The golf cart swung onto the sidewalk and out stepped a man, 61 years old with salty hair and bad knees. “Alexandria City Public Schools,” read the badge around his neck, which dangled next to a gold cross. “Security officer,” read his polo shirt, underneath the red T.C. Williams High School jacket, which covered the walkie-talkie labeled, “P. Jones.”
It was another school year, another football season, another day defined by the movie that made him famous. Thomas “Petey” Jones had held this job for almost a quarter-century and this morning, as they all did, began by marking down when the school buses arrived. But he had time, so Jones waited inside the cart, radio tuned to a gospel station, and looked at pictures on his cellphone.
There were his three grown children, all graduates of T.C. Williams, too, though none had been state champions like their father. And his dog, Gizmo, born around the filming of “Remember the Titans,” the 2000 movie based on the school’s 1971 football team on which Jones played linebacker after switching over from running back. And now here, off the buses, came another crop of high school students who first learned the celluloid image of teenage Petey Jones — the flirtatious, confident, athletic portrayal by actor Donald Faison — and then met the real man, who patrolled the hallways and caught them sneaking to McDonald’s for lunch.