|07-08-2006, 10:20 AM||#1|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
Q & A: Rulon Jones
Denver could sure use a DE of his caliber.
Spanning the Decades: Rulon Jones Q&A
SoCals Link: http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.ph...4&storyID=5721
Controlled fury that turned opposing quarterbacks' games into nightmarish experiences. High-fives after sack upon sack upon sack -- 73.5 of them, to be exact, over a stellar nine-season career. Flowing blond locks streaming from a helmet as he sprinted past a helpless lineman and into an opposing backfield.
These are the enduring images of Rulon Jones, whose pass-rushing skills were in ample evidence for nine seasons in Denver. He joined the team as a second-round selection from Utah State in 1980 and eventually became a two-time Pro Bowler, as well as an All-Pro selection in 1986 as the Broncos returned to the Super Bowl after nine years away.
This week as we feature players from the 1980s, Jones sat down to answer your questions.
What career path did you pursue after your life in football? Where do you reside now?
I am in Liberty, Utah; that is where we moved to. What I am doing is kind of unique. I have a ranch and we made it into a hunting park. On the one ranch we have 20,000 acres that we do hunting on. We have two different types of hunts; we do free range hunts -- just regular type of hunting -- and then we have a fenced area where we do elk hunts. We actually have our own herd and manage the elk that way. That is what I am doing.
Editor's Note: For more information on Jones' hunting ranch, click here.
Who was the offensive lineman that gave you the most physical problems in your career?
The guy I probably struggled with the most -- we didn't play him every year; they were in the AFC but not our division -- was (Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle) Anthony Muņoz. The thing about Anthony was that he wasn't really a guy that was going to overpower you with his strength, but he was such a technician. You could never get him flustered or off his game. Other offensive lineman if you can get in their head, you can do the mind thing with them once you beat them you can play off of that. Anthony was just a solid guy, you could never get him off his game. He never made a mistake, I always hated playing against him because you probably weren't going to get a sack off him.
My dad went to your ranch out West. What is it like to meet so many different people and run a wildlife ranch?
Foster, W. Va.
I am a people person so it has been good. I enjoy that aspect of it, people that are in that (hunting) atmosphere make it real enjoyable because you know it is something they enjoy and love to do. Besides that it is what I love -- I love the outdoors. It is the dream career for me after my first dream career. There is a lot of work involved, but it is outdoors and doing the things I love to do.
Do you have any good elk recipes?
Bill "Buckshot" Brown
I don't, but our chefs do. We have a couple of really good chefs that work at our ranch.
Have you convinced any of your ex-teammates to come hunting with you yet?
Boca Raton, Fla.
I have had a few guys and celebrities (come out and hunt); (former NBA all-star) Karl Malone is a friend of mine and he hunts with me quite a bit. There were some hunters, but a lot of the guys I ran around with really weren't hunters. John (Elway) went hunting with us one time out in Colorado. We didn't have a lot of hunters on the Broncos.
Is there a particular sack in your career that you look back on as being the most memorable -- whether it is because it helped the team or it was an individual accomplishment that you were proud of?
Probably more than anything, there was a play against the New England Patriots in 1986 playoffs and I got a sack for a safety. That was a fun play and it had a lot of impact on the game because it was towards the end of the game and they had been moving the ball. That was one that stands out more than any.
What impact did Joe Collier have upon your career?
You could never work any harder than Joe. He did absolutely everything that he could to be prepared. He adapted to the players that he had. He wasn't a type of guy that was totally set on what he did. He adapted to things as he saw the need per game. There was a lot more of the mental part of the game with Joe Collier as defensive coordinator because we did so many different things. A lot of teams maybe had 10 different defenses, where we may have had 60 or 100 or something like that. We had quite a playbook to draw from. Joe had a great influence on what I did obviously because I was one of his players and he took into account my abilities and every ones on the team. He was a very unique guy as far as that goes and a great coach.
What game, moment, or even particular play do you feel was the highlight of your career?
John R. Mitterer
Colorado Springs, Colo.
At the first of my career, I had a really good rookie season. So everybody told me that I had potential to be All-Pro and accomplish these things, so that became a goal of mine. Because of a knee injury and figuring the game out, it took me a while to accomplish that. Knowing I had that potential from the start and then taking a few years to make that, it was a big goal as far as an individual. And then obviously the Super Bowls were amazing. A lot of people think that because you lost, it takes away from it. True, but the accomplishment of going and experience and all that was amazing. I had a lot of friends who played a lot of years who never made it to that point. I am not trying to make it sound like it wasn't disappointing to lose the Super Bowl, but those things that we did accomplish were really good. We had an amazing record through the 1980's, so that association with the guys and being able to play with a John Elway and all the guys that I did was a big accomplishment as well.
