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One Great Raider: George "Run Run" Jones

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One Great Raider: George

Do you recognize him?

Did you know this guy, Run Run Jones?

I’m sad to say that I did not know who he was. I don’t recall seeing him at Raiders games in the ‘70’s and until the move to Los Angeles when I attended most home games; but he was there.

I did see him in recent years as I looked into my TV set at Raiders Games. I guess I kind of took him for granted. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had inquired and found out who he was. Recently, I did. [Thanks to Mr. Transister for permission to use his great photo of Run Run]

Here we go again down memory lane. If you’ve ever been to a Raiders’ game in recent memory, or even in not-so-recent memory, or if you’ve looked closely into your TV set as I did, you may recognize this guy: George `Run Run’ Jones. One Great Raider .

Run Run Jones never suited up or ran with the football, but every Raider player, every employee, and a great many fans knew him. He passed away Dec. 16, 2006. He was working at Raiders’ HQ when he died from an apparent heart attack. Although retired, he continued working part-time until his death at age 77.

Run Run Jones was a Raiders guy for 43 years.

Imagine.

He came to work for the Oakland Raiders in 1963. That same year, another guy first came to work for the Oakland Raiders: Al Davis. Al became the head coach and general  manager. Run Run Jones became a manager too: equipment manager.

And, hey, what does that say about one great organization? Maintaining a relationship with the equipment guy for 43 years? Do you know any other organization that would do that? Do you know of any other business Pres. besides Al Davis who would do that? I don’t.

Yes, Run Run Jones was the long time equipment manager of the Oakland Raiders. His official title became Clubhouse Assistant. He and Al were born the same year 1929.

He was a genuine hero prior to joining the Raiders. He joined the Navy, served in Korea, and was captured and held POW by the North Koreans. Born in Coal Valley, Illinois Oct. 26, 1929, he ran away at 15 and joined a circus. Later he moved to California as an athlete and then in Hollywood films.

Did you ever hear of Roller Derby? It was a popular sport in California and on TV a number of years back. George Jones got his nickname, `Run Run’, as a star with the “Bay Bombers.” He had small roles in films with Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

For steadier employment, Run Run established a janitorial services company with operations in San Lorenzo, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Then he and Davis came to the Raiders in 1963. I wish I knew the story of how Run Run came to be with the Raiders. Maybe a reader here knows and can pass that info along?

You could often spot Run Run at home games—he stood out by waving a white towel on the sideline to exhort the crowd. He was widely recognized by fans who shouted his name whenever he surfaced at a Raiders function or game. He responded to the numerous greetings with his customary, "How you doing, handsome?'' even to those he knew for years.

Run Run was often given special credit by the Raiders.

Here’s an example: The Raiders were playing at the Bills Oct. 18, 1999: Raiders’ Eric Allen intercepted a Doug Flutie pass & Flutie tackled him at the sideline. An official threw a flag as the players disappeared into a group of spectators on the sidelines—15 yards for unnecessary roughness on the Raiders. Replay couldn’t discern what happened (although Doug Flutie claimed Raiders’ DE Lance Johnstone gave him a shot after the play).

Following the game, coach Jon Gruden told reporters, "I don't know what happened there. We're going to ask the league for an investigation.” Then, smiling, Gruden added, "Until we find out, we're going to blame it on (clubhouse assistant) 'Run Run' Jones."

Family, friends & Raiders past and present paid tribute to Run Run at a memorial celebration of his life a few days after his passing. He was described as a legend and icon of the Raiders who never missed a Raiders game in 43 years.

One consistent thought of Run Run: he was a nice guy to all who knew him or met him. He took care of Raiders players for 43 years. He wore three Super Bowl Rings, and he was glad to show ‘em to you or even let you borrow one for a photo opportunity of you with him.

You’ll likely recognize these personages at the memorial who told stories & described Run Run’s many contributions to the Raiders: Amy Trask, Art Shell, Jim Otto, Willie Brown, Marcus Allen, Fred Biletnikoff, Marv Hubbard, Ben Davidson, Garrett Giemont, & Shane Lechler who was selected to speak for current teammates.

A video tribute showed an interview with Run Run conducted by Raiders TV in 2004 and there were messages from John Madden, Tim Brown, Bruce Allen, Bob Casullo & Jeff George. I wish I’d been there to help celebrate the life of George Run Run Jones.

 

ONE GREAT RAIDER !

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