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Stan Jones, 78, Hall of Fame lineman with the Chicago Bears; all-American at U-Md., dies

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 26, 2010; B07

Stan Jones, 78, an all-American at the University of Maryland and Hall of Fame lineman with the Chicago Bears who was considered the first football player to make weightlifting a regular part of his training regimen, died May 21 at his daughter's home in Broomfield, Colo. He had complications from heart disease and skin cancer.

Mr. Jones arrived at Maryland weighing 195 pounds and completed his college career as the powerful 252-pound anchor of a team that won a national title. During his three years with the Terrapins, from 1951 through 1953, his team had a record of 27-3. He then played 13 years in the National Football League with the Bears, first as a standout offensive guard and later as a defensive tackle on the Bears' 1963 NFL championship team.

In those days, few football players lifted weights because it was considered vain and because they feared becoming "musclebound" and losing their speed. Mr. Jones discovered weightlifting on his own as a 140-pound high school student in Lemoyne, Pa.

"I started lifting weights in high school in 1945," he told the Denver Post in 2003. "I worked out pretty heavily. I gained 20 pounds a year for six straight years. . . . If I hadn't lifted weights, I doubt if I could have played."

Nicknamed "Superman" for his exceptional strength, the 6-foot-1 Mr. Jones started at offensive tackle for two years under Maryland's Hall of Fame coach Jim Tatum. When a new rule was adopted in 1953 requiring players to stay in the game on offense and defense, Mr. Jones excelled on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He was a unanimous choice for all-American in his senior season, and several groups named him the country's best lineman.

Maryland compiled a perfect 10-0 record during the 1953 season, winning the national championship in a nationwide poll of sportswriters. The honor was somewhat tarnished, however, when the Terps lost to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 7-0.

After graduating, Mr. Jones joined the Chicago Bears under the stern owner and coach George Halas. As an offensive guard, Mr. Jones played in seven straight Pro Bowls and was named to the first-team All-NFL squad four times. In 1962, he played both offense and defense for the Bears before switching exclusively to defensive tackle in 1963.

The '63 Bears had one of the most stifling defenses in NFL history, with two other Hall of Famers -- linebacker Bill George and defensive end Doug Atkins -- besides Mr. Jones. In the NFL title game, the Bears forced six turnovers in defeating the New York Giants, 14-10.

Mr. Jones played two more years in Chicago before being traded to the Washington Redskins for one final season, in 1966, when he earned his highest salary as a player, $19,000. In the offseason, he lived in Rockville and taught physical education and coached track at Bethesda's Walt Whitman High School.

When he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991, he was only the fourth player whose primary position had been offensive guard.

"I'll tell you one thing, he could lift the side of a house," his teammate Fred Williams said at the time. "He was one strong son of a gun."

Stanley Paul Jones was born in Altoona, Pa., on Nov. 24, 1931, and grew up near Harrisburg, Pa. After his playing career, Mr. Jones spent 18 years as defensive line coach with the Denver Broncos, where he helped shape the famous "Orange Crush" defense of the 1970s.

Mr. Jones was defensive coach and strength coach for several other NFL teams well into the 1990s. He retired to a mountainside home in Fraser, Colo., where he worked at a tourist information center and performed in a group that put on skits about the Old West.

"Football players and coaches are natural actors, anyway," he told the Denver Post. "You get used to people looking at you. As coaches, we dramatize things, and we ad-lib a lot."

His wife of 47 years, Darlis Hobbs Jones, died in 2002. Survivors include several children and grandchildren.

After he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000, Mr. Jones quipped: "I went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when I was 60. I went into the College Football Hall of Fame when I was 70. I tell everybody that by the time I'm 80, there's no telling how good I'm going to be."

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