Former University of Washington tight end Rod Jones, a member of the Husky Hall of Fame, died by suicide Saturday. He was 54.
Jones worked almost 20 years in the Washington athletic department as a popular academic coordinator but recently had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, his daughter told the Seattle Times.
“He’s been dealing with depression for years,” Jamie Jones said. “I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but he started to notice some memory loss. He just couldn’t remember things.”
His family believes he was suffering from the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and was making arrangements Sunday with the staff at Boston University’s CTE Center to donate Jones’ brain for research.
Jones was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame as part of legendary coach Don James’ 1984 team that defeated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, a landmark victory in Huskies football history, and was ranked No. 2 in the final AP poll behind only unbeaten national champion BYU.
He finished his college career with 81 receptions — at the time the school record for a tight end. He was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection and an honorable-mention All-America tight end as a senior captain in 1986.
Jones spent parts of three seasons in the NFL, first with the Chiefs and then a final season in 1989 with the Seahawks.
He eventually returned to the university to earn his degree and become a mainstay in the athletic department.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic passing of Rod Jones,” athletic director Jennifer Cohen said in the statement Sunday. “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.”
Jones is survived by his wife, Carla, two daughters, a son and a granddaughter.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday at the Don James Center at Husky Stadium.