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#pounditSunday, January 23, 2022

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Maurice Jones-Drew Jags

Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday by posting a message on Twitter saying that “all good things come to an end.”

In his note on the matter, Jones-Drew called his 9-year playing career an “amazing” time and said he is looking forward to the next chapter of his life.

Jones-Drew went from starting his career splitting carries with Fred Taylor in Jacksonville to becoming one of the best backs in the league. The No. 60 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Jones-Drew played with a chip on his shoulder and wanted to prove those who doubted him for his talent or size wrong. He was successful in doing so.

Jones-Drew 4.4 yards per carry during his career, leading the league with 344 carries and 1,606 rushing yards in his All-Pro season in 2011. His peak as a player came from 2009-2011, when he averaged 1,440 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 355 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns per season. He was named to the Pro Bowl all three seasons.

Hampered by injuries, Jones-Drew was let go by the Jags and played last season with the Raiders. He was no longer the same player and only rushed for 96 yards on 43 carries.

Jones-Drew scored 81 touchdowns during his playing career — 68 rushing, 11 receiving, and two on kickoff returns. He is the Jaguars’ second-leading all-time rusher and first in franchise history in rushing touchdowns. Pro-Football-Reference says Earl Campbell, Shaun Alexander, Mike Garrett, Brian Westbrook, Matt Forte, Clinton Portis, Eddie George and Marshawn Lynch are among the players who have had the most similar playing careers to Jones-Drew. That’s not bad company at all.

This is also a sad day for me personally. Jones-Drew was the best college player I saw during my days at UCLA.

Whether it was on special teams or as a rusher or receiver, Mo (then known as Maurice Drew) could score any time he touched the football. He was a special, special player who was so enjoyable to watch. Short in height yet muscular in stature, he was fast, quick and had incredible vision. He was built like a fire hydrant and impossible to bring down, even when he reached the NFL.

Even when UCLA was getting blown out in games, Mo did his best to make the Bruins look respectable, such as when he scored two of UCLA’s three TDs against then-No. 1 Oklahoma as a freshman in 2003. The first time I actually saw him play was in high school when his De La Salle squad took on Southern California powerhouse Long Beach Poly during his junior season in 2001. That game cemented his status as a baller as he scored all four of De La Salle’s touchdowns in their win.

Unfortunately UCLA didn’t recognize Mo’s talents at first, leading him to be underutilized as a freshman. But he completely broke out as a sophomore, highlighted by his 322-yard, five-touchdown performance against Washington. As a junior in 2005 — UCLA’s only good season under head coach Karl Dorrell — Mo scored 20 touchdowns, including 13 as a rusher, four as a receiver and three on punt returns. While USC was shining and Reggie Bush was winning the Heisman, UCLA had a superstar across town who didn’t receive the same hype but was just as good of a player.

It wasn’t just as a rusher or receiver that Jones could make a difference; he was as tough as they come. One of my favorite plays from his career came when he knocked steroid user Shawne Merriman on his rear while blocking on a goal-line play:

They didn’t call him a “pocket Hercules” for nothing. That actually wasn’t his real nickname; as our buddy, former UCLA basketball player Josiah Johnson tells us, Mo was nicknamed “Mo Jangles” back in college. I can’t think of a better nickname.

Mo was a true treasure as a player. He was so enjoyable to watch at De La Salle, UCLA and in the NFL with the Jags. Doubted throughout his career, he persevered and showed how talented he was. As someone who is a professional in the business, I don’t have many favorites anymore, but Mo definitely is and was my last favorite NFL player.

Goodbye, Mo, and thank you for all the jangles.


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