Bringing it back home after football
By Shaun Kernahan; photos courtesy of the Jones family
September 24, 1994 was the date of, arguably, one of the most memorable single plays in sports history for the state of Colorado – the Miracle at Michigan. The seventh-ranked University of Colorado (CU) Buffaloes were in “The Big House,” facing off against the number four Michigan Wolverines. Six seconds left in the game, down 26-21, Buffaloes quarterback Kordell Stewart heaved the ball more than 70 yards where the ball was deflected into the air for wide receiver Michael Westbrook to come down with one of the most dramatic Hail Mary victories in college football history.
On the field that day was Buffs linebacker, former USA Today High School All-American from Denver’s Kennedy High School, Greg Jones. When asked about the play, Jones just smiled and nodded his head, “I was there. Yeah, yeah – I was there.”
Jones had full-ride scholarship offers from both Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Jones wanted to stay close to home and turned those offers down, picking CU to continue his education and football career. He graduated in 1996 with a degree in business administration and small business management.
Jones met his wife, Valerie, a native of Lamar, Colorado, while attending CU. The two had their first child, Avery, in 1997. Avery, recently graduated from Colorado State University, where she danced. They also have a daughter, Ciara at the University of New Mexico. Their 15-year-old son, Braxton plays basketball for Rock Canyon High School, and they have two younger daughters, Amaya (9) and Harper (almost 5).
A few months after Avery was born, Jones was selected in the second round of the 1997 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins, where he spent four seasons. He then played one season in Chicago before heading down to Houston where Jones said, “The heat killed me.” It should be no surprise that Jones and his family decided to move back to Colorado to set down roots. They chose The Village at Castle Pines in 2003 and haven’t looked back.
It was a good two years before Jones could watch football on TV. He said that he felt like he still belonged on the field and that watching the game depressed him. “It took me a long time to get past it,” recalled Jones. Eventually, he conceded that the back injuries prevented him from a comeback. A friend from kindergarten got him a job as a mortgage broker with Vertex Financial Group, where he has been since.
“It was a huge adjustment going from football to sitting in an office eight to10 hours a day. At first, I didn’t think I could do it.” He proved himself wrong; Jones has been in the mortgage industry for almost 16 years now and is licensed in five different states. Now, that same competitive nature that made him an elite athlete drives him to be the best mortgage broker and neighborhood poker player he can be. Although a fierce competitor, it is clear he is laid back and is best described by friends as a gentle giant.