Monday Night Football always has special meaning to the NFL teams who get a chance to play in prime time. For Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, the Sept. 20 game against the Detroit Lions would be the first game back at the home stadium since the death of his father earlier this year due to complications from COVID-19.
When Jones took the field, he wore a special football-shaped pendant that contained some of his father’s ashes as a way to stay close to him. He athlete had a stellar night on the field despite the emotional homecoming: Jones caught three touchdown passes during the game and added a fourth, collecting 115 total yards to help the Packers beat the Lions 35-17.
But during one of those amazing touchdowns, the unthinkable happened: the pendant disappeared from the chain around Jones’ neck. Jones seemed to be in good humor about it after the game, though.
“I scored and it fell off in the end zone,” he told a Packers reporter in a post-game interview that was shared on Twitter. “I’ll go look for it, but I know he’s happy. He’d be like, ‘If you lose it anywhere, lose it in the end zone.'”
When the reporter asked if Jones had found it, he said no, but the grounds crew was looking for it. Finding a tiny pendant in a huge field that had seen a lot of action during the football game made it unlikely that Jones’ keepsake could be located. But one man made the extra effort to find the treasured piece of jewelry.
The Athletic’s Green Bay Packers beat writer, Matt Schneidman, shared a clip a few hours later, in the middle of the night, of a man out in the endzone carefully looking for Jones’ lost pendant.
It’s almost 2 a.m. and someone (I think it’s head trainer Bryan Engel, but my eyes aren’t great right now) just came back out to look for the necklace holding Aaron Jones’ father’s ashes that he lost on his second TD catch in that part of the end zone. pic.twitter.com/zJ7V1m2GsX
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) September 21, 2021
The early-morning search paid off. The Packers’ head athletic trainer Bryan “Flea” Engel found the pendant and returned it to a grateful Jones, who shared his heartfelt thanks on Twitter less than an hour later.
Found at 1:45am Thank you to our trainer Bryan ”Flea” Engel I’m forever grateful 🙏🏾♥️🕊 pic.twitter.com/ylTlZ5Jpfr
— Aaron Jones 3️⃣3️⃣ (@Showtyme_33) September 21, 2021
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said the effort Engel made to return the lost item to Jones shows the character of both men.
“It says a lot about Aaron Jones, but I think it also says a lot about Flea and what kind of guy he is,” LaFleur said in a press release from the Packers. “(Flea) means so much to us — both of those guys do — and obviously I think Aaron being in the stadium for the first time without his father, that was a pretty big deal and for him to go out there and perform and have four touchdowns, I think that was a pretty big moment for him.”