JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Creating holes for Fred Taylor and then Maurice Jones-Drew, Greg Jones proved to be one of the best fullbacks in the NFL for a decade.
He left an indelible mark on coaches and teammates — as well as opponents.
The former Battery Creek High and Florida State standout signed a ceremonial, one-day contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday and retired with the team that drafted him in 2004.
“Ten years have flown by,” Jones said. “It’s been a time of happiness and grief, where I’ve gotten knocked on my butt both figuratively and literally.”
A second-round pick out of Florida State, Jones played in 115 games during his nine years in Jacksonville. He spent the 2013 season with Houston and went to training camp with New Orleans last year before getting cut.
Jones finished with 913 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
He was best known for his tenacious blocking — and toughness.
“I never saw him lose a fight,” former teammate and retired center Brad Meester said. “I remember him getting in several scuffles, even in games, and he always came out on top. I remember a game in Pittsburgh and one of their players literally had him down on the ground.
“You could see Greg on the ground, guy on top of him, and he would use his sheer strength to lift himself off the ground with a guy on him and fight him off. I have never seen anything like that before. He’s a tough, tough player that never quit, and that is what made him so special.”
Jones missed the 2006 season with a torn knee ligament. He returned the following year and paved the way for a rushing attack that ranked second in the NFL. That year, Jones was selected as the first alternate for the Pro Bowl.
“It’s funny because people would talk trash to me when Greg wasn’t on the field,” Jones-Drew said. “They wouldn’t say too much when he was out there. It just showed you his presence. People wanted to get him out of his game, but Greg did a great job of dominating people whistle to whistle.”
“He would just move on to the next play. Every once in a while he would get into a scuffle. ... That mindset and that attitude, there’s always someone that thinks they are just as tough as you. Greg would go out there and show them.”
The 33-year-old Jones would like to coach in the league or be involved in the personnel side of things.
“I love the game of football and I want to be around it,” he said. “I’ve done some networking with teams with the hope of landing something, but it’s a tough field to get into.”
Jones plans to continue living in Jacksonville, which drafted him as a running back out of college but moved him to fullback.
“Selflessness and humility are two character traits that come to mind when I think of G,” Taylor said. “He could have easily rebelled when the coaches decided to move him to fullback.
“There’s no real glory in that position, but G swallowed his pride and always gave a hundred percent effort and attention to detail in the classroom and on the practice field. A huge piece of my success from over a five-year span was due to Greg.”
As a Battery Creek senior, Jones rushed for 1,612 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning all-state honors and a Shrine Bowl bid as a linebacker.