Bert Jones is an absolute legend. Whether it was his time with the LSU Tigers or in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams, the star quarterback has a list of accomplishments football players dream of. “The Ruston Rifle” did it all, and it should never be forgotten.
Consensus All-American. NFL Offensive Player of the Year. NFL Most Valuable Player. Pro Bowl. Those are just a few of Jones’ accolades throughout his football career. He was stud signal caller who paved the way for many greats after him.
Rumor has it he could throw a football almost 100 yards in the air. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick once called him the best pure passer he ever watched. The praise for Jones stretches out the door and around the block. Not mentioning him as an all-time great might be a mistake.
Bert Jones College Career
Bertram Hays Jones is the son of former Cleveland Browns running back Dub Jones. He grew up in Ruston, Louisiana, went to Ruston High School, and followed in his dad’s footsteps to attend Louisiana State University.
Although his dad transferred to Tulane for World War II training, Bert Jones stayed in Baton Rouge and became a college football superstar. He led the SEC in passing his final two seasons and finished his LSU career as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards, attempts, competitions and touchdowns.
He even led LSU to an amazing comeback victory over Ole Miss.
Jones was the school’s first Consensus All-American quarterback, Sporting News named him the 1972 National Player of the Year, and he finished fourth on the Heisman Trophy ballot. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
After his college career, Jones took his talents to the NFL as a first round pick.
Bert Jones NFL Career
From the moment he was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft, Bert Jones felt pressure. The Baltimore Colts had just traded Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas to the San Diego Chargers a few days earlier and drafted Jones to replace him.
“The Ruston Rifle” delivered.
Jones had a nice 10-year career in the league, but nothing topped his 1976 regular season. He threw for over 3,000 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions to earn Pro Bowl, First-Team All-Pro, and NFL MVP honors.
He played with the AFC East franchise until 1981, including three playoff appearances, and played his final season with the Los Angeles Rams.
Former Colts general manager Ernie Accorsi said, “if he had played under different circumstances, he probably would of have been the greatest player ever.” Getting sacked 12 times in one game by the St. Louis Cardinals is an example of that.
Bert Jones is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and never won a Super Bowl, but it’s safe to say he made a lasting impact. He belongs in the same conversation with Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler as the great quarterbacks of the 1970s.
Where is Bert Jones Today?
Bert Jones gave up his elite passer rating and finding the end zone for a new calling. He hosted an outdoors show on ESPN for a decade and is the former chairman of the Louisiana Fisheries Commission, according to LSU.
Jones never left Ruston, Louisiana. No matter where he played, he’d always return there during the offseason. The now-68-year-old former football star is in the lumber business. Bert and Bill Jones started Mid-States Wood Preservers in 1979 in Slimsboro, Louisiana, which is near Ruston, and it’s still in operation.
Jones has at least four children and five grandchildren, according to NFL Player Engagement, and his All-America legacy will continue for generations to come.