What is the one thing you miss most about playing in the NFL for the Denver Broncos?
The thing that most people won't be able to relate to, but the game of football for me -- some guys aren't as emotional as I was -- the emotion of football was very addictive for me. I was talking to Merlin Olsen -- who is a friend of mine -- and I told him that when I retired I thought that I was really ready. I was physically ready, emotionally ready and he (Olsen) kept saying, "How are you doing?" I always told him that I was fine, but then not too long into retirement I realized what he meant. In your everyday life you don't have a lot of emotion really, but when you are in the NFL there is so much emotion good or bad. Just like the Super Bowl, you go and you are on this high and then you lose and you are on this low. It is all energy and emotion and I think that I miss that more than anything. It takes a while to get used to being a normal citizen again and not having all that emotion. I think that is what most people miss; I think they have a name for it now, post-football-syndrome or something. There are a lot of people who can't deal with that. Also I think that you are this person -- and not necessarily that you are famous -- and that (football) is your identity and it has been your whole life and all of sudden you aren't that anymore. I don't think I miss being famous or anything like that; it is just that football was over and I didn't have any association with it at all. All of a sudden who you are, you are not that anymore. I think for a lot of guys it takes a minute to figure out who they are.
Who were some of your favorite players growing up?
I was from a very rural area and we didn't have football. I didn't start football until i was in high school, so I really wasn't a guy who followed a lot of sports. I watched football like everybody did, the Green Bay Packers and Bart Starr and some of those top guys I knew, but I wasn't into the stats. We were too busy working on the farm and stuff like that. So it really wasn't a part of my life, I didn't play sports until high school which I think worked out as a benefit.
What emotions did you have as you entered your first training camp as a rookie? What veterans helped you along the way?
You know I came into a really high tradition system. Joe Collier and the "Orange Crush" defense was well-respected. As far as players, I came in with Rubin Carter, Barney Chavous and guys that were true veterans. They knew the game really well, they knew the "53" defense that we were playing really well. Then I had (defensive line coach) Stan Jones; I think one thing that I really lucked out on was coaching throughout my career. I had an amazing college defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli -- who is now the head coach of the Detroit Lions -- and then Stan Jones. I heard nightmares from some of the other guys when i went to the Pro Bowl. Some of the assistant coaches were not the caliber and the personality that Stan Jones was. Not only the ball players, like Barney and Rubin but the coaches. And as much as anything Randy Gradishar as well, he was a linebacker and he taught me some amazing things. I remember some life type things that he taught me and work ethic things. He really stepped forward to help me. Tom Jackson was a great example as well. I stepped into a great defense that was full of talent and good men. That was the thing about those guys that was so impressive, not only were they good players but good people.
What was your reaction on the day the Broncos drafted you? Were you especially happy to stay in the Rocky Mountain region?
Absolutely. I had looked at the Broncos and everybody told me that I would be going in the first round. The Broncos didn't have a first-round pick that year; they had traded it away. The Cleveland Browns had actually commented in the paper that they were going to take me if I was available. It was a crazy draft year that year (1980); I think that there were eight defensive backs taken in the first round and that just kind of pushed everyone back. So they (the Browns) took Charles White, the Heisman Trophy winner out of USC and as soon as I wasn't drafted by them I was looking at where Denver was.
Denver was quite a ways down in the second round, but what I didn't know was they had traded up and had a very high second-round pick. That is a tough time; I don't think people realize how tough that is -- especially back then. You pretty much knew the team that took you was who you were going to be with most of your career and you have no idea what is going on. But it was unbelievable when Denver drafted me. I am a guy who loves the West, loves the mountains and amazingly to go to a team like the Broncos was a dream come true.
What do you remember about watching "The Drive" from the sidelines? And after the tying touchdown, did you guys just know you were going to win that game, no matter what?
Morehead City, N.C.
That is the thing about that team, it is weird how things seem to work your way. That was a team that really came together and the ball seemed to bounce our way every game. All season long we had been making those types of things happen, something always happened in our favor. For that to happen, we were just so confident. I think that is why the Super Bowl was so hard, all year long things had gone so well and we just had the attitude that they would. I don't think any of us ever doubted we would win that game (Browns playoff game).
You guys played in some pretty brutal weather over the years -- that frigid game at Kansas City in 1983, snow at Denver on numerous occasions, etc. What was the most uncomfortable weather you ever played in?
