There’s no question Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best players in the history of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
His 8,167 rushing yards, 81 career touchdowns, and 68 career rushing touchdowns place him on the Mt. Rushmore of Jaguars’ greats.
YouTube highlights featuring MJD’s explosive runs that bewildered defenders leave one speechless.
The fact this man stood just 5’7″ made the highlights even more spectacular and worth watching many times over.
Truly, Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best diminutive players in the history of the National Football League.
Maurice Christopher Jones-Drew was born to parents Sidney Gayle and Andrea Drew in Oakland, CA on March 23, 1985.
Jones-Drew has a younger sister named Taylor who became a cheerleader at De La Salle High School.
His maternal grandparents Maurice and Christina Jones raised him in Pinole, CA near San Francisco.
Andrea Drew told ESPN’s Bruce Feldman in November 2005 it was her son’s choice to live with his grandparents.
Both Drew and her husband worked long hours during their son’s formative years.
When Maurice Jones-Drew was a youngster, he felt his final name was a bit long so he stuck with “Maurice Drew,” per The Associated Press’ Ken Peters.
The mysterious disappearance of seven-year-old Amber Jean Swartz-Garcia on June 3, 1988 prompted Maurice Jones to watch over his grandson like a hawk, per ESPN.
Swartz-Garcia lived just two houses away from the Jones residence.
Jones became his grandson’s faithful companion until his death in 2005. According to Feldman, he even accompanied him to his ballet lessons three times weekly for nearly five years.
Christina Jones urged her grandson to learn ballet because it helped NFL stars Lynn Swann and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson improve their balance and body control.
Jones-Drew relented and the rest was history.
His grandfather suffered his first heart attack when he was just eight years old.
Christina Jones told ESPN her husband’s near-death experience jolted her grandson. It made him closer to his grandfather from there on out.
He learned the virtue of humility at a young age.
Fifty-one-year-old Maurice Jones, a retired probation officer and former basketball and track star in college, played one-on-one hoops with his grandson when the latter was just nine years old.
Jones-Drew told Peters he became a bit too cocky after he went up 5-1 on his grandfather.
Maurice Jones went on to score the next nine points. His game-winning basket came on a pump fake that fooled his grandson.
“The last point, he pump-faked me real good and went up over me,” Jones-Drew told The Associated Press some thirteen years later. “I learned not to be cocky.”
Jones-Drew’s high school football coach Bob Ladouceur developed a friendship with Maurice Jones.
“When Maurice told him something, he would just sit and listen,” Ladoceur told Peters in a phone interview in 2005. “He was so supportive, (he) was more than a father to Maurice.”
Jones-Drew attended De La Salle High School in Concord, CA.
— WFAA HS Sports (@HSwfaa) August 30, 2015
The diminutive 5’6″, 160-lb. Jones-Drew played running back, return specialist, and linebacker for the De La Salle Spartans.
He was also a member of the school’s track team. Jones-Drew’s blazing speed ran in his bloodline – his grandfather Maurice was a former track athlete.
His grandfather was a regular fixture at his games until his death in 2005.
When Drew signed a three-year deal with the then-Oakland Raiders on March 28, 2014, he was reunited with his De La Salle Spartans teammate Nick Holz.
Holz was an offensive assistant under first-year Raiders head coach Dennis Allen.
Jones-Drew was a freshman when he was called up to the Spartans’ junior varsity squad.
Holz, who was a sophomore wide receiver, was astonished at Jones-Drew’s abilities on the gridiron. The freshman sensation also blew their other teammates away.
“Everyone’s like, ‘Who the heck is this guy?'” Holz told SFGate.com’s Vic Tafur in 2014. “He was like five feet tall. And his legs are about as big as he is wide. And he started running over people then. And he hasn’t stopped.”
MaxPreps.com writer Mitch Stephens can attest to Holz’s testimony.
Stephens wrote in October 2011 Jones-Drew was the best prep football player he had ever watched live.
When Stephens watched Jones-Drew play for the first time, he somersaulted into the end zone.
Officials flagged him for a 15-yard penalty.
“Maurice, if you do that again, you’re never playing for De La Salle again,” Spartans head football coach Bob Ladoceur told him (via MaxPreps.com).
It was the third of Jones-Drew’s four touchdowns in De La Salle’s resounding 29-15 victory over the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits in 2001.
Our first guest on the Podcast was Coach Bob Ladouceur from De La Salle (CA).
