Rose Mary Phillip
Who is Paul Jones?
If you don’t know, you should.
If it wasn't for him, you wouldn't know Fred Stamps, Marcus Howard or Rashad Jeanty. He scouted these Eskimo All-Stars and many others, including Milt Stegall, Jason Tucker, Rod Williams, Rod Davis, Ed Hervey, Elfird Payton and Chris Thompson.
As the Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel, Jones is rare. With eight teams in the CFL and 32 in the NFL, there are only 40 jobs in the world for what he does and he says "it's an honour" to do it.
"I get up in the morning and thank God for the opportunity He has given me," says Jones. "Having a part of a man's career as a player and afterward means a whole lot to me."
|Paul Jones watches practice with Eskimo Head Scout Ed Hervey.|
The native of Elaine, Arkansas (population:~600) is an all-around nice guy, a loving husband to Juanda, a father of four and a grandfather to four more who has a honed-skill for finding players who excel in Canadian football.
"When I was 12-years-old, I knew what I wanted to do. So, I worked hard, believed in myself and what I do and love it and take pride in it."
Jones' career began the same year Stamps was born, 1981, as a recruiting coordinator for Northwest Mississippi Junior College. The next year, the team won the national championship. Coincidence? Probably not.
He went on to spend 10 seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the director of player personnel and assistant general manager. After a stint as a scouting consultant for the Minnesota Vikings in 1997-1998, he joined the Toronto Argonauts, again as director of player personnel and assistant GM.
His resume includes seven Grey Cup appearances with four wins (two with Edmonton in 2003 and 2005), 29 playoff games and eight division championships. Wow. It's no wonder he was inducted into the Ourlads’ Scout Hall of Fame in 2010.
"When Hugh Campbell asked me if I wanted to come to Edmonton, I told him I thought this was the best franchise in the CFL," says Jones.
Now in his 14th season with the Eskimos, he travels anywhere from 100 to 150 days every year in search of new talent to bring home a 14th championship. Like coaches, he puts in long hours, often spending holidays and special occasions away from loved ones.
"You gotta beat the bushes to find players. You gotta get out and get with it."
Not every player he scouts experiences the success or longevity of Stamps. "When you give a guy an opportunity, that's a job opportunity. They have to take advantage of the rest. You can't go out and play for them. You have to hope they will do their best."
For Jones, the job is about more than evaluating athletic ability. He looks for players with "class and character. Not characters, but character. You don't win championships unless you have guys with class and character."
As the Esks gear up to earn a spot in the 100th Grey Cup game, Jones cannot imagine doing anything else. "I enjoy it today just like I did 30 years ago when I started. To work for an organization of this caliber is an honour."