Farewell to a Turtleneck

james jonesBy Jon Meerdink Lost in the fervor of the Julius Peppers signing and the build up to the NFL Draft is one of the Packers few notable departures this year: wide receiver James Jones.

If there were any free agent losses this off-season that were entirely predictable, it was this one. Jones turns 30 next Monday and the odds of Ted Thompson offering a contract extension to an aging receiver not named Donald Driver are approaching zero. But still, it's sad to see him go.

We've learned recently, if we didn't know it already, that athletes aren't always who they seem on the outside. But James Jones seems to defy the cynic in me, seeming for all the world to actually be the guy he says he is.

He was never flashy, never put up gaudy numbers, and never made a Pro Bowl during his seven seasons in Green Bay. Through most of his time with the Packers, you might have a hard time making the case that he was even the Packers number two receiver, much less anything approaching a number one. But still, he never complained. He did his job, flashed a smile, and wore his turtleneck every week.

James Jones might be headed to Oakland to see his career fall off a cliff. The Raiders are far from settled at quarterback heading into this season and they haven't really had a good once since Rich Gannon. Jones did what any professional should do, though, and got the money when he could. This was his last shot at a good contract, and he took it. There's no shame in that.

He leaves Green Bay with a Super Bowl ring, a (somewhat inexplicable) 14 touchdown season, and a legacy as one of the players who helped bridge the Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers transition. Ultimately, he'll probably be just a small blip in the story of the Green Bay Packers...but he's a quality guy, a definite loss for the team, and a pretty good football player too. It's sad to see him go.

Also, he wore a funny hat that one time.

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