Catching up with Dub Jones

Rich Passan interviews an all-time great Cleveland Brown who could hurt opponents either running or catching the football. Now 81, Dub Jones looks back on his exciting career as a Cleveland Brown... 

He wasn't particularly fast or especially quick. But he was smart and versatile, qualities that caught the eye of Browns coach Paul Brown in the late 1940s while Dub Jones playing with another football team.

Jones came out of Tulane as a single-wing tailback, but Brown saw more than a runner when he traded for him in 1947. He also saw a pass receiving threat in the angular Jones, who used his 6-4 height and good hands to his advantage.

Whether running out of the backfield or flanked wide as a receiver, Jones was a constant danger to opposing defenses and gave Brown more muscle for his already-potent offense. No longer could opponents key on fullback Marion Motley or receivers Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie. Jones became a viable option.

In his eight seasons with the Browns, he played in eight championship games and helped win five titles, three in the National Football League. He gained NFL All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in the 1951 season.

He is best known, however, for being one of only three men in NFL history to score six touchdowns in one game. He ran for four scores and caught two passes for touchdowns in a 42-21 victory over the Chicago Bears on Nov. 25, 1951. He touched the ball 12 times that afternoon, rushing nine times for 116 yards and catching three passes for 80 yards.

Jones, now a robust 81 and living in Ruston, La., served as an assistant coach under Browns coach Blanton Collier from 1963 to 1967. After retirement from the NFL, he followed the fortunes of his son, Bert, who had a successful 10-year career as a quarterback with the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The Orange & Brown Report recently spoke with Jones, whose voice still has a syrupy Louisiana drawl.

The OBR: How did get your nickname?

Dub Jones: W (for William).A. are my initials. Dub came from double you. I was called that from almost from the beginning.

The OBR: What are you doing these days?

Dub Jones: I'm working for my son. My baby, Tom, is my boss. Tom went into my business (Triad Builders in Ruston, La.). We're in the general contracting business, mostly commercial. Occasionally, we get into home building.

The OBR: You're 81 years old and still working. Just can't retire?

Dub Jones: No. There's no such thing. I never even think about it. Working keeps the blood flowing.

The OBR: What do you do?

Dub Jones:  I do most anything from estimating to being a project manager. A little of all of it. We all do it all. There are four of us in the office. We all do more of less the same thing except for Tom and he does it all.

The OBR: Let's talk some football. You came to the Browns by way of a trade.

Dub Jones:   I came to Cleveland as a defensive back. I played with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and before that with the Miami Seahawks in the All-America Conference. When the Seahawks went under, I was traded to Brooklyn as a single-wing tailback. That's what I played in college (at Tulane). Everything was going fine until we opened the season with Cleveland and (middle guard) Bill Willis got to me before the ball was hardly snapped to me. It was a disaster. I hurt my knee and separated my clavicle. I was hurt pretty bad. I was out for a month or so. And when I came back, I broke my hand on a punt return. Had my hand in a cast. From that point on, I played only defense because I couldn't handle the ball from center. It turned out that Cleveland thought I was a pretty good defensive back. I intercepted a couple of passes against them. We almost beat them in 1947. I think I more or less impressed Cleveland with my defensive ability. Probably the main reason I went to Cleveland was that I had played with (Browns quarterback) Otto Graham in the All-Star Game and I'm sure he had some influence on the trade.

The OBR: You played strictly offense in Cleveland.

Dub Jones: I started off playing defense. That's a story in itself, too. Paul (Brown) really wanted Tommy James, who had played for him in high school and college as a defensive back. He actually took my place you might say. From that point on, I switched over to offense.

The OBR: What do you remember most about playing for Paul Brown?

Dub Jones:  You've heard millions of stories about Paul Brown and I don't know how I can add to them. He had the respect of all of us as players even though many players cursed him and were awfully critical of him. They still respected him.

The OBR: What about you personally?

Dub Jones: I respected him. I was always a friend of Paul Brown. Somehow, I justified some of his actions that disturbed other players. I always gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was good, he was great, he was right most of the time. And that's what it takes. The real thing is he made the right decisions a high percentage of the time. That's the way he got discipline and respect. Vince Lombardi might do it one way and Paul might do it another way, but you can bet your bottom dollar that most of the time, they make good decisions.

