The way Anthony Patch vividly remembers it, Sidney Jones was on the last drill of a March 11 Pro Day workout at the University of Washington that was, Patch says now, "such a good workout" and everything changed in an instant. Jones crumbled to the ground turning up the field coming out of a backpedal and everyone knew it was awful: a torn Achilles tendon and a football career suddenly turned upside down.
"All of the air came out of the building," said Patch, the Eagles' director of college scouting, among the 50 or so NFL scouts in attendance. "I felt awful for the kid."
Jones, projected to be among the top 15 players selected in Thursday night's first round of the draft, faced immediate surgery and, thus, some extreme adversity. Patch knows a thing or two about adversity, so he did what he felt was right, and on Monday after that Saturday workout Patch handwrote a letter to Jones at a California address offering solace and a helping hand.
Four days later, Jones called Patch to thank him for the message and the two had a heart-felt conversation.
"I'm thinking, 'This is a special kid to do that.' I sent the letter to California, which I think happened to be his grandfather's house and four days later Sidney is calling me from Seattle. We just hit it off. My thing to him was, 'When adversity hits you, as it has hit me, you have to get over the hump, because there's a plan in place for you and you're going to bounce back and make the most of it.'"
The letter came to light on Friday when Jones mentioned it during his conference call with Philadelphia reporters after the Eagles selected him 43rd overall in the draft.
"I thought it was pretty awesome," said Jones, who had received a lot of get-well-soon messages, but "nothing like a handwritten letter."
What Jones didn't know is that Patch has battled a cancerous brain tumor since 2007, had it recur in 2015, and had the tumor removed again. He has been clean since that time.
"Having a positive attitude helps so much and having those messages meant a lot to me," Patch said. "I just felt writing a letter by hand was the right thing to do so I did it. We remained in touch after Sidney had surgery, how-you-doing conversations, basically.
"It was awesome that we got him. I told him that day that it was all going to work out. This kid was one of the players in our groupings at the 14th pick before the injury. He'll get all the way back. It's just a matter of time. I'm pumped."
At the NFL Scouting Combine, CB Sidney Jones did a portrait session. Get a different look at the No. 43 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft ...