Retired NFL player helps reach teens

David Jones

At an early age, David Jones realized he had a special gift. By age nine, football was already second nature to him. “It’s the only place I felt free,” he said. Born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Jones took his athletic talent to Delaware State University where he became their all-time leading receiver; three-time All-Conference champion and two-time All-American athlete. He graduated from college in 1991 with a degree in Marketing and was soon drafted by the NFL. His professional career includes playing for the San Diego Chargers, the Los Angeles Raiders, the Cleveland Browns and a brief time in the European League.

A towering figure at 6’4″, Jones has a commanding presence and authenticity when he speaks. He recently partnered with Drug Free Collier and has shared his message with almost 20,000 students in our community to-date. Jones leverages his background as a professional athlete to empower local teens.

He founded Athletes Against Bullies, Inc. in 2014 in response to growing concerns about the impact of bullying on individuals, schools, families and communities. The underlying concept behind his work is that with great power comes great responsibility. Since athletes are often the strongest, fastest and most influential individuals on campus, Jones believes they have an obligation to step up and protect others. His talk inspires athletes and non-athletes alike.

Jones also encourages students to focus on their education and speaks candidly about the challenges he’s faced as a result of a conscious decision he made early in life not to learn. Even though he never missed a single day of school, he was “checked out”during class and had decided that school wasn’t for him. With all his attention on sports, he was banking on cashing in on hisathletic skills. His ticket out of Newark and into the NFL was playing ball, he said. He saw no reason to learn. “I can pay someone else,” he recalls thinking. That became a costly decision for Jones. “I let others handle everything and everybody took my money because I couldn’t read contracts,” he added.

As a result, he’s been homeless, suicidal, and experienced other life challenges after leaving the NFL. He tells students, “You can decide not to get an education and struggle like me.” Or you can take advantage of all the opportunities you have in school to become a better person.

His message reinforces what parents and teachers have said for years: pay attention in school. However, having a retired NFL player deliver that message and illustrate the importance of a good education with personal examples and real-world experiences allows that message to truly sink in.

Students are often engaged from the moment Jones walks into their school. After each visit, many students will follow up with a note to Jones about what they learned during his presentation. “When a student writes about you, you know you have made an impact,” said Kimberly Lonergan, Principal of Oakridge Middle School.

Guy Blanchette, President and CEO of Drug Free Collier, understands that the messenger is just as important as the message, when reaching teens. “Jones provides Drug Free Collier with a strong platform to help deliver our message,” he added. Jones serves as Vice President of the NFL Alumni – SWFL Chapter. He is also a member of the Gulf Coast Football Officials Association.

To schedule a presentation or learn more about Drug Free Collier, contact 239.302.6717 or visit

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