The Pepsi #FanEnough Mobile tour recently made its sixth stop at the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins Sunday night game last week. As a part of their promotion, it provides fan animations—a fun way to prove that you’re #FanEnough by hopping in front of a green screen and showing what you got.
The way it works is the fan stands in front of the green screen while a team of editors create custom football-based animations behind them. The fanimations are then recorded and randomly selected to be shown on stadium Jumbotrons throughout the game.
Ed "Too Tall" Jones is one of many former NFL players working with Pepsi as a part of its #FanEnough tour, and I was afforded the privilege of interviewing the Hall of Famer.
Dilan Ames: Hello Mr. Jones, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. So, many people know you for your height, of course, but you were actually a big part of breaking the racial barrier in the NFL. How did it feel to be the first football player from a historically black college to be selected first overall?
Ed Jones: I was very honored, first of all, and shocked and I still am. Coming out of Tennessee State which was a very good Division II program. I had a great coaching staff and I am always saying how somebody helped me along the way.
I didn’t play high school football, and had I gone to a Division I school, you probably wouldn’t have ever heard of Ed Jones because they have so much talent at those schools that they wouldn’t have been able to bring me along slowly like you have to. Those coaches spent a lot of time with me and I paid a hell of a price, worked very hard. One of the things that they taught me was work ethic, so because of that and the Dallas Cowboys having scouted me when I was just a sophomore at Tennessee State, everything had to fall into place.
The year before, the Dallas Cowboys traded with the Houston Oilers. They traded Toby Smith and Billy Parks for Houston’s No. 1 pick and Houston finished last.
Like I said, Dallas had watched me for three years and felt that I was the guy, and I am so glad and thankful they did because I was a big Cowboys fan growing up as a kid.
DA: Alright, so you're five years deep into your NFL career, you have a Super Bowl ring and a quickly growing legend, yet you decide to leave to pursue a boxing career. What was the deciding factor for you to switch sports and focus on Ed Jones the boxer instead of Ed Jones the football player?
EJ: Boxing was my favorite sport when I was a kid. My father was a big fight fan and every kid wants to be like their dad, so I spent a lot of time at the gym, you know the Golden Gloves. I always knew one day I would box, but at the same time, I wanted to pursue football.
After four years I decided it was time to move on, and I gave the Cowboys my year’s notice that I would not be returning and played out my option year.
Just getting that elephant off my back was one of the best career moves I ever made because the next 10 years were the best years of my career.
DA: Do you think that going to boxing then returning to the NFL helped you get refocused on your football career?
EJ: It did because in my first five years I went to three Super Bowls, and you’d think that would be enough. My mind was still in the ring and so I just had to get that elephant off my back and prove to myself and do something that I really wanted to do instead of being 40 years old and never pursued my dream.
Not a lot of us get to go through life and have an opportunity to do that, so it was very important to me to give it a shot.
DA: There are many reasons why players decide to retire from the NFL. What was your reasoning to hang ‘em up?
EJ: A couple of things. First of all I played 15 years and never missed a game. Then they let Coach Landry go, who I had played for for 14 years. I thought a lot of that man and he thought a lot of me, so I thought then was the time to give it up, but Coach Johnson and Butch Davis convinced to come back and play another year and I said, "You know what? Let me see what it’s like to play in another system and a new organization."
Even though we were 1-15 that year, it was a fun experience for me, and I knew those guys would turn that team around.