Imagine being drafted to the Buffalo Bills a few months after their first trip to the Super Bowl in 1991.
Imagine walking into the locker room to meet your new teammates – who by then, if not shortly thereafter, would be considered NFL legends.
You would instantly be part of a dynasty.
Henry Jones had just such luck.
“It really hit me when I got to Buffalo,” he said. “I knew when I got drafted that it was going to be a special place at a special time, but when I stepped into the facility and met Jim and met Bruce and Andre and Thurman, I knew we were in for one heck of a ride.”
And one heck of a ride it was. Jones, the 26th pick in the 1991 Draft, would go on to play in three Super Bowls and a pro Bowl during his successful career as a safety with the Bills.
In the days when rookies often laid low during their first year in the NFL, Jones waited in the wings and learned from the greats before his breakout game in 1992.
“I have so many memories of great people and great times in Buffalo, tremendous people on and off the field,” he said. “But I think the biggest thing that comes to mind is my first start against the LA Rams. I had two interceptions in that game. It really established me for the Bills.”
He would total eight interceptions in that Pro Bowl garnering season, tacking on an additional interception in the postseason that many Bills fans will forever remember as a game-changer during the Greatest Comeback in NFL history.
“The crowd was going insane and the team just got so excited, and there was nothing Houston could do,” Jones said. “Even though Warren Moon had a great game up to that point, it was just a snowball effect after that.”
After retiring in 2002, Jones wasn’t looking to leave all of his football memories behind, so he headed to Atlanta and began coaching high school football. Of course, the 9th graders he coaches weren’t born during the Bills Super Bowl era, but the excitement of having a former NFL player as a coach isn’t lost on them.
“They ask me questions every day about it,” he said. “How many interceptions did you have? What was it like to go to the Super Bowl? It’s really fun to share those memories and moments and I have a lot of stories to share with them.”
Not only does he share stories, but also some of the basic Bills defensive concepts and coverages of the early 90s. With three kids of his own, ages 11, 13 and 17, he says he knows he's not just a coach, but a role model for his players.
“It’s a funny age group, the 12, 14 year old boys,” Jones said, laughing. “They’re transitioning from being babies to young men. It’s really challenging and a lot of fun to see. The most fun I have is when I see them playing on varisty. That’s a lot of joy for me to know I helped bring them along and mature them and help them become the players they are now.”
Before each Bills home game, one alumnus is chosen to wave the Bills flag over the tunnel and ‘Lead the Charge’ as the team runs onto the field. For his many contributions to the Bills organization, Jones will be back to Lead the Charge before kickoff at the Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens game this Sunday.
“To spend ten years of your life at one franchise, giving your heart and soul, and receiving all the love and praise from the fans up there, it’s really a dream come true,” he said, of his appreciation for being chosen to Lead the Charge on Sunday. “I love coming back. I just love the fans, I love the franchise, and any time I get the opportunity to go back it’s an honor and a privilege. I just thank God that I was blessed to have been there. It’s such a great honor.”