Chicago Bears Traditions

Bears in The Hall

Stan Jones

Stan Jones was considered one of the best at his business during the 13 seasons he played as an offensive and defensive lineman with the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins in the National Football League. His name appeared regularly on the annual all-league teams and he was a frequent visitor to the Pro Bowl.

Even though he gained a more-than-normal type of visibility because he played on a perennial championship contender in Chicago, his credentials were seemingly forgotten when it came to consideration in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jones truly believed that pro football's ultimate honor had passed him by so his election to the Hall as the Seniors Committee nominee in January, 1991, was startling, but welcome news.

On July 27, he will join four other members of the 1991 class-Earl Campbell, John Hannah, Tex Schramm and Jan Stenerud-for impressive inductee rites on the front steps of the pro grid pantheon in Canton.

"I hadn't played for so long I had to do some research on myself," Jones quipped when he learned of his election. "I was surprised at some of the things I found."

What Jones and the Hall of Fame Selection Board that elected him discovered was a long record of outstanding accomplishments during a pro football career that began when he was the future draft choice of the Bears in 1953. He played for Chicago for 12 seasons from 1954 to 1965 and then wound up his tenure with the 1966 Redskins.

Jones was so impressive as a two-way tackle at Maryland that the Bears decided to use a 1953 fifth-round draft pick to obtain his services even though they knew he would not be available for a full year.

It turned out to be a master move because the 6-1, 250-pounder became a consensus all-American tackle his senior season. Jones was one of the leaders on a Terrapin team that was named by both Associated Press and United Press as the mythical national collegiate champion. He received the Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy as the nation's outstanding lineman. A quarter of a century later in 1977, his brilliance was recognized when he was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference's 25-year All-Star team.

After starting for the 1954 College All-Stars against the NFL champion Detroit Lions, Jones joined the Bears and was immediately inserted in the lineup as an offensive tackle.

Jones started every game but his 6-1 height was not ideal for the position that called for him to block the tall, speedy pass-rushing defensive ends. So the next season he was moved to the left guard, where he stayed the next eight seasons.

The Chicago Bears had suffered through a miserable 3-8-1 season in 1953 but improved to 8-4-0 in Stan's rookie season in 1954. While Jones was only one reason for the team's improvement, the Bears became perennial championship challengers who enjoyed winning records nine of the next 12 seasons.

When they won the NFL Western Conference championship in 1956, the Bears, with Jones as one of the key blockers, average 30 points and 206 yards rushing and scored 22 rushing touchdowns in a 12-game season. But in the title game that year, they were overwhelmed by the New York Giants, 47-7.

During that period, Jones was establishing himself as one of the premier players at possibly the most obscure position on a football team. A good pass blocker and respected as a pulling guard, Jones was disciplined, dependable and intelligent.

"No one seems to know what the guards are doing," Jones says. "They don't keep a record of your blocks. I did have one advantage. In those days, we used to do a lot of pulling. People could see more of what we were doing."

So it was that all-league selection and Pro Bowl selections that became Stan's vehicle for being remembered. From 1955 through 1961, Jones was named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls. He was a starter four times. Although there was a host of standout guards in the NFL at the time, Stan was selected first- or second-team all-NFL by major wire services more times than any other at his position in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was the first-team all NFL pick in 1955, 1956, 1959, and 1960 and second all-NFL in 1957 and 1961.

For several years, Jones served as the Bears' offensive captain. "He was a leader, somebody you look up to," said Fred Williams, the defensive tackle who played along side Jones later in his career. "I'll tell you one thing, he could lift the side of a house. He was one strong son of a gun."

Jones' great strength did not come about by accident, but by a carefully-planned weight-lifting program he began in high school. He was the first athlete of note to lift weights to hone his body into playing condition. Weight lifting was not in vogue in the 1950s and many cautioned Stan that he was taking a career-threatening risk with his weight-lifting. They warned him that he might become muscle-bound and lose his mobility if he continued the practice. Jones, however, had been a disciple of weight-lifting too long to listen to what anyone said.

Born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on November 24, 1931, Stan grew up in the Harrisburg area after his father, a telephone company employee, was transferred to that area.

Jones began his football career as a 140-pound freshman at Lemoyne, PA, High School. That's when he began lifting weights and he steadily increased his weight about 20 pounds a year until he entered the University of Maryland as a strong, agile line prospect. He was a two-way standout during a three-year period when the Terrapins were one of America's dominant college elevens.

