And the 2009 tourist insists he is a lucky man to get another crack at Test level in Saturday's Six Nations showdown with Scotland in Cardiff.
"It was one of the most stupid and idiotic acts I have ever done on a rugby field and I thought it would jeopardise my international career," said Jones, who featured in six games on the Lions' summer tour of South Africa, including all three Tests.
"You have to have that view when you make such a mistake because the opportunities to play Test rugby are few and far between.
"I am fortunate but I've been given this second opportunity now. I don't want to try too hard because that's when you make silly mistakes but I obviously want to put some wrongs right."
Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards, who was also part of the tour to South Africa, confronted Jones in the dressing room following the costly sin-binning and warned him never to repeat his actions.
Then Gatland publicly branded Jones 'stupid' after the incident allowed England to run into a 17-point lead - and claim victory.
But Gatland believes the incident at HQ has been put firmly behind them.
"It was dealt with straight away in the dressing room and is dead and buried," explained the Welsh coach.
"Everyone makes mistakes and I'm sure he and the other players will learn from it. Sometimes you get away with having 14 men, but we didn't."
But Jones himself accepts the Welsh management were correct to single him out for punishment.
"Shaun and Warren were right with what they said," added Jones.
"When Warren first came in he said he would be honest with the players. It is refreshing and I respect him for saying it.
"It's a cut-throat mentality we haven't had before and Gats has brought that off-field southern hemisphere cutting edge. Hopefully that will pay dividends for us."
As well as a dressing down from the Welsh management, Jones has received a volley of abuse on social networking sites and jibes from his team-mates.
"It is disheartening when you see people vilified but it's amazing how one act can eclipse everything else.
"I knew the aftermath would be dour but people are entitled to their opinion. I'm sure the abusive messages will spur me on."