Former UW football standout Rod Jones, a tight end for the Huskies in the mid-1980’s and member of their historic Orange Bowl-winning team in ’84, died by suicide this past weekend at age 54.
Jones’ daughter, Jamie Jones, told The Seattle Times that he took his life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head Friday, Dec. 8. He was pronounced dead at Harborview Medical Center on Saturday.
Jones, who played three seasons in the NFL, spent 18 years working as an academic coordinator in UW’s athletic department.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic passing of Rod Jones,” UW Athletic Director Jennifer Cohen said in a press release. “Rod has been an integral part of the Husky family dating back to his playing days at the UW and now through his service of our student-athletes as a member of our academic support staff. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to Rod’s family as they mourn this devastating loss.”
According to The Times’ story, Jones’ family believed he was suffering from symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and planned to donate his brain for research at Boston University. He had recently been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and had a history of alcohol abuse, according to the daughter.
Jones, born in Richmond, Calif. in 1964, starred at El Cerrito High School as both a defensive end and tight end before attending Washington. He was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame as a member of the 1984 team, which finished the year No. 2 in the country after defeating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. He was also a captain on UW’s 1986 team.
Drafted in the eighth round of the 1987 draft by the New York Giants, Jones played nine games in the NFL over a three-year span with the Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He later returned to UW and received a degree in Ethnic Studies in 2000.
A memorial service for Jones is planned for Saturday at the Don James Center at Husky Stadium.