Edward Lee “Too Tall” Jones (1951- )

Ed Too Tall Jones
Ed "Too Tall" Jones
Photo from the Bernard Gotfryd collection at the Library of Congress. Photo in Public Domain (CC0)

Edward Lee “Too Tall” Jones, is a former professional football player best known for playing for the Dallas Cowboys his entire career. Jones was born on February 23, 1951, to Abbie Jones and Jack Jones in Jackson, Tennessee. Growing up, Jones attended Merry High School (Now Jackson Central-Merry Early College High School), where he played baseball, basketball, and football.

After graduating from high school, Jones attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he initially played for the Tennessee State University Men’s Tigers basketball team during his first and second years. He left the basketball team and joined the university football team under John Merritt, where he played the defensive end position. Jones gained the nickname “Too Tall,” given by a teammate who mentioned that his pants did not fit because he was “too tall to play football,” referencing his 6ft, 9in height.

Jones became a two-time All-American defensive lineman and won two Black college football national championships in 1971 and 1973. He entered the 1974 NFL Draft and was selected 1st overall by the Dallas (Texas) Cowboys. Jones became the first football player from a Historically Black College (HBCU) to be the 1st overall pick in the NFL Draft. Jones later became a starter at left defensive end and contributed to the Cowboys’ victory against the Denver (Colorado) Broncos in Super Bowl 12.

Jones retired from the NFL following the 1978 season to pursue a professional boxing career, a surprising move demonstrating his versatility and determination. On November 3, 1979, Jones made his professional debut in Las Cruces, New Mexico, against opponent Abraham Yaqui Meneses, whom he defeated. Jones would be involved in several other professional boxing fights until he decided to return to football, playing with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1980 NFL season. During his second stint with the Cowboys, Jones became a first-team All-Pro. He would spend another decade with the Cowboys until he retired permanently from the NFL in 1990.

Jones retired from professional football without missing a game start, and he tied fellow Cowboys players Mark Tuinei and Bill Bates for the most seasons played in the franchise’s history. This record was later broken by other Cowboys players, Jason Witten and L.P. Ladouceur.

Outside of football, Jones would make an appearance as a guest referee at World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania 2 pay-per-view in 1986. He would also venture into the entertainment industry, appearing on television shows like Diff’rent Strokes and Married… with Children. In 2009, 19 years after he retired from professional football, Jones starred in a GEICO commercial about his height, a testament to his enduring fame and the impact he made in popular culture. In 2013, Jones was introduced into the Black College Football Hall of Fame. He is married to Angie Jones.

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