Don Jonas
Born: (1938-12-03) December 3, 1938 (age 85)
Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Career information
CFL statusAmerican
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight195 lb (88 kg)
CollegePenn State
High schoolWest Scranton
(Scranton, Pennsylvania)
Career history
As coach
As player
1962Philadelphia Eagles
1963–1964Harrisburg Capitols
1965Newark Bears
1966–1969Orlando Panthers
1970Toronto Argonauts
19711974Winnipeg Blue Bombers
1974Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star1971, 1972
CFL West All-Star1971, 1972
Awards1963 - Atlantic Coast Football League MVP
1966 to 1968 - Continental Football League MVP
1971 - CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award

Donald Walter Jonas (born December 3, 1938) is a former American football player and coach. Jonas played in the American minor leagues (semi-pro) and the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was also the first head coach of the UCF Knights (1979–1981).[1]

Playing career

College football

Jonas played college football at Penn State University. His first season was 1958, and he did not play (was red-shirted) in 1959. In 1960, as a running back, he ran 49 times for 238 yards (4.9 yard average) and two touchdowns. He also caught six passes, completed 3 of 7 passes, intercepted three opponent passes and returned seven punts. In 1961, he gained 149 yards in 31 attempts (4.8 average) and caught five passes, scoring two touchdowns. He also returned punts and kickoffs.

Proving to be a versatile player, he was drafted by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in the 13th round (182nd overall) of the 1961 NFL Draft. His time with the Eagles was very short. He played in only one game in the 1962 season.

Coincidentally, his Penn State quarterback Peter Liske would also go on to star in the CFL, playing against Jonas and himself winning the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award in 1967.

Minor-league football

Jonas turned to minor league football after his brief stint in the NFL; in the 1960s, the days before big player salaries, this was a viable option for a football player. Both minor-league teams and the CFL offered Jonas playing time and competitive money.

His career minor league stats were 1032 completions in 2085 attempts for 17,183 yards and 171 TDs and 130 interceptions, with 4 MVP awards. His only weakness was his somewhat low completion percentage. In 1967, the American Football League’s Denver Broncos, under Lou Saban, offered him a contract, but Jonas declined the opportunity; Orlando, then paying quite high salaries for a minor league team, also offered Jonas a virtual guarantee of playing time with a winning franchise, something he could not be assured as a backup on the only team in the AFL that up to that point had been a perennial loser.

In 1970, the Panthers, financially strapped because of the high salaries they were paying Jonas and other members of the team, were sold to an ownership group unwilling to maintain the pricey talent their predecessors had, and Jonas was fired. At age 30, with no NFL experience, Jonas determined that the Canadian Football League offered him the best opportunity to continue his football career.

Canadian Football League

Jonas’ first season in the Canadian Football League, 1970, was with the Toronto Argonauts, where he was teamed up with Tom Wilkinson. His 124 completions, 256 passes for 2041 yards (and 17 TDs versus 25 ints) did not help the 8-6 team win the Grey Cup as the Argos lost to the eventual Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes 16–7 in the divisional semi-final.

Moving to the Western Division with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1971, he hit 253 of 485 passes for a stunning 4036 yards with 27 TDs and 31 interceptions. Jonas won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award.

He would play two more full seasons for the Bombers before being traded midway through the 1974 season to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for their quarterback, Chuck Ealey. His 12,291 passing yards is fifth best for a franchise that has many great quarterbacks. None of Jonas’ CFL teams, however, would get to the Grey Cup championship with him at the helm.

His final CFL totals are 977 completions on 1930 attempts for 15064 yards and 98 TDs versus 130 interceptions.

Coaching career

Jonas continued on in football as the voluntary, then permanent head coach of the new football program at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, Florida. The Knights won six of their eight games in their first season, in 1979, but only won eight games in the next two seasons. At the time Jonas coached, the Knights competed at the NCAA Division III level.[1]

Later years

Jonas is now semi-retired, working part-time at an auto-glass replacement shop and playing golf. He has done radio broadcasts of Central Florida football games and had a radio sports talk show for three years. He also officiated high-school football games in the Orlando area, and was honored in 2009 for his achievements.[2][3]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
UCF Knights (NCAA Division III independent) (1979–1981)
1979 UCF 6–2
1980 UCF 4–4–1
1981 UCF 4–6
UCF: 14–12–1
Total: 14–12–1



  1. ^ a b "The Birth of Saturday Knights Live: Part 1 of 8 - The History of UCF Football". University of Central Florida Athletics Association. 2007-06-16. Archived from the original on 2013-01-20. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  2. ^ "2009 Inductees". Central Florida Officials Association. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  3. ^ "Swift Kick Is Only A Memory". Orlando Sentinel. 1991-08-27. Retrieved 2018-07-11.