“It was a whirlwind. I was sitting in Vegas helping my dad coach an AAU basketball team when I got the call at about 7:45 that night. I had to hop right on a plane to get to practice the next day.” Jones said.
With 30 minutes of sleep (at most, he says) and a bag sparsely filled with a few pairs of gym shorts and basketball sneakers, Jones arrived on the doorstep of Bills Training Camp, ready to accept the invitation that came not 12 hours before to play tight end for the Buffalo Bills.
“Got on the red-eye at about 11:15 p.m.,” he said. “Got to Pittsford at 11:15 the next morning. Did a workout, signed and then went to practice. My mind was just rolling. It was a crazy situation but it all worked out.”
Though Jones’ Vegas to Pittsford story is unique, dropping everything to start what amounts to a new life – for a few weeks at the very least – is not uncommon in the NFL.
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Landon Cohen was about to head to work when he got the call.
“I have a valet parking company and we actually had an event that night, so I had to wait until the next morning to come. I had just been just working out,” he said.
Cohen stayed busy in the offseason, having taken up Brazilian jujitsu alongside his regular workouts and valet parking duties in his Spartanburg, SC home. But he said he knew a team would come calling when football season approached, so he was mentally ready to pick up and get to Pittsford when his name was called.
“It used to be more of a scramble,” said Cohen, who’s played for six teams since 2008. “It’s not like when you’re a young kid and they call you and say they need you right now. I take my time and I get my belongings ready. The worst is coming here and forgetting sneakers or something you need to get things done.”
He’d worked out for the Bills during OTAs this offseason so the destination wasn’t a complete surprise, but in the business where one day’s notice is the norm, he didn’t expect to so quickly be getting on a plane due north from his home in St. Petersburg, FL.
“Mentally I was already gone but physically I was still home,” he said. “It was a pretty good feeling because I never got settled when I was home so I was always prepared to leave again. I knew there was a good chance I’d get an opportunity somewhere, I just didn’t know where so I had to be prepared and patient.”
Preparation and patience were echoed amongst the newly signed Bills, because while packing for a new life takes more than a day and a heaping amount of mental toughness for the average person, potential NFL players are always just one phone call away from another shot at their dream.
"It was pretty tough to get up and go, but it’s the nature of the game to be at home one day and they call you up and the next day you gotta go," said Bills CB
Business as usual continues for these and a number of their new teammates on their journies to make sure that when the Bills call, they come flying, and stay.