Aaron Jones isn’t sure where he would be right now if the Green Bay Packers hadn’t re-signed him to a big-money contract extension this offseason, but he does know life would have been much harder without his Packers teammates by his side amid a challenging year for his family.
When the Packers begin their season against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon, Jones will be taking the field for the first time in his NFL career without his biggest fan, his father Alvin Jones Sr., watching from the stands. The elder Jones passed away suddenly at the age of 57 back in April, prompting the Packers’ star running back to “dedicate the rest of (his) career” to his father’s memory.
Jones will, however, have other members of his family — his Packers family — alongside him just as they were during the offseason when he needed their support most.
“When my father passed away, I had some teammates fly in from out of town and be with me,” Jones recently told Heavy.com. “I thank them for that. I’m with those guys every day from the end of July to the end of February, so I definitely see those guys as part of my family, not a second family. It made the process of my dad passing a little easier, having them here, helping me a lot. They kept my mind off of things, talking ball with me. If I’d had to go somewhere else (in free agency), it would have been tough because I wouldn’t have had those bonds.”
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Family Home Remains Critical to Jones’ Life
Jones spoke with Heavy.com as part of an interview series linked to his partnership with ESPN and USAA, through which Jones aims to give fans a closer look at his “home base” in El Paso, Texas.
While not many 26-year-old professional athletes spend their offseasons living in their family home — especially not those signed to $48 million NFL contracts — Jones appreciates the value of keeping his loved ones close as a child of two military members who spent his younger years moving around the world with his parents. He relishes having a “home base” where his mom, his siblings and their children and partners can all be together and support one another.
“Family has always been big to me and our home has always been a point where we get together to … cherish each other,” Jones said. “We’ve always tried to take people in and help them out.”
There is also a room inside that home where Jones can feel close to his father: A trophy room that Alvin Sr. had been specifically building to highlight his son’s achievements in the NFL, and one that Jones says he will continue to add onto until his career comes to close.
“It’s definitely a room that I can go and sit back and know that my dad was super proud of me,” Jones told ESPN in his “home base” interview.
Jones Keeps in Touch With Jamaal Williams
While Jones is appreciative for his Packers teammates being there for him after his father passed away, he also understands the bonds forged on the football field don’t fade when players go in different directions. His continued connection with Jamaal Williams is proof of that.
Williams, who was drafted in 2017 with Jones and spent the past four seasons sharing a backfield with him for the Packers, ended up signing with the Detroit Lions during the 2021 offseason, but being on opposite sides of rivalry lines haven’t pushed them apart in the slightest.
“We talk often actually,” Jones said of Williams. “That’s the good thing about football. You make lifelong brothers. I saw him before camp started and I told him, ‘You only went to Detroit because you wanted to see me two times a year, I’ll miss you too.’ I’m happy for him to get the opportunity to start over there.”