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Sports

Football: A family man, a football life

Ex-Plano star Joe Jones reflects on whirlwind first year in NFL

Joe Jones can finally relax, and reflect.

He is back home in Plano, staying at a place in Lakewood Springs two blocks away from the house he grew up in. He can unwind with his wife Amber and 15-month-old daughter, Scarlette, like any other young father.

His last year has been anything but ordinary, though.

In a span of months the former Plano and Northwestern football star lived in four different cities. His family lived the uncertain life of an undrafted NFL rookie.

It finally culminated with his NFL regular-season debut in November, for the Denver Broncos against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Still on the Broncos' 53-man roster, Jones has been back in Plano for two weeks. The plan is to report back to Denver in March until told otherwise.

"It's been nice to sit here, enjoy time with my wife and with my baby girl," Jones said. "What happens from here all depends on where football takes me next."

It's already taken him places, in a whirlwind year.

Within 30 minutes of the NFL Draft in May 2017, Jones signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.

He played with the Cowboys in the preseason, leading the team in tackles, but was released when Dallas cut down to its 53-man roster. Jones flew out to Los Angeles to join the Chargers, but three days later was told they had to let him go.

He finally settled with the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad.

It was months of cross-country trips, Airbnb stays.

"For me the roughest part was on my family, my wife and my daughter each time a move happened," Jones said.

Jones stuck in Seattle, loved the fit, loved the city.

He was in a meeting room with fellow linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright when he got the call from his agent that the Broncos were signing him off the Seahawks practice squad.

"For me that call was slightly bittersweet," Jones said. "The Seahawks are a great team, great organization, beautiful city, beautiful people. I enjoyed every moment."

At the same time, Jones considered himself a fan of ex-Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. And joining the Broncos allowed him to reunite with a former Northwestern teammate, quarterback Trevor Siemian.

His second game in Denver, against the Bengals, Jones finally suited up in a regular-season game.

"It was complete and utter excitement," Jones said. "I remember walking into the locker room and seeing my name on the back of a jersey, and I was like 'I missed this so much.' I'm so happy that I got to play again. Preseason was the last time I had seen my name on the back of a jersey, and before that college. I was nothing but overjoyed and energized."

Jones played on all four special teams units with the Broncos over the final seven games. He got to tackle a former Michigan player on a return, fun payback for college.

"That was fun. More than anything, I just missed playing ball," Jones said. "I got to represent my family, everybody that stood behind me, parents, siblings, coaches, everybody."

Jones plans to head back to Denver in March. He has a few items to check off before then.

He plans to help coach track in Plano. He's taking a vacation to Hawaii with his wife, their first vacation since their honeymoon.

As much as anything, Jones is thankful.

"It didn't work out in Dallas, but I have to thank those coaches for giving me the opportunity," Jones said. "The guys you get to meet, the guys you get to know and spend time with, there are a lot of great guys in the league.

"At the end of the day, I landed on my feet for a team that I had a blast to play for."

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