered at the New England 5-yard-line. It was the only time the Patriots lost possession due to a Jones fumble last season, but he would field only one more punt the rest of the year. Jones was benched for five of the team’s final six games, and missed out the Patriots’ Super Bowl run. People may wonder why the Pats stuck by him so long, but here’s a 60-yard return from last year’s preseason that shows why New England is still believes in his potential.
Turning to a friendlier social media platform in February, Jones said in a since-deleted Instagram post that 2016 was one of the most challenging times in his life and that he felt, “disappointment, embarrassment and overall dissatisfaction” with his rookie season. Soon after, he told The Sun he didn’t feel like he had contributed to the Patriots’ championship. “I'll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to," Jones said. "I was part of the team, but I didn't feel a part of it.”
As if forecast from the stars, Jones’ departure from Twitter was nearly predicted by an anonymous NFL executive in the player’s 2016 draft profile.
“He may need to get his Twitter game in check because I think he lets some of that stuff get to him,” the unnamed executive said, “but it's just more fuel for his fire. He thinks everyone is always disrespecting him from media to the other team.”
If that’s true, then Jones may have been overloaded with fuel at the beginning of his rookie season. When things did not start out well, Twitter critics bombarded him with nasty comments, suggesting the Patriots had wasted an early pick. They called him a “bust” and compared him to Ted Ginn Jr., who was drafted ninth overall by the Dolphins, largely because of a return-game ability that has been solid, but never seemed to justify a top-10 selection.
It didn’t help that Jones was the first player the Patriots chose in the 2016 draft, which unfairly affected the way people perceived him. He was a late-second-round choice, but people (including his Twitter critics) tended to think of him a first-rounder. Further muddying the waters, some had the false impression that the pick New England used on Cyrus Jones was part of the deal that sent Pro-Bowl defensive end Chandler Jones to Arizona in 2016. This is not accurate, but prominent Boston media personalities amplified the misconception, thereby raising expectations on Jones.

A year later, Jones has yet to fumble a ball during a preseason game. He’s also shown more confidence, and has likely re-established himself as the team’s best option on punt returns. Most importantly and most indicative of his maturation in a post-Twitter existence, he says he’s finally learning to ignore the critics outside of the locker room.
“The people out there saying this and that, they're not important to me,” Jones said. “They're not out there on the field. They're not my teammates. They're not my coaches. They're not my family. They really don't mean anything. They're fair-weather fans. They're going to be with you when you're doing good, and as soon as you do something bad, they're on to the next.”
In February, Jones told The Sun that his disappointment had reached a point where he questioned whether he even wanted to play football. He now he's moved beyond that time, and surviving the adversity will make him a better player.
“Any time you have adversity, you can either bring out the best of you or reveal what your character is,” Jones said. “Last year was obviously a tough time for me, and it was difficult getting through that, but I’m past that, and it did nothing but make me strong.”
If Jones did have Twitter on his phone, he would see that people still contact him by responding to his horoscopes. While the posts from last December are predictably nasty, he might be pleased to learn that are still Patriots fans rooting for him to make it.

People have finally come to Twitter to cheer him on, but Jones isn't there to see it.

Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.

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