📺 He called at beautiful Sprint Out Throwback Screen to open up the 2001 Game of the Century vs. Long Beach Poly!
— The Coaches Collective (@CoachCollect) February 2, 2021
Jones-Drew’s exploits helped the Spartans show everyone who was the better squad between the top two high school football teams in the country.
When Jones-Drew was a senior in 2002, Stephens saw him literally drag two Long Beach Poly defenders who weighed at least 200 lbs into the end zone.
Stephens summed up his assessment of Maurice Jones-Drew the high school football phenom:
“From a sheer big-game, big-moment, jaw-dropping kind of player that took my breath away, Jones-Drew was second to none.”
“Besides spectacular moves on punt returns, the power Jones-Drew displayed was awesome.”
Spartans defensive coordinator Terry Eidson told Stephens that Jones-Drew was so elusive, nobody could take him down during a one-touch 7-on-7 summer league scrimmage game two years earlier.
“He was making moves in the open field that were hard to describe,” Eidson told Stephens in 2011. “It was a one-hand touch league and no one could even touch him.”
It was an upside Maurice Jones-Drew displayed week in and week out during his college and pro football careers.
Jones-Drew had almost 2,000 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns in his junior season at De La Salle High School.
Despite Jones-Drew’s massive potential, his size was a red flag for some college football recruiters. UCLA head football coach Bob Toledo thought his size was a liability, per ESPN.
While the USC Trojans were interested in Jones-Drew, they wanted him to play defense since they already had a logjam at running back with Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
When Karl Dorrell replaced Toledo and tapped Eric Bieniemy, it became more evident Maurice Jones-Drew would become a UCLA Bruin.
Bieniemy was the coach who recruited Jones-Drew – then still known as “Maurice Drew” – to UCLA.
The diminutive and explosive running back would make a name for himself with the Bruins in the next phase of his gridiron journey.
College Days With The UCLA Bruins
Maurice Jones-Drew played running back for the UCLA Bruins from 2003 to 2005.
He was also a member of the Bruins’ track team.
Jones-Drew grew sick of their crosstown rivals, the USC Trojans, dominating headlines, per ESPN:
“When we see people flying in from other countries wearing SC stuff, it shows us how hard we have to work.”
“It motivates me when I hear Reggie Bush say he and Matt Leinart are the kings of L.A.”
Holz suited up for the Colorado Buffaloes as a walk-on wide receiver during his college days. When Jones-Drew was a freshman at UCLA in 2003, he showed swagger the moment he set foot on the college gridiron.
Holz recalled that memorable moment for SFGate.com in 2014:
“His freshman year, one of Maurice’s first games was UCLA at Colorado. You think this kid is going to be nervous, and he is in there for the huddle and he looks over to the sidelines and says, ‘Hey, Holz, look at what I’m going to do!”
“I was terrified just being on the bench.”
Maurice Jones-Drew’s college football debut didn’t go too well.
He had just -2 rushing yards and 10 kick return yards as the Bruins lost to the 24th-ranked Buffaloes, 16-14.
Jones-Drew finished his true freshman season at UCLA with 582 yards and five touchdowns on 135 carries.
He took his game to the next level as a sophomore with 1,007 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
The Bruins were a mediocre team during Maurice Jones-Drew’s first two years at UCLA.
They went a combined 12-13 in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA seasons.
Maurice Jones-Drew experienced a life-changing moment at the beginning of his senior campaign at UCLA.
His grandfather Maurice Jones, who raised him since he was a young boy, died of a heart attack during the Bruins’ game against the Rice Owls in September 2005.
“I was thinking that couldn’t be him,” Jones-Drew he told ESPN when he saw his grandfather’s lifeless body at Huntington Memorial Hospital. “He always had so much spirit. No, that just couldn’t be him.”
Maurice Jones was sixty-nine years old.
His grandson changed his name legally to Maurice Jones-Drew in his honor.
According to Feldman, the weeks following Jones-Drew’s grandfather’s death took the fun out of football for the UCLA running back.
It wasn’t until the October 8, 2005 matchup against the Cal Golden Bears when Jones-Drew enjoyed playing football again – just the way his grandfather Maurice would’ve wanted.
Jones-Drew had 299 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in UCLA’s 47-40 win.
He finished his junior campaign at UCLA with 914 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 186 carries.
Jones-Drew consequently received First Team All-Pac 10 and Unanimous All-American honors at the end of his junior season.
