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Nate Jones, 22-year NFL official, passes away

Nate Jones officiated from 1977 – 1998 and was the side judge in Super Bowl XXVIII.



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Nathan L. Jones, 1938-2019

Nate Jones, a NFL deep wing official from 1977 to 1998 passed away on Nov. 1 at the age of 81. He is is not related to the former NFL player and current official Nate Jones. 

Jones broke into the NFL in 1977 as a line judge on Gordon McCarter’s crew. The next season, the NFL expanded to seven officials, adding the side judge. Jones went to the side judge position and stayed there the rest of his career. He spent most of his career with referee Red Cashion. Jones wore uniform number 97 for the balance of his 22-year tenure.

In 22 seasons, Jones worked 10 playoff games: four wild card rounds, three divisional playoffs, two conference championship games and Super Bowl XXVIII. He also worked the 1981 Pro Bowl.

Off the field, Jones worked in Portland, Oregon as a public school teacher, principal and administrator. 

Jones is survived by his wife Gail, three children and his grandchildren. Our sympathies to all who knew him and loved him. The text of his obituary appears below.

Nathan L. Jones passed away from complications of a stroke, Nov. 1, 2019.

Through education and sports Nathan touched the lives of many. He was a teacher, principal and administrator in the Portland Public School system. He played, coached and officiated in various sports, ultimately retiring from the NFL.

Nathan is survived by his wife, Gail; sons, Nate Jr. and Darryl; daughter, Sandra; and his grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in the chapel on the campus of Lewis & Clark College. In lieu of flowers please make donations to St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church or your favorite charity.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"