Remembering Aki Jones: 1982 – 2014

Three years ago this week we heard the tragic news of the passing of Aki Jones. This is what we posted. He touched so many people both inside of football and outside that we felt compelled to republish our article to pay tribute to a man who had such an impact on the football world, not just in Europe, but throughout the rest of the world as well.

It is with our deepest regret that we report – as many have done already – the death of a friend not just to the football world – but to everyone he touched – Aki Jones.

He was a friend, a mentor, a leader, an inspiration, but first and foremost he was a football player. Born in Queens, New York, he graduated from Fordham University and joined the Washington Redskins as a defensive tackle. After finishing in the NFL, he turned to Europe and Wroclaw, Poland where he had an enormous impact not only on the field but in the community as well.

Mark Philmore II played with Jones in Poland;

 “Aki was the one who convinced me to go to Europe to play. He was an amazing guy to be around. He was more then a teammate, more than a friend he was truly a brother. I keep waiting for him to pop up on Facebook to prank us all but unfortunately that is not the reality of the situation. He has touched so many people throughout his short time on this earth. He will be missed dearly around the entire world.”

After five years in Wroclaw, making a difference everywhere he turned, he moved on to Sweden with the Arlanda Jets where he was coached by Billy BD Kennedy:

“His skill and enthusiasm were unbounded. He was one of the best players I have been around in so many ways. He was a fierce competitor on the field. But take him to a kids practice or a school and he would get animated. The kids loved him.”

Aki Jones 6

Aki Jones front and center with the Arlanda Jets

His final playing stop was Finland in 2013 where he helped the Turku Trojans win a championship. Stan Bedwell, now coaching college football back in the States, was his teammate and close friend.

“The world truly lost an amazing person Sunday. Aki was larger than life…on and off the field, literally and figuratively. As good of a friend as one could ever have. I know that in death, people tend to exaggerate how special or wonderful someone really was. That is not the case here…he was one of a kind. An addictive personality and someone you always wanted to be around. I know there are a lot of people hurting right now. It doesn’t seem fair. “

He moved back home and joined the Miami Dolphins front office and was enjoying life, as usual, back in the NFL again.

Everyone who knew him feels at a loss.

Rest in Peace.

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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