William "Dub" Jones
Induction Year: 1982
In 1950, when the Cleveland Browns moved from the All-American Football Conference to the National Football League, schedule-makers wasted no time testing the new kids on the block.
The Brown’s first NFL game was a Saturday night game with the Philadelphia Eagles one day before the other teams opened their seasons—a match up of the defending champions of both the NFL and the defunct AAFC.
“It was like the first Super Bowl,” William "Dub" Jones recalled later. “Two league champions, with a crowd of nearly 90,000 people. It was probably the biggest game I’d played in my life.”
He scored the first touchdown on a 59-yard pass from Otto Graham and set up the final touchdown by turning another Graham pass into a 57-yard gain as the Browns rolled past the defending champions, 35-10.
When Paul Brown died in the summer of 1991, he was remembered as one of the great innovators in National Football League history. None of his innovations had as much impact on the game as the position he created for William A. “Dub” Jones—flanker back. It revolutionized the game by introducing the concept of three wide receivers.
Jones was the prototype flanker back because he was equally effective as a runner and pass receiver.
Dub Jones led Coach L.J. “Hoss” Garrett’s Ruston High Bearcats to the state football championship in 1941, and played at both LSU and Tulane during World War II—switching schools because of the wartime V-12 training program.
He won All-American honors as a junior at Tulane in 1944, and was preparing to return to LSU for his final year of eligibility when the Miami Seahawks made him an offer he couldn’t refuse-$12,000 a year.
Miami sank in a sea of red ink after winning only three of 14 games, needing financial aid from other clubs to finish the season. Jones was sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Playing with a cast on one hand in an injury-plagued 1947 season, Jones saw more action at defensive back than he did on offense. But Brown was impressed with the long-legged speedster from North Louisiana. He traded former Michigan All-American Bob Chappius, who had been runner-up to Jonny Lujack in 1947 Heisman Trophy voting, to the Dodgers for Jones.
It was announced as a straight trade. Until he read Brown’s autobiography 25 years later, Jones didn’t know the Dodgers also threw in $25,000 cash. Brown called it the best deal he ever made.
In a 10-year pro career, Jones caught 171 passes for 2,874 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also had 2,209 yards rushing—and ran for 21 touchdowns. Those statistics were especially remarkable considering the plethora of talent that surrounded Jones. Six of his teammates made it to the pro football Hall of Fame, and Brown always insisted that Jones was a s deserving as any of them.
In the eight seasons that Jones played with the Browns, they lost more than two regular-season games only twice. This was a team that won championship games by scores of 49-7, 56-10 and 38-14. The Browns won five league championships, and finished second the other three years.
Of course, no account of Jones’ pro career is complete without mention of a Nov. 25, 1951 game with the Chicago Bears. Both teams were leading their respective divisions going into that game, with the Bears defensive unit called the “Monsters of the Midway.”
Jones equaled Enie Nevers’ NFL record by scoring all six Cleveland touchdowns in the Browns’ 42-41 victory.
“That game meant something,” he understated. “It seemed like everything went right for me. I scored five of the last six time I touched the ball.”
In the fourth quarter, Brown learned that Jones was one touchdown away from Nevers’ record and asked his flanker what play he would like for a shot at the record. Jones suggested a post pattern, and Lujack chased him into the record book on a play that covered 50 yards.
Forty years later, the record of six touchdowns has been equaled by one other player (Gale Sayers of th eChicago Bears, in 1965), but nobody broke it.
Jones, who went into the construction business after his football career ended, made his football debut on a Ruston High “Pee Wee” team coached by Jimmy Mize in 1938.
“It was a great experience,” he said of his high school career. “I can’t emphasize how much those coaches (Mize and Garrett) meant to me. Nobody has ever taught me anything about running or hitting that superseded what Hoss Garrett taught me. And, really, that’s most of the game.”
When Jones retired after the 1955 season, he was the only member of a team that many people considered the greatest ever assembled who had a career total of more than 40 touchdowns.
Four of his sons played college football—one at Louisiana Tech, one at the University of Arkansas and the other two at LSU. One of them, Bert Jones, joined his dad in the NFL record book for a few years when he completed 17 consecutive passes. But his record didn’t last as long as the one his dad set.
Later, they became the first father-son combination in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
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