Ohio residents know Cardale Jones as the former Ohio State quarterback who won the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship.
He’s now obviously also a member of the Los Angeles Chargers.
But Jones will be suiting up in a new uniform soon as he was appointed Special Deputy of Ottawa County in Ohio last summer. During this offseason, he returned with a mission in mind.
“How do we bridge the gap between our youth and law enforcement?” Jones pondered as his mission’s focus. “I looked up to Shaquille O’Neal growing up and I knew he was a special deputy. It was always a cool thing and I looked at it as a way to bridge the gap between the (youth) and law enforcement.”
While he admits he’s not looking for a career in law enforcement post-football, Jones said he chose to pursue the special appointment after his experiences growing up.
“Coming from inner-city Cleveland, (we) didn’t always have the utmost respect for officers. I just remember being a kid and just running whenever I’d see a police officer. That was the norm for us. That was the stigma. Just being young and a product of my circumstances and environment, that was something that we did for no reason.”
But now, he’s trying to change that narrative. After meeting Ottawa County Sheriff Stephen Levorchick through a mutual friend, the two hit it off and Levorchick swore the QB in.
“This community loves any time he’s in town and I take him anywhere,” mentioned Levorchick. “His stature, having won a National Championship as an Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback, has him elevated way beyond any sheriff. But with the youth, they don’t want to listen to some 55-year-old sheriff. They could care less what I have to say. But when Cardale Jones speaks, they’re on the edge of their seats. They’re listening. They want photos taken with him. They will listen to that message from him.”
Jones says he understands what Levorchick means. After all, the kid that once looked up to Shaq now gets the opportunity to be that person for someone else.
“Being a younger person and seeing that Shaq was a special deputy, then there must have been something that he loved about law enforcement,” Jones reminisced. “There must be something that he could tell us. I was willing to listen to Shaq because he was one of my role models and still (is) to this day. Being able to play that role potentially for a kid whose (shoes I was in), it means a lot to me.”
Levorchick said Jones will be fitted for a uniform later in the offseason. As for some of the QB’s duties? While he already spoke at a Father/Son banquet at Trinity United Church of Christ in Elliston a couple weeks ago, both believe he’ll be heavily involved in speaking to schools in the near future, helping connect with younger generations.
“I want to do some things as far as go into these communities and go into these schools…. I want to help the community get a sense for how stressful an officer’s job may be on a daily basis, but maybe that can help us as citizens and change our interactions with them.”
“I’m going to take him with me and we’re going to stop at different schools throughout the county,” Levorchick added. “We have six school districts in Ottawa County. We’re going to stop at the schools and get out and walk through the schools. We’ll stop in different classrooms and let him talk to the kids a little bit…. I think he’s got such great leadership qualities. He’s a great role model to our youth and the youth of Ohio. Now being in the National Football League, he’s a great role model to the youth of our entire country.”