FOXBORO (CBS) — Mac Jones won over his Patriots teammates and fans alike rather quickly, and it's not just for his solid play on the football field. It's not hard for a rookie quarterback taking over as the face of a franchise to grow his following, but it's how Jones has done it that makes it even more impressive.
While he's shown that he has the arm and football IQ to be the franchise quarterback for the Patriots, Jones has already taken a strong hold over the New England locker room as well. He's displayed an incredible level of leadership for a 23-year-old, which has not been lost on his veteran teammates.
What has impressed them most, though, is the selflessness that Jones shows every day. He could have easily come into Foxboro and expected it to be "The Mac Jones Show," especially after he beat out veteran quarterback Cam Newton for the starting gig.
But for Jones, all he cares about is that the Patriots win football games. It's why he had zero interest Sunday afternoon when his teammates tried to give him the football from his first career touchdown pass. For Jones, there was a lot of football left to be played against the Miami Dolphins, and his focus was on winning that game — not a souvenir for his trophy room.
Jones continuing to stand tall in the pocket with a heavy Miami pass rush in his face throughout Sunday's 17-16 loss was not lost on his teammates. Jones' willingness to take a beating in his professional debut was another level of his selflessness on full display.
"He's super selfless," tight end Hunter Henry said Wednesday. "Standing in those pockets and taking those shots and throwing the ball, it shows a lot to the linemen, to us receivers. That's big time."
It wasn't always this way, as Jones explained Wednesday when asked about his selfless approach during his media session in Foxboro.
"It comes back to just my family and kind of what they've instilled in me. Just always being a team player, and I wasn't necessarily that way when I was really young. I can honestly say that sometimes it was more about me than other people, and that's not how it should be," said Jones. "Ever since, I mean that was when I was really young, but ever since then, I just made it more about the team because that makes it more fun.
"It's not about me, and it never will be, and it shouldn't be," Jones added. "Obviously being a quarterback, everyone wants to hype you up and give you all this and that, and sometimes you need to take more blame than they give you and things like that. So I've always just tried to be humble and stuff. It just works out in the long run, and that's the best way to be the best teammate you can be.
As Jones said, he wasn't always this way. He was an ultra competitive kid because he was trying to live up to his older siblings, and growing up in a family of tennis players, Jones took a "me first" approach from the court to the football field when he first started out.
But he quickly realized that if he was going to get involved in team sports — and be successful at them — then being selfless was an extremely important trait to have. Making the approach even more impressive is that he changed his ways around the age of six.
If you've ever tried to convince a six-year-old to do something differently, then you know that Mac's transition at such a young age is nothing short of remarkable.
"We always competed really hard and I always wanted to win everything," he said of growing up. "Then once I got into team sports, you know, my family's kind of a tennis family, so that's individual. Obviously it's you against one person or you and one other person against two people, so you have to learn how to be a good teammate, and I learned that early on. When you can do that with people around you, it just makes it more fun."
And that has been the way that Jones has approached football ever since. It's led to a lot of winning on the field, and a lot of winning teammates over in the locker room.
"Everyone at some point, I feel like they learn that. They should learn that because you just want to be a great teammate in whatever sport or whatever you're doing in life," said Jones.
Now Jones is focused on getting that first career win Sunday afternoon when the Patriots visit the 0-1 New York Jets.
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