Len Pasquarelli

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Thursday, November 28
Tailback Jones broke hand answering the phone

By Len Pasquarelli

Here's hoping Thomas Jones has one of those discount long-distance carriers, because the Arizona Cardinals' tailback might need it to recoup his losses from a very expensive phone call last Friday night.

Cardinals management has decided it will not pay Jones his base salary for the final five games of this season, $135,000, after he broke his right hand answering the phone at his home. Jones underwent surgery Tuesday and he was placed on the non-football injury list, ending his season.

The Cardinals opted not to place Jones on injured reserve and that decision is significant. Teams are not liable for a player's salary if he sustains an injury that is not related to football.

Jones, 24, has a base salary of $459,000 for 2002, and the $135,000 that will be withheld represents five-seventeenths of that.

The telephone incident, in which Jones said he broke his hand on a counter top, is the latest setback for the former first-round draft choice.

Arizona chose the former University of Virginia standout with the seventh overall selection in the 2000 draft. He signed a four-year, $7.4 million contract that included a signing bonus of $5.7 million.

But his career has been star-crossed from the outset, with Jones suffering a series of injuries in each of his first two seasons, and failing to live up to his potential. This marks the third straight year in which he entered the season as the starter but failed to keep the job because of injury or lack of production.

Jones started nine games this season and rushed 138 times for 511 yards, both career highs, along with two touchdowns. His career resume includes 362 carries for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns. Jones has appeared in 39 games and has started 15 of them.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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