DENVER -- Pro football Hall of Famer Stan Jones, a standout for the Chicago Bears in the 1950s and '60s and an innovator of weight training in the NFL, has died. He was 78.
Jones died Friday night at his daughter's home in Broomfield, Colo., of complications of heart disease, according to his daughter, Sherrill Jones. She said her father also was battling skin cancer.
Jones, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, also spent more than two decades coaching in the NFL, including 18 seasons with the Denver Broncos.
"He was a wonderful father and teacher, he was our hero," Sherrill Jones said.
Born in Altoona, Penn., on Nov. 24, 1931, Jones grew up in the Harrisburg area, where he was introduced to the York Barbell Co.'s weights, which he began using to transform himself from a skinny 140-pound boy into an elite offensive lineman who packed 265 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame -- big for his day, small by today's standards.
"He was ahead of his time," his daughter said. "In high school and college, his friends and teammates used to make fun of him because he was in the gym while they were out dancing and chasing girls. He first got hooked on weights because he grew up near York, Pa., where York Barbells were made. He figured that was the way to go.
"He didn't consider himself a natural athlete, so he thought weight training would put him over the top" she said. "And it definitely did. he started out as a skinny pip-squeak and by the time he finished his career, he was one of the giants."
After starring at the University of Maryland, where he was a two-way tackle and won a national title in 1953, Jones joined the Chicago Bears in 1954 as a tackle and then switched to guard the next season. One of the first pro players to lift weights, Jones played in seven straight Pro Bowls from 1955-61. In 1960, he played both offense and defense, one of the last 60-minute men in the NFL.
Jones switched to defensive tackle permanently in 1963, teaming with Doug Atkins and Bob Kilcullen to form one of the league's best defenses.
He was traded to the Washington Redskins in 1966 so he could play a final season near his home in Rockville, Md.
After that, he joined Lou Saban's staff with the Broncos, where he served as both strength and defensive line coach. He followed Saban to the Buffalo Bills in 1972 and returned to the Broncos in 1976, where he reunited with Joe Collier to help build the famed "Orange Crush" defenses.
In 1989, Jones returned to the weight room as strength and conditioning coach with the Cleveland Browns, and in 1991 he joined the staff of the New England Patriots. He retired after the 1992 season and returned to his home in Fraser, Colo., but quickly went back to work, this time for the Scottish Claymores of the NFL Europe league.
Jones was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Darlis, who died in 2002. He is survived by his daughter, three sons and five grandchildren.
A celebration of his life will be held June 4 at the National Western Stock Show complex in Denver.