Sean Jones, the right defensive end for the Green Bay Packers, has a business lunch sandwiched between a team meeting and an afternoon practice. Slumped on a leather couch in the players' lounge, with CNBC on the TV in front of him and a laptop computer and a portable fax on the end table nearby, Jones, who is also a stockbroker for Dean Witter in Beverly Hills, is on his cellular phone discussing a $100,000 investment with a client. Just then, the ghost of Vincent T. Lombardi walks into the room. "Jones, how I many times do I have to tell you? Only three things should matter to you: your religion, your family and the Green Bay Packers—in that order," says Lombardi. "Buy, sell or hold does not make the list."
It seems fitting to have the NFL's only Pro Bowl stockbroker playing for the NFL's only publicly-owned, not-for-profit franchise. In addition to working as a broker at Dean Witter, Jones owns DSJ & Associates, a company that manufactures NFL-licensed rugby shirts. He also runs a real estate company, Trinity Acquisition Group, which manages property in four states and Jamaica. As if all that were not enough, Jones is the host of a weekly TV show in Green Bay, Between the Lines with Sean Jones.
"Which one of these things do I do on the side?" Jones says. "I don't know. I never allowed myself to be just an athlete. You can have a passion for something without it becoming all-consuming."
For the past six years at Dean Witter, Jones has managed the accounts of about 150 clients, who range from his former L.A. Raider and Houston Oiler teammates to doctors, lawyers and actors. During the off-season Jones operates from his Beverly Hills office. Once the football season begins, he relics on his laptop computer to call up stock quotes or a client's portfolio. "Physically, he's here about four months a year, but mentally he's here all the time," says Jones's Dean Witter partner, George O'Brien.
December 5, 1994
Out of his pin-striped suit, Jones is, well, a money player. In April he signed a three-year, $7.8 million contract as a free agent, and through Sunday he was leading the Packers in sacks with 9½, tied for second best in the NFC. With 98 career sacks, Jones will soon become the eighth player in NFL history to have 100 or more sacks, and he and left end Reggie White—the best set of bookends in the game right now—have totaled 242 sacks in their careers.
Jones's days often seem to be 36 hours long. On a recent Tuesday, the Packers' off day, Jones flew to Houston to meet with one of his Dean Witter clients, and later that afternoon he secured a deal with JCPenney for his rugby-shirt company. By the time he arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport, he had missed the last plane to Green Bay. Since practice on Wednesday was to begin at 7:45 a.m., Jones rented a limousine for the 210-mile trip and got home at 4:30 a.m.
After a full day of practice, Jones had his hair cut in the locker room, wrote what he calls his "Andy Rooney piece" for his TV show and took care of more business involving the JCPenney deal. Then he drove to WLUK's studio to tape the show. Jones's wife, Tina, who is eight months pregnant with their first child, met him at the studio and dropped off a change of clothes. "It's hard for me to see him," she said. "He always has 101 things going. He only sleeps three or four hours a night."
When the show was finished, Jones went to a seafood restaurant for his weekly dinner with a few of his teammates. Of course, he was late. "I hope you treat your business clients better than your friends," guard Harry Galbreath joked. After feasting on a steady stream of wisecracks, Jones left after 10 p.m., with his pillow as his next stop. "Tonight, I'm tired," he said.
Jones comes by his industriousness quite naturally. He was raised in Milk River, Jamaica, but when he was seven, his family moved to Montclair, N.J., so that his mother, Sylvia, could attend graduate school. Later she received her doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts, and she has taught in the Newark public school system for 25 years. His father, Walter, put himself through college at night and worked two jobs until retiring last year. By day Walter was a social worker in Essex County, and at night he was an orderly at Overbrook Hospital in Summit, N.J.
In high school, business was Scan's primary interest. He played football, basketball and lacrosse for Montclair Kimberley Academy prep school, but those activities simply passed the time. "I went to school with all these rich kids," says Jones. "They used to laugh when I said, 'I'm going to get a job where I control your money.' Like the saying goes, 'If you don't have money, control money.' "
When Jones was a senior, he wasn't offered a single football scholarship. He decided to attend Northeastern in Boston for its business program, and he squeezed lacrosse and the Huskies' I-AA football program around the demands of his marketing major and the various accounting and sales jobs he had each year.
In 1984 the Raiders shocked 27 other scouting departments by drafting Jones in the second round. "Sean was the worst football player I had ever seen when he showed up in camp," says Howie Long, who is now one of Jones's closest friends as well as a client. "He couldn't even get in a stance."
"I figured sooner or later they would figure out that I couldn't play," says Jones, 11 years after his first training camp. "The reason I don't pay off the rest of the balance on my student loans is because the debt is a constant reminder of what it took to get here."
To get to his current level of play took hard work and long hours of studying game films. The time spent with a remote control—"analyzing the games," says Jones, "just as I analyze a balance sheet"—is how he became one of the best linemen in the league. Still, over the years he has given people plenty of reason to question his work ethic and his commitment to the game. In Houston, where he played from 1988 through 1993, Jones missed three training camps because of contract disputes and because, he admits, "I just don't like the preseason."
"If practice is at 1:30, Scan gets there at 1:29," says Packer defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur. Jones's teammates know to start stretching when number 96 arrives. Counters Jones, "It" they want me to be at practice at 1:15 instead of 1:29, they should say that practice begins at 1:15."
During drills Jones is as mobile as a blocking sled and as lazy as a summer afternoon. He leaves the body crunching to others. Jones contends that he simply prepares differently for games: "I do my homework in the film room."
"Sean gives less than a damn every day but Sunday," says center Jamie Dukes.
Jones says that as he shopped around for teams last spring, he was criticized by those who thought he had too many projects outside the game. But he refused to be apologetic. "My strength in this game is that I'm always prepared to play on Sunday," says Jones. "I love being a stockbroker and a football player. I'm committed to both."
He is also committed to doing what he believes is the right thing to do. In 1987 Jones, then only 24, was an outspoken player representative during the midseason strike. At the end of that season the Raiders traded him to Houston. There, Jones quarreled publicly with owner Bud Adams. He may not have actually called Adams a liar, but he did say that he was careless with the truth, charging that Adams reneged on verbal agreements with players when it came time to sign a contract. Jones grew so frustrated with his own contract situation during the summer of 1992 that he announced his retirement.
"I was supposed to make $750,000 that year, but I didn't care," says Jones. "I was just fed up." But Jones went back to the team in the second week of the season, after, he says, Adams called to make peace.
Yet it was very likely only a matter of time before Jones would have returned to the game. With all of his ventures, he still needs what only football can give him. "So many people have jobs that are not challenging, that are so mundane, they just punch the clock," he says. "Each Sunday I have a challenge. Some people have to wait quarterly to get a challenge. An accountant has April 15; what is there after that?"
Sunday is Jones's full-time job. The rest of the week is just on the side.