The second he met him, University of Findlay football coach Rob Keys knew there was something special about Harold Jones-Quartey, who wasted no time proclaiming his intention to play for the National Football League.
“Even from day one, there’s been a leadership aspect to your charisma. You’re not only a good player, you’re a good person,” Keys told Jones-Quartey during the Feb. 10 Fridays at Findlay executive speaker event. “He is one of the most competitive people I’ve been around, and he’s such a caring and giving guy,” he told the breakfast crowd.
Having graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice, and now playing as the Chicago Bears’ starting defensive back, Jones Quartey has worked hard to succeed. Originally from Ghana, he immigrated to the United States as a child. His love for European-style soccer translated to American football, enabling him to play for the Columbus Crusaders, a Christian-based club team. Encouraged by his mother to prioritize academics, he chose to attend UF, which nurtured his classroom learning while providing him with the opportunity to continue pursuing his NFL dream.
Jones-Quartey began playing for the Bears after graduation, and said he still considers it “a dream come true… every single day.” Given that he is in the midst of his first three-year contract with the iconic team, he continues to work hard to stay on it. “There’s always a constant striving,” Jones-Quartey said. “There’s no complacency.”
Jones-Quartey admitted that he misses the college football atmosphere, which is more close-knit than at the professional level. His cohort of teammates developed a strong camaraderie on the field and off of it. He said he is godfather to Tre Williams-Brown’s child, and was close to other players such as Chris Reaper and Daiquone Ford.
“The NFL is a tough business,” he admitted. “There is a lot of politics, a lot of things going into it. What sustains him, however, is God. “When times get hard… I get down on my knees and pray, and I get strength. Faith is No. 1 to me. You’ve got to have something larger than yourself to believe in. Because life is too hard,” he said. That lesson was instilled in him during his club football years, which promoted a policy of “God first, football second.”
The advice he offered to current UF players: “Don’t ever lose faith in yourself. Don’t ever lose confidence. And don’t just have blind faith – be willing to work like nobody else is working.”
Jones-Quartey said he intends to do just that, and therefore sees his future as promising.
“Man, there’s nowhere to go but up. It’s a tough business for tough people. Next year is my contract year, so I’ve gotta play hard to stay in the league,” he said.
When his playing career ends, Jones-Quartey said he’d like to stay involved in football by becoming a coach. “I love the game, but I love the relationships more,” he maintained. “Maybe I can get a GA job somewhere and learn from somebody. I know I want to stay in the game.”