Seeing as the Louis Wright post was so popular, I thought I'd post another one for the 80's, the decade wherein I was born and became a Broncos fanatic, about Rulon Jones.
Jones is special to me because as many of you know, I am a Utahn. We have never had a pro football team of our own so we are so grateful that the Broncos are epic and worthy of being broadcast on Salt Lake City television stations. It is why I am so excited to go to the Broncos-Seahawks game August 7, especially since I am so close to Interstate 70, it's really an easy drive over.
Jones, a native of Liberty, Utah and graduate of Weber High School in Pleasant View, Utah, north of Ogden, starred at Logan-based Utah State University, an underrated football school which has sent the likes of Merlin Olsen and Anthony Calvillo into the ranks of North American professional football as well as former Broncos nose tackle Greg Kragen.
Additionally, Jones was coached at USU by Bruce Snyder, who would later coach Broncos fan-favorite Jake Plummer as a collegian at Arizona State, so connections run deep once again between Broncos at varying times in the franchise's history.
Interestingly, in a New York Times article from November 23, 1986, Jones said he was less than thrilled that the Cleveland Browns had designs of taking him in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft.
As a true son of the Mountain Time Zone, he was jubilant that the Broncos took him with the #42 overall selection in the 2nd round, incidentally directly before Matt Millen who went on to have a successful NFL career with the Raiders, 49ers and Redskins.
From 1980-1988, Jones spent his entire career with the Broncos, starting 99 of a possible 129 games in that span, posting 52.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and scored three safeties, one of the most prolific scoring defenders in defensive line history, no question!
Incidentally, his penchant for safeties correlates with my first connection with him as during the 1986 AFC Divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots, he sacked QB Tony Eason in the end zone for the clinching score in a 22-17 victory.
I remember Olsen, who was doing the game with Dick Enberg for NBC, was excited that a fellow Utahn and Aggie had made the game-clinching play to ensure victory and as I heard that he was from Utah, that made me proud. This is how the die was cast for my Bronco fanhood, Utah and the Broncos are a match made in heaven amid orange and blue skies.
Jones was named to the 1985 and 1986 Pro Bowls as well, while named the United Press International Player of the Year in the AFC on the defensive side in 1986, when he posted a career-high 13.5 sacks, joining Seahawks tailback Curt Warner, who received offensive awards that year.
As Lee Benson of the Deseret News of Salt Lake City confirmed in a 1989 article he left the NFL with his health and money intact, thus making him an immediate example for how the players of today should leave the gridiron, at least financially-speaking.
Today, Jones is still in northern Utah and can be found hunting in the mountains of southern Utah, especially Boulder Mountain, which is close to both Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park and has shown youngsters how to play the game properly, as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwYmKCS9v-k.
In closing, thanks Rulon, for helping me to be a Broncos fan, we Utahns await the next great product of the Beehive State to suit up for the Broncos!