Rod Jones, a former El Cerrito High School football standout who went on to star at the University of Washington and play three seasons in the NFL, died by suicide Dec. 8. He was 54.
Jones’ daughter, Jamie Jones, told the Seattle Times that her father, who died from a single gunshot to the head from the day before, had recently been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. She told the newspaper the family believes Jones was suffering from symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The Times’ report indicated the family was going to donate Jones’ brain to Boston University’s CTE Center for research.
“He’s been dealing with depression for years,” Jamie told the Times. “I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but he started to notice some memory loss. He just couldn’t remember things.”
Jones was born in Richmond on March 3, 1964. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds when he was a professional, Jones played tight end and defensive end for El Cerrito. He was part of the Gauchos’ powerhouse 1983 team that went 11-2 overall and 5-0 in the Richmond-Berkeley Athletic League.
In 2012, Jones and members of the 1983 football team were among those inducted into the El Cerrito High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jones was part of the 1984 Washington Huskies team that finished the season No. 2 in the country. He was selected as one of Washington’s captains in 1986.
Jones was an eighth round draft pick of the New York Giants in 1987, He played in five games over two years for the Kansas City Chiefs and finished his NFL career in 1989 with the Seattle Seahawks.
Jones had been with the University of Washington for the past 18 years, working as a academic coordinator in the athletic department.
Jones is survived by his wife, Carla; daughters Krystal Roquemore and Jamie Jones; son, Rod Jr.; and granddaughter, Arielle Hatten, the Times reported.
Former El Cerrito football standout, who played in NFL, commits suicide