When Hollywood makes a movie ‘inspired by a true story' they take the events of that story and twist them just enough to keep the audience engaged. They might take the story of Taiwan Jones' clinging rise from division I-AA obscurity to becoming an NFL draft pick only to toil on the bench and watch as his fledgling NFL career began to fizzle away.
The hook of the story, or the montage if you will, would be his switching positions from running back to cornerback to keep his NFL dream alive. Then the writers would add some details to spice up the story like having him playing for his hometown team and make his first game at the new position in front of friends and family. Then they might add a former high school teammate playing at the same position for the opposite team.
And to make the story complete, Taiwan would have to struggle a bit at first and then make a couple big plays in the end to the cheers of friends and family and the support of his veteran teammates as well as his former high school teammate. He would even be given a shot to show some of his world-class athletic talents in the kick return game.
That's what Hollywood might do. And in this case, they wouldn't even have to tweak the story. That's exactly what happened to Taiwan Jones Friday. Granted, the game didn't matter much but Jones' performance mattered greatly for his chances of staying in the NFL, playing for his hometown team.
Much like Jones' training camp, his game started off with a couple mistakes but by the end, he made some nice plays, including two pass breakups in a row, and no doubt got the attention of coaches and players.
"I feel pretty good. Sometimes where I messed up on my leverage so that last drive, that's what I focused on and it put me in a position to make plays. . . the longer I stayed in there, the better I felt. When I first got out there, it was kinda going a little fast and I was a little anxious to make plays and it started going a little slow but the more I was in there, the better I felt, the more comfortable I got.
"It counts in the end and I was able to make those plays in the end to help end the game so as long as I'm getting better, I'm happy with that."
Sterling Moore was once in the same position as Jones. Both spent four years together at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, east of Oakland. He went from there to SMU while Jones went to Eastern Washington. Moore then returned home as an undrafted free agent by the Raiders where he spent half a season on the team's practice squad before being cut. He's now with the Cowboys, close to where he went to college but his family is still in the Bay Area. And Friday, both players got to take the field like old times at Deer Valley High in front of friends and family.
"It's real crazy that we both made it to where we're at, we're both living our dreams, playing the same position, we came from the same place, so it's pretty good to see somebody else make it." Said Jones.
No good story would be complete without some good mentor characters. In this case you have Mike Jenkins who was out there Friday facing the team who cast him off as unwanted, and one savvy veteran, captain of the defense in Tyvon Branch.
"I talked to [Mike Jenkins] a little bit and he told me I left a few picks out there and just to focus on my leverage and getting my eyes right. And Tyvon, he told me I had a good game and they expect more from me. You know, they got high standards for me and I like it."
This comeback story is far from complete. But if this hometown boy is able to make good and keep his NFL dreams alive, this game made for a pretty fascinating chapter. I feel like I should be copyrighting this.