Holly — Greg Jones has earned himself a great life through football.
He went to an outstanding prep school in Cincinnati, Archbishop Moeller High School, and continued his athletic career at Michigan State University.
The linebacker was a four-year starter, earning All-American honors twice and First-Team All Big 10 honors three times.
He then was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Giants and played on the Super Bowl championship squad. The Giants defeated New England 21-17.
Jones ended up playing in the NFL for three seasons, and then spent parts of four seasons in the Canadian Foot-
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ball League (CFL).
However, none of it happened without Jones making some serious decisions at an early age. Jones had to deal with gangs, violence and drugs as he grew up in Cincinnati. And it was the decisions he made as he grew up that assured he kept the doors open to a successful future.
Jones visited the Holly varsity football team on Tuesday, discussing his message to the squad. A week earlier he spoke to the cross country program.
“I was able to steer away from those things, using the things my parents taught me,” Jones said. “I was a little bit scared knowing if I didn’t do it (succumb to peer pressure), this was going to happen, but at the same time I had to make decisions and this is what this program is all about.”
Jones said he remembered when he was as young as 8, when he may have made his first realization.
“I was talking to my cousin and he said, ‘I could’ve played football,’” Jones said. “I asked what happened and he said he didn’t like the coach, didn’t want to get yelled at and that’s it. I thought what if I just keep going on and ignore it. It sucks. No one likes that, but I wondered why they yell at you and that’s why they are good coaches. What they are telling you is important as well.”
Jones used the word “leader” as an acronym to make his points. Leader stood for listening, encouragement, adversity, discipline, earning the right to be a leader and respect.” He also said the points when he had to make decisions in his life he considered his “plays.”
“All of the things in my life I had to learn from were my plays,” Jones said. “People can use different things in their lives to learn from and make the right decisions. We have to use our circumstances to create the plays in your life that will help you be successful. That’s what this program is all about.”
“One of the important things I got out of this is about the decisions we make and how they impact us through our life,” Holly varsity football coach Dallas Lesperance said. “Every decision you make can impact you — positive or negative — and I thought that was a great message he delivered.
“That’s kind of what he’s talking about. ... It may be a small decision that you think you are making, but it could be the biggest decision of his life. It changes the outcome of your life. It doesn’t mean it has to be that way. ... It’s never too late to change the path, but you have to make those decisions.”
The day ended with a fun team-bonding moment — a game of kickball. But Jones hoped it was his message that the players remembered best.
“(The most important message) I want to get is to understand the impact of your actions,” Jones said. “It can happen at any stage and can be good or bad. You can lead or you can be a follower, but you can still make an impact good or bad. That’s a decision you have to make every day.”