The most uncomfortable game was probably in Chicago. We had a lot of snow, but usually when it snows it is not that cold. We played in Chicago in 1981 and it was cold. The wind was blowing and it was just cold. Craig (Morton) was toward the end of his career and when it got cold it was tough for him to move. I don't think Chicago had won many games that year and we were sure we would win and go to the playoffs. Well we didn't win and it was probably the most uncomfortable game I have ever been in.
|07-08-2006, 12:04 PM||#2|
Billy=Semi Tough Big Guy
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: between 5,000 and 10,000 feet elevation
One of the most under-rated Broncos of all time
|07-08-2006, 12:41 PM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Long Island, NY
Thanks for the post. One of my all time favorites.
It was interesting he brought up that 1981 season ender in Chicago. Alot of people here are too young to remember that game but it ranks up there, just below the 96 Jaguars game, as far as crushing losses for me. I was ****ing devastated when we lost that game.
It was Reeves rookie year and Craig Morton led the NFL in passing efficiency from week 4 thru week 15. In week 16 we needed a win at Soldier Field to snag the number 2 seed in the AFC, heading into the playoffs.
It was windy, cold and miserable in Chicago, and Craig Morton had an awful game. He threw 3 interceptions and two were returned for TD's. Alan Page was an old man playing his last game in the league, and he sacked Morton 4 times in the game. Deberg threw two long TD's to Upchurch but it was too late, 35-24.
For at least 15 years I held a grudge against Morton for that game, even though I liked him as a player. But when I got into my tape hobby, I got a copy of the Dan Reeves Show, which showed the highlights of that game. After the game highlights, they showed post game locker room interview footage of Morton.
He was looking straight into the NBC camera, with his eyes welling up, and said, "I'm so, so, so, so, sorry Denver for letting you all down today. This one's on me, I take complete responsibility. I'm sorry to my teammates, coaches and family, but most of all I am sorry to you all Denver".
They cut the tape and go back to Ron Zappolo and Dan Reeves, who just watched the same interview. There was uncomfortable silence for a few seconds as both grown men did everything they could to avoid crying themselves.
To this day I've never seen a pro athlete look right into a camera for 10-15 seconds and apologize to an entire city. It was such a classy move and one that properly represents his tenure in Denver.
Also, on a side note, if we had beaten Chicago that day, the football world never would have gotten, what is generaly regarded as, the best modern day game of all time, the 1981 Divisional Playoff between San Diego and Miami. if we beat the Bears, that game isn't played.
|07-08-2006, 02:58 PM||#4|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
|07-10-2006, 08:49 AM||#5|
Join Date: Apr 2001
In Morton's defense, by that time, at his age, cold weather would definitely affect his ability to move and to throw.
But man oh man, that guy was as courageous a football player as I've ever seen. To play as long as he played on those legs . . .
Back to Rulon, he was one of my favorites for sure. I'll never forget after "The Drive" game, one of the Browns offensive lineman said, "That is the quickest big white dude I've ever seen!"
|07-10-2006, 09:53 AM||#6|
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Northern Utah
My HS DC played with Rulon...
...at Utah State and he had some crazy stories to tell!
From what I hear, Rulon has mellowed out quite a bit but is still pretty intense. I know a guy who worked for him on the Elk Ranch and he says he's one intense dude.
I used to have his posters and Elway's posters up in my room as a kid.
As a kid, I went to a gymnastics meet at USU with a friend of mine (his parent's had season tickets) and Rulon was sitting about 5 rows in front of us. I went up to him and asked if he was Rulon Jones. He said "yep, what's your name?" then he invited me to sit down with him and he talked football with me for about 10 minutes.
As a 12 year old kid I thought that was very cool.
|07-10-2006, 10:11 AM||#7|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Long Island, NY
While everyone hated Mark Gastineau, Rulon had many a sack dance or celebration that started to cross the line of good taste. But unlike Gastineau's self serving "look at me bull****, Rulon's were that of a genuine out of control football warrior. He truly went into a rage on the football field, especially during his early years. He received his fair share of Unsportsmanlike calls in his first few years.
Rulon's deterioration of skills between 1987 and 1988 were sad. He was lifted on most rushing downs in 1988, and was made a pass rush specialist almost exclusively. Many of us laugh at Tony Lilly's performance against the Skins in SB 22, but Rulon looked bad in that game too. Blown off the ball by the Hogs all day, Rulon was nearly invisible.
But his play from 1980 to 1986 was almost dominant at times. One of my favorites of all time.
|07-10-2006, 11:14 AM||#8|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
Him and Meck and Fletcher used to just dominate games. Back when Denver was getting 4-6 sacks every week.