Tennessee Titans' starting center Ben Jones made headlines on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, by performing the tradition of walking around barefoot at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
The catch? Although Ben has kept up with the ritual for years, Sunday marked one of the first times he was caught on camera walking around in heavy snow. So, where does the habit come from, and how does it relate to Ben's brother? Did something happen to him?
Ben Jones walks around barefoot on the field in honor of his brother before every game.
The ritual began back when Ben and his older brother, Clay, were still in high school, as per ESPN. Being superstitious, Clