Update: There is a happy update, which is presented at the end of this story.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Losing his father caused untold pain for Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones.
Losing some of his ashes on Lambeau Field on Monday night?
“That’s where my dad would’ve wanted me to lose it, so I know he’s smiling,” Jones said after scoring four touchdowns in a 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Alvin Jones Sr. died in April at age 57 due to complications from COVID-19, according to his hometown newspaper, The El Paso Times. Until the pandemic kept fans out of the stands last season, the elder Jones never missed his son’s games.
In his father’s place were 15 friends and family members, including his mom, brother and son.
“I’m used to turning around and seeing my dad in the stands and just smiling to know everything is OK. So, when I was seeing them, I was good,” he said.
Jones wore a necklace, a black football, that carried some of his father’s ashes. He thinks he lost the necklace on his second touchdown reception.
“It’s super-special,” he said. “My dad’s always taught me as a man is how you respond to adversity … or how you respond is what makes a man, really. So, I think we came out, we did a good job of responding. We played well, we played at a high level.”
Jones had a spectacular day. He carried 17 times or 67 yards and the clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter and added six receptions for 48 yards and touchdown receptions in each of the first three quarters.
He kept the Packers afloat in the second half. On the first touchdown drive, which tied the game at 7, he touched the ball seven times and capped it with a 4-yard touchdown catch. The second drive was a three-and-out punt in which he didn’t get the ball. On the second touchdown drive, which tied the game at 14, he touched the ball six times and capped it with a 1-yard touchdown catch.
“He’s just a different type of back, and he’s a special player,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “But the person is really, really a great person.”
Jones made some history along the way. He became the first Packers running back with three touchdown catches in a game since Andy Uram in 1942. Jones is only the seventh player in Monday Night Football history to score four touchdowns in a game and the first since Marshall Faulk for the St. Louis Rams in 2000. He’s the first running back with three touchdown catches in a game since New England’s Danny Woodhead in 2015.
It was a statement performance. Last week, Jones carried only five times for 9 yards in the 38-3 loss to New Orleans.
“It feels great just to get that ugly taste out of your mouth,” said Jones, who is second in the NFL with 34 total touchdowns since the start of the 2019 season. “We had to wait an extra day to get that taste out of our mouth – I wish we could have played on Thursday night. But I’m glad we came out and handled business, and back to playing Packer football.”
A few hours after the game ended, head athletic trainer Bryan “Flea” Engel paced slowly back and forth across the visitors’ side of the north end zone. Finally, after about 1:45 a.m., he found the little black football.
That a member of the Packers’ staff spent at least a half-hour in the middle of the night looking for it speaks volumes about Jones.
“It says a lot about Aaron Jones, but I think it also says a lot about Flea and what kind of guy he is,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Tuesday. “He means so much to us – both of those guys do – and obviously I think Aaron being in the stadium for the first time without his father, that was a pretty big deal for him. To go out there and perform and have four touchdowns, I think that was a pretty big moment for him.”