FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After his workout Tuesday for the New York Jets, wide receiver Dwight Jones walked into a bathroom at the team's facility, dropped to his knees and thanked God for another chance to fulfill his NFL dream.
Jones impressed the brass enough to win a spot on the practice squad, the first step in his second NFL journey. In 2012, he signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent, but he walked away to care for his dying son, Deizean, who was born with lung, heart and brain disorders.
People thought he quit because he didn't like football. That, he said, wasn't the case at all.
"I wasn't mentally prepared to play football," Jones said Wednesday after his first practice.
Deizean died last June, three months before his second birthday. Jones remained out of football, but football kept calling him back. At first he was reluctant, but there was considerable interest, so he figured it was his destiny to play professionall football. He went to the CFL to play for the Montreal Alouettes, but that didn't work out.
Jones enjoyed a productive college career at North Carolina, catching 85 passes for 1,196 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he's built almost like a tight end. After signing with the Texans, he proclaimed himself "the next Andre Johnson." Then came an 18-month hiatus from the game.
He said his sister recently had a dream about New York, so Jones figures he's meant to be a Jet.
"My son died and I feel like a part of me is gone, but it makes me stronger," he said. "It makes me want to do it for him."