The Bruins went 10-2 in Dorrell’s third year at the helm. They beat the Northwestern Wildcats in the 2005 Sun Bowl, 50-38.
It was Jones-Drew’s final game on the college gridiron.
He decided to skip his senior season and declare for the 2006 NFL Draft.
Jones-Drew had 2,503 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on 481 carries in his three-year college football career.
Maurice Jones-Drew would eventually become one of the best running backs in Jacksonville Jaguars history.
Pro Football Career
The Jacksonville Jaguars made Maurice Jones-Drew the 60th overall selection of the 2006 NFL Draft.
60 days until the NFL season!
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Maurice Jones-Drew 6️⃣0️⃣th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.
In their first 6 seasons, only 2 players accumulated at least 6,800 Rush yds, 2,400 rec yds, and 70 total TD:
LaDainian Tomlinson pic.twitter.com/iNECMf4b1F
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) July 12, 2020
Surprisingly, Jones-Drew almost became a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
After Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James left in free agency, the Colts had a massive void at running back.
Colts head coach Tony Dungy told Jones-Drew if he ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, they would draft him.
Jones-Drew ran a 4.3 so he thought it was only a matter of time before he’d wear the Horseshoe.
However, Indianapolis wound up drafting the LSU Tigers’ Joseph Addai. It turned out Colts GM and team president Bill Polian wanted him instead.
“That’s Bill Polian,” Jones-Drew told The Dave Dameshek Football Program (via StampedeBlue.com’s Josh Wilson) in February 2017. “It’s Bill Polian. It was Bill; he had the last say, and at the end of the day that’s kind of how you go. That hurt. That hurt.”
While Addai helped the Colts win Super Bowl XLI, Jones-Drew went on to torment Indianapolis in the ensuing years.
He had 1,451 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 games against the Colts in his nine-year NFL career.
It was obvious he carried a chip on his shoulder against Indianapolis.
Jones-Drew ran into Polian one time and reminded him of his draft day snub, per Wilson:
“Oh, you know I saw him,” Jones-Drew said. “And I was like, ‘So, Bill…’ And he was like, ‘Well, we won a ring, so….'”
“Yeah, but I said some other stuff that I can’t say on air, but I was like, ‘Yeah, I terrorized you.'”
Not only did the man known as “MJD” terrorize the Colts, but he also terrorized the entire league as well.
He had at least 9,200 all-purpose yards and 70 touchdowns after his sixth year in the pro ranks.
During that stretch, he had three seasons with at least 1,324 rushing yards.
Jacksonville was an average team during the height of MJD’s NFL career. The Jaguars averaged just seven wins over a six-year stretch from 2006 to 2011.
They also made the postseason just once during that span.
Nonetheless, Jones-Drew piled up on the accolades.
He became a three-time Pro Bowl, Second Team All-Pro, and two-time First-Team All-Pro selection from 2006 to 2011.
Jones-Drew loved harnessing the power of social media.
He tweeted “Hey I think the Urban Meyer rule is in effect now…When the going gets tough….QUIT” when Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler sprained his MCL during the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers in 2011.
All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one…
— Maurice Jones-Drew (@MJD) January 23, 2011
The tweet earned the ire of Bears fans. Some of them even sent Jones-Drew death threats, per The Associated Press (via ESPN).
“I never attacked him, called him soft or a sore loser,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I never questioned his toughness. I think people took my joke out of context. I was taking a shot at Florida fans.”
Jones-Drew enjoyed his finest pro season in 2011. He led the league with 1,606 rushing yards that year.
However, his production dwindled considerably over the next two-year stretch: he had a combined 1,217 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2012 and 2013.
MJD returned to UCLA in March 2013 to complete his bachelor’s degree.
“You’re never too old to learn, and that’s been one of the great things,” he told SI.com’s Jim Trotter. “I’m about to turn twenty-eight and I’m learning things that I didn’t know. I’ve also met some good people; so it’s been a really positive experience.”
Back then, Jones-Drew thought of becoming an NFL GM, lawyer, or part of an NFL ownership group after his pro football career, per Trotter.
Maurice Jones-Drew made headlines when he allegedly punched a security guard at the Conch House restaurant in St. Augustine, FL in May 2013, per TMZ (via The Mercury News).
TMZ gathered a police report that said Jones-Drew’s punch was intentional. Jones-Drew allegedly threw the punch after security told one of his friends to stop touching a young female.