The OBR: Do you see that today in coaching?

Dub Jones: Oh yes. I'm sure that's something that would never change. They have different problems now than we did, but I would imagine that it still holds true that the best way to gain respect from all your players is be right about what you ask them to do.

The OBR: No conversation with Dub Jones would be complete without talking about that big game of yours, that one day at the old Stadium in late November of 1951 that kind of stood out. Six touchdowns against the Chicago Bears. You'll always be remembered for that.

Dub Jones: I appreciate being remembered for that.

The OBR: Could you tell ahead of time that this might be something special?

Dub Jones:  It was a special game. We were leading our division and the Bears led theirs. It was a critical game. Emotion-wise, though, it wasn't like the Philadelphia Eagles game the previous year (when the Browns won their NFL debut game against the champion Eagles). That was the big game.

The OBR: Were you in the game plan for the Bears game?

Dub Jones:  I was always in the game plan. Paul always talked to me prior to games. Even the assistant coaches sometimes asked me if I could convince Paul of doing such and such. I had the respect of Paul as far as game plans were concerned.

The OBR: At what point of that afternoon did you feel something special was happening?

Dub Jones:  After I'd scored a few touchdowns, I probably said something about it going great here. It wasn't pointed out to us until after the fifth touchdown. They alerted Paul and the bench that I was within one TD of tying the record (set by Ernie Nevers of the Chicago Cardinals in 1929 and tied again by the Bears' Gale Sayers in 1965). It was only on the last touchdown that we favored me for the play (a 43-yard TD strike from Graham).

The OBR: The last five times you touched the ball, you scored a touchdown. That's remarkable.

Dub Jones: Yeah, it is looking back on it.

The OBR: Does it sometimes take reflection to make you blink a little and say, "Whoa, that was really something"?

Dub Jones: It really does. At the time, I didn't think about it as being anything all that great. But as the evening wore on and the days wore on, yes, it was something special. I'm thankful. Paul Brown didn't have time to think about touchdowns. We had so many weapons. In this element, one player scored a lot of touchdowns. We had Speedie, Lavelli and Motley. You spread those opportunities around. It's not like, say, O.J. Simpson playing tailback and getting 30 carries a game. We spread the ball and opportunities around.

The OBR: When you think of Cleveland and the fans, what are your thoughts?

Dub Jones:  Reflecting on it 50, 60 years later, I hope I don't exaggerate. But it was a different world (back then). The fans were fantastic. They were blue-collar fans and they were fans who understood the game, understood the players and understood the situation. And we didn't have to worry if this was a big-time game or not. The fans reflected it. They knew. They were great fans.

The OBR: When you found out in 1995 that the Cleveland Browns were moving to Baltimore in 1995, what did you think?

Dub Jones: I couldn't understand it because Cleveland had been such a factor for the NFL all those years. I couldn't imagine them moving out of Cleveland. I thought it was a reasonable complaint by the city (to protest the move) and a reasonable response by the NFL (to restore a franchise in Cleveland).

The OBR: Any problem that there was three-year absence and the team came back as the Browns even though the old Browns were in Baltimore?

Dub Jones: If the owner of the Cleveland Browns wants to move, certainly he can move, but I don't think he should take the Cleveland Browns name. I think it belongs to the city like U.S. Steel and Sherwin-Williams and Glidden. It belongs to Cleveland. Obviously the NFL thought so, too.

The OBR: Do you follow the game today?

Dub Jones: No. I did follow it for years when Bert was playing. I was in football a long time. I played for 10 years, was out of football for seven years, then I came back with the Browns as an offensive coach for five years. After that, Bert was playing, so I was closely associated with the NFL for another 10 years. But since then, I've sort of faded out. I have no real ties. Oh, I watch it occasionally. I'm interested. In fact, I ran into a Cleveland Browns scout this year and gave him a lead on a running back down here (Joseph Addai of Louisiana State). I was very anxious to see if anything resulted from it, but it didn't. They didn't get him. (The Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the first round in April.)  You watch him. I think he's a real prospect and I told this scout. I told him I'm not talking about lower echelon. I'm talking the real deal. I'm talking about (Reggie) Bush. I'm talking about first-line running backs. He'll be another Marshall Faulk.

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