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Aaron Jones motivated to carry on his father's legacy

Packers running back plans to dedicate the rest of his NFL career to his late father, Alvin Jones Sr.

Aaron Jones and his father, Alvin Jones Sr.
Aaron Jones and his father, Alvin Jones Sr.

GREEN BAY – There was no place on earth Alvin Jones Sr. would rather be on Sundays than watching his son, Aaron Jones, go through pregame warmups from the corner of the end zone.

From El Paso to the NFL, wherever Aaron was playing, the retired Army Command Sergeant Major and his wife, Vurgess, were going to be there to cheer on their son. It wasn't just a routine – it was a way life for the Joneses.

That fleeting memory brought a momentary smile to Aaron's face on Tuesday, as he reminisced about his late father following the first open practice of organized team activities.

Alvin Sr. passed away in April at 57 years old, just weeks after Aaron achieved a lifelong dream when the Pro Bowl running back agreed to a long-term contract extension with the Packers.

Jones, who addressed the media for almost 15 minutes Tuesday, held back tears when talking about his father's passing for the first time publicly with the Green Bay media corps.

"The rest of my career will be dedicated to my father," Jones said. "He's the reason I started playing football. He's what kept me going so many times. As a kid when you want to give up, he kept me going."

Alvin Sr. and Vurgess served in the U.S. military for 58 combined years, which resulted in the Joneses moving frequently when Aaron and his twin brother, Alvin Jr., were young. When the couple was deployed to Iraq in 2003, the kids went to live with relatives until they returned.

For all the sacrifices their children made, Alvin Sr. chose to retire from active duty when Aaron and Alvin Jr. were beginning high school in El Paso, Texas. Raised by a single mother, Alvin Sr. wanted to make sure he was there for every game Aaron and Alvin Jr. played at UTEP.

"I cherish all of them because the next day or hour is not promised to any of us," said Alvin Sr. of watching his sons' games in January 2020. "(I) cherish any minute I get to spend time with our kids and our favorite time to spend with them is watching them play."

With his family firmly behind him, Jones has become one of the game's most exciting running backs during his first four NFL seasons. In 2020, the former fifth-round pick became the first Packers running back since Eddie Lacy to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Jones, 26, has done so while averaging 5.17 yards per carry, the fifth-highest average in NFL history among running backs with at least 600 career carries.

Jones' parents have been there for almost all of them, with only the pandemic keeping Alvin Sr., Vurgess and the rest of the Jones family out of Lambeau Field most of last season. The couple was able to attend Green Bay's two playoff games, though.

And family is what Aaron credits for helping him get through the past two months. And when Vurgess or his twin brother, Alvin Jr., couldn't be there, Aaron leaned on his teammates.

"I have a locker room full of brothers here who are making sure that I'm OK," Jones said. "Some nights, I'm there with them on their couch and different things like that. … I'm thankful for all those guys in the locker room, to the upstairs management who's made sure that I'm OK and continued to check on me."

Back in Green Bay for OTAs, Jones is excited about the upcoming 2021 season and the one-two punch he looks to form with second-year bulldozer AJ Dillon in the Packers' backfield.

As difficult as the past two months have been, Jones knows his father would want him to press forward. He plans to proudly wear his family name on the back of his jersey once again, while striving to reach the goals he and his father quietly set together.

When pregame warmups are over, Jones doesn't plan on doing anything differently than he always has.

"I'm still going to go have my moment with him. I know he's still going to be there," Jones said. "He has the best seat in the house. I know he's up there watching me and it's going to be special."

The Packers were on the practice field Tuesday for the offseason program.

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