Jones goes from middle of the line to Hall of Fame Powerful blocker led Terps, Bears to titles


It always has been a football way of life -- linemen do the dirty work, and the backs get all the glory. Youngsters have grown up wanting to be John Unitas, Joe Namath, Walter Payton. Nobody grows up wanting to be a guard.

When Stan Jones and John Hannah are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tomorrow in Canton, Ohio, they will double the number of offensive guards among the 160 members of the Hall of Fame, a group dominated by backs.

Even Jones, a former University of Maryland All-American, says that it's hard to follow offensive linemen.

"No one seems to know what the guards are doing," he said recently. "They don't keep a record of your blocks."

Jones' record, though, shows an outstanding 13-year career with the Chicago Bears (1954-65) and Washington Redskins (1966). Jones, primarily an offensive guard but also a defensive lineman, was an All-NFL first-team selection four times and named to the Pro Bowl in seven consecutive seasons (1955-61).

Jones, the Hall of Fame Seniors Committee's nominee, said he wasn't expecting to be elected.

"I was nominated before, got myself all excited, and then nothing xTC happened. I fortified myself this time. I knew I was under consideration, but didn't want to get too emotionally involved," Jones, the New England Patriots defensive line coach, said this week from training camp.

The others to be enshrined with Jones and Hannah are running back Earl Campbell, place-kicker Jan Stenerud and former Dallas Cowboys executive Tex Schramm. Cowboys

Jones, who played under coach Jim Tatum at Maryland during 1951-53, was so impressive at offensive tackle as a sophomore and junior that the Bears used a fifth-round draft choice to obtain rights to him before his senior season. Then the two-platoon system was sacked, and Jones thrived as an offensive and defensive lineman for the Terrapins.

A consensus All-America tackle as a senior, Jones, 6 feet 1, 250 pounds, was cited by one organization as the nation's outstanding college lineman.

"The pros had a 33-man roster at the time I entered the league, so we all had to double up," Jones said. "My rookie season, the team only had five offensive linemen. I remember a game against the Colts in 1955 where I went both ways, and was in on practically every series, including special teams."

Such endurance was partly the result of working out with weights, a rarity at the time. It was thought weight-lifting would make athletes muscle-bound. But Jones had begun lifting when he was growing up near Harrisburg, Pa.

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

It also helped him not miss a game because of injury in 22 years of organized football. And that's not to mention his strength.

In "The Terrapins," a book on the history of Maryland football, Tatum told of how, in a game against Georgia, Jones, playing defense, burst through the line on a pass play and knocked a blocker back into quarterback Zeke Bratkowski. Both Georgia players had to leave the game, and Jones went back to his position as though nothing had happened.

"He's so strong he can move an entire line out of the way on a block," Tatum said. "I can't conceive of any player being stronger, and he is the most devastating blocker I ever saw."

Chet Hanulak, perhaps Maryland's most exciting runner, remembers one example of Jones' strength: "Dick Modzelewski [Maryland's Outland Trophy winner in 1952] was a defensive tackle, shorter but heavier, and strong. During practices, Stan would do push-ups, at least 10 of them, with Dick on his shoulders."

During his time with the Bears, Jones spent several years as the team's offensive captain. Fred Williams, a defensive tackle, said: "He was a leader, somebody you looked up to. And he could lift the side of a house."

Jones was an integral part of successful teams at Maryland and in Chicago.

"He was always prepared, physically and mentally, for every game," recalled teammate Jack Scarbath, an All-America quarterback for the

Terrapins. "He was always focused on his performance. He spent hours looking at films at a time when only the quarterbacks and defensive signal-callers put in that extra work. It was a work ethic that he carried into the pros."

In Jones' sophomore year, Maryland went 10-0 and defeated No. 1-ranked Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl, 28-13. As a junior, the Terrapins went 7-2, and, in his last year, Maryland went 10-0, was named national champion, then lost to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 7-0.

In nine of Jones' 12 seasons with the Bears, the team had winning seasons. Twice, they went to the NFL championship game, meeting the New York Giants each time. In 1956, the Giants won, 47-7, and in 1963, the Bears won, 14-10.

The 1956 team (9-2-1), with Jones on offense, averaged 30 points and more than 200 rushing yards a game, and the 1963 team (11-1-2), with Jones on defense, led the NFL in 10 defensive categories, including limiting opposing teams to an average of 10 points.

Within a year of retiring as a player, Jones began another career as an assistant coach, one that has taken him to Denver, Buffalo and Cleveland before moving to New England last winter.

Jones recalls the opening game of the 1963 season as one of his biggest thrills.

"It was the Green Bay Packers, and the day before the game, Bill Gleason, a Chicago sportswriter, summarized his thoughts on the Bears, and the one thing he questioned was the team starting a school teacher [Jones] and an artist [Bob Kilcullen] at left tackle and left end [on defense].

"We saw Gleason at dinner that night, and Kilcullen says, 'I just want you to know we'll show up.' I tried to keep him quiet, because I figured we were going to have enough problems. After all, we were going against Jerry Kramer, Forrest Gregg and Jim )) Taylor, among others. They ran right at us, and we beat them, 10-3. The next day, Gleason wrote a poem and paid tribute to the two of us."

Now, it is Kilcullen's turn to pay tribute to Jones. An eight-year pro out of Texas Tech, Kilcullen will be the presenter at the induction ceremonies.

"I was stunned and thrilled when Stan asked me," Kilcullen said from his Frisco, Texas, home. "He's been coaching in the league every year since he retired as a player. I thought he'd know somebody from those years that he would want to do it.

"All his football abilities aside, though, it's nice to see good people recognized. He's one of the wonderful people walking this earth."

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad