Eddie Jones, a Denham Springs native and LSU graduate who became a longtime fixture in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, died Wednesday.
Jones was 74.
Called the “consummate team player” by Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, Jones began his NFL career as the Saints business manager in 1968, less than two years after the expansion club was founded. He worked his way up through the ranks with the Saints under former owner John Mecom, becoming team president and chief operating officer from 1982-85.
“Eddie Jones was a great friend and supporter of our city, Louisiana and the New Orleans Saints,” said Saints owner Tom Benson, who purchased the team from Mecom in 1985, in a team statement. “He was a respected and admired individual during his time with the Saints and within the NFL and made many lifetime friendships and touched the lives of those that he worked alongside. We will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.”
Jones moved on to the Dolphins in 1988 as vice president of administration and finance. He was named executive vice president and general manager in 1990 and served as team president from 1996-2005.
“I really appreciate all Eddie did for me and the Dolphins during the time we were together,” Shula said in a statement released by the Dolphins. “I can’t say enough about his support of the football team. I’ve always felt teamwork in all phases of the operation was the key to building a winning team, and Eddie Jones was the consummate team player.
“He would drop by my office almost every day and ask how things were going,” Shula said. “He wanted to do everything that he could do to help us win, and that’s all you can ask of a front-office executive.”
An Air Force veteran, Jones is survived by his wife, Marilyn, their three children, Wendy, Todd and Jeff, and five grandchildren, Connor, Ashkon, Ion, Koosha and Hayden.
“I came to know Mr. Jones many years after his tenure with the Saints, but he was someone with great class, character and high standards,” said Rita Benson LeBlanc, Saints vice chairman of the board. “He was a warm and caring individual who I delighted in listening to.”
During his tenure in the NFL, Jones played a key role in important league matters, serving on the employee benefit committee and as a trustee of the Bert Bell Player Pension Plan.
“Eddie was a true gentleman and a consummate professional,” former Dolphins owner Tim Robbie said. “He brought a positive attitude and genuine enthusiasm to everything he did.”
Jones received numerous honors for his contributions to both the Dolphins and the South Florida community. In 1999, Jones, in a unanimous selection by the Dolphins players, was recognized with a special courage award from the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, which recognizes individuals in the NFL who display courage in the face of adversity.
“Eddie’s tenure at the Dolphins may have preceded my ownership, but I certainly knew so much about him from his many friends,” current Dolphins owner Steve Ross said. “From the very beginning of my involvement with the team, I not only heard about all the things Eddie accomplished on behalf of the organization, but also about the respect and admiration so many people had for him, not only among the Dolphin family, but also throughout the South Florida community and the NFL.
“I know Eddie will be missed by everyone he touched, and on behalf of the Dolphin organization I want to extend my condolences to his wife, Marilyn, and the rest of his family.”
According to Seale Funeral Service, visitaton will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Denham Springs, with services to immediately follow.