"If I hadn't lifted weights," Jones insists, "I probably wouldn't have become a pro football player. It really helped me recover from the bruises after every game."

He also credits weight-lifting for his record for never having missed a game because of injury in 22 years of organized football. As a silent endorsement of his methods, Stan's weight-lifting program soon caught on with a number of his NFL contemporaries, including a pair of talented but comparatively small guards, Duane Putnam of the Los Angeles Rams and Jack Stroud of the New York Giants. Both put on an additional 20 to 30 pounds and thus lengthened their careers.

In 1962, the Bears badly needed reinforcements on their defensive line and the team's defensive coordinator, George Allen, decided that Jones, with his background as a two-way player in college, would fit in nicely. On defense, Allen reasoned, Jones' great strength and football intelligence could be valuable assets. While Stan had lost some of his speed, he still retained his quickness.

The first year, Jones divided his time between offensive guard and the defensive line but, in 1963, he became a full-time defensive tackle. He was the starting left tackle on a front four that included Williams at the other tackle and Ed O'Bradovich and Doug Atkins at the ends.

Atkins welcomed Jones to the defensive unit because that meant he wouldn't have to play against him, even in practice. "Boy, he was a load," Doug said of Stan. "His stature made it difficult for anyone who played against him. To put it mildly, he was a hard guy to move around."

"I never really had to play against him but I remember one time in a scrimmage I was going against him. That was tough. He was just as strong as he could be. He was a great one."

The 1963 Bears defense led the NFL in 10 of 19 defensive categories and held opponents to just seven rushing touchdowns and a 10-point-per-game average. The NFL championship game was billed as a battle the Giants' potent offense and the Bears' stingy defense. The defense prevailed by forcing six turnovers in a 14-10 Chicago victory. New York quarterback Y.A. Tittle, the NFL player of the Year in 1963, was intercepted five times. Jones calls it his greatest pro football thrill.

The switch back to defense after so many years as an offensive lineman was comparatively difficult, Jones remembers. "It was a little strange. I never saw so many guys coming at me at once. Once I went in and nobody touched me. I was so surprised I didn't know what to do."

Eventually, Jones became quite comfortable at the job of stopping runners instead of blocking for them. "On offense, you are limited," he said. "You have more freedom on defense. You can dish it out for a change."

In Allen's new defensive alignment, Stan's primary responsibility was run control. Basically, he was expected to guard against the rushing plays while the defensive ends thundered in to harass and tackle the passer.

As a role model for his new assignment, Jones chose Artie Donovan, the Baltimore Colts' Hall of Fame defensive tackle.

"He was always the toughest defensive tackle for me to block," Jones recalls. "Donovan was not only big, he was quick. He was like a matador. He'd move one way and go the other. Art was the smartest tackle I ever faced. He was the man who covered for Gino Marchetti when Gino rushed the passer."

Stan was a play-every-game fixture on the defensive unit for more then two more years and then retired from the Bears after his 12th season in 1965. He was planning to become a teacher near his home in Rockville, Maryland. Just before the Redskins opened training camp in 1966, Coach Otto Graham called Jones to ask him if he would play one more season.

Jones was interested but he had to clear it with the Bears. As a reward for 12 years of honorable service to the Bears, owner George Halas agreed to trade him to the Redskins for defensive end John Paluck.

"We made the deal as a favor to Stan. He lived near Washington and though he had advised me he was retiring after 12 years with us, he recently showed some interest in playing another season but only if he could play near his home," Halas explained. Besides wanting to play near his home, Stan also wanted to play for the right price.

"I was asking the Redskins for the moon, about $19,000," Jones remembered. "I was making $14,000 with the Bears. I didn't think I would get it, but they said yes. And after I made the team, they gave me a $1,000 bonus. I was on top of the world."

Jones played in 13 games for the 1966 Redskins and then quit football for what he thought would be forever. Such was not to be. The next year, he began a lengthy tenure as a pro football assistant coach which has seen him serve two terms with the Denver Broncos and one each with the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. Early in 1991, he joined the New England Patriots coaching staff.

Jones became the 22nd long-term member of the Chicago Bears to be enshrined. But the list of guards in the Hall is short. Only Gene Upshaw and John Hannah, who also were elected in 1991, were guards throughout their careers. Jim Parker divided his NFL time equally between guard and tackle. Jones thus becomes just the fourth guard to enter the Hall.

He probably would agree that kind of exclusivity has made his long-awaited Hall of Fame election even more special.