Maurice Jones-Drew Bar Assault Allegations: Attorney for Security Guard Claims Videotape Exists Showing Sucker Punch
— Sportsfeedia.com (@sportsfeedia) May 30, 2013
Jones-Drew’s friend reportedly slapped the security guard on his chest, triggering a melee at the restaurant.
The security guard testified to police he had “a swollen jaw and a large lump on his face.” Hospital tests revealed he had contusions and a bone bruise.
Jones-Drew wasn’t charged in the incident. He became a free agent at the end of the 2013 NFL campaign.
He signed a three-year deal with his hometown Oakland Raiders on March 28, 2014.
The move reunited him with high school teammate Nick Holz.
Holz told Tafur that Jones-Drew hadn’t changed one bit since the last time they saw each other a decade ago.
“He was pretty much the exact same person then that he is today,” Holz said. “He is a true professional. He does his job and has a great time doing it.”
Maurice Jones-Drew had a cameo appearance in the film “When The Game Stands Tall” featuring Jim Caviezel.
Caviezel portrayed Jones-Drew’s high school football coach Bob Ladouceur. The film’s trailer was released in April 2014.
Jones-Drew sold his lakefront home in Jacksonville, FL for $745,000 on November 10, 2014.
The three-time Pro Bowler purchased the two-story house which was originally built in 1999 for $850,000 in 2006. It takes up almost 4,100 square feet of living space and includes a fireplace, home gym, five bedrooms, and five bathrooms.
Jones-Drew sold the house eight months after he signed his deal with the Raiders.
He was a shadow of himself in his hometown of Oakland. MJD had just 96 rushing yards on 43 carries in twelve games for the Raiders in 2014.
It was also the only time in his NFL career when he didn’t score a touchdown.
Oakland was a mess in the 2014 NFL season. The Raiders won just three games that year. They also fell out of postseason contention for the twelfth straight season.
Jones-Drew announced his retirement from the NFL via Twitter on March 6, 2015:
All good things come to an end!!! pic.twitter.com/zl6EJQ5SAE
— Maurice Jones-Drew (@MJD) March 5, 2015
Jones-Drew signed a one-day contract with the Jaguars to retire as a member of the organization on April 28, 2005.
He had 8,167 rushing yards and 68 rushing touchdowns on 1,847 carries in his nine-year NFL stint.
MJD currently has the most career rushing touchdowns and career touchdowns (81) in Jacksonville Jaguars franchise history.
He is also the second all-time career rushing leader in franchise history behind Fred Taylor (11,271 rushing yards).
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) March 5, 2015
Jones-Drew holds six other franchise records, including most rushing touchdowns in a season (15), most rushing yards in a season (1,608), and longest kickoff return (100 yards).
Make no mistake about it; Maurice Jones-Drew was one of the best running backs to ever don Jaguars Teal, Black, and Gold.
Maurice Jones-Drew and his wife Ashley have two sons, Maurice II and Madden, and a daughter, Alayah. They currently reside in the Bay Area.
Jones-Drew never gave in to the temptation to become a venture capitalist or investor after he hung up his cleats.
He recalled the time when his grandfather told him to stick to his football roots at all costs, per Recode Media’s Kurt Wagner:
“My grandpa always used to tell me, ‘Dude, you’re a football player. You’re not an engineer. You’re not an investor. You’re none of this.”
“Your whole life, you’ve played football. You went to college. Let’s be honest: you went to UCLA, got a good education, but you went to play football, so be a football player.”
Jones-Drew confessed to Wagner that low investment rates scared him. He added he grew up with hardly any money.
Jones-Drew, who earned roughly $36 million in his nine-year NFL career, told Recode Media he’d like to keep his earnings “as long as I can.”
Jones-Drew took his grandfather’s advice to heart.
— Toney Mcfadden (@ToneyMcfadden1) May 4, 2019
He’s currently working as an NFL Network analyst and color commentator for the Los Angeles Rams. He joined the NFL Network five months after he retired.
Jones-Drew told Recode Media in 2018 that Thursday is his longest day of the week as a football analyst because he works on fantasy football.
He typically does taping from eight o’clock in the morning until noon. After a two-hour break, Jones-Drew writes several articles for NFL.com.
MJD also hosts a fantasy football talk show on SiriusXM called “Runnin’ With MJD.”
Jones-Drew opened a fitness center in the Bay Area in 2017. He told Recode Media he funded everything himself. His friends train there regularly.
Maurice-Jones Drew became a member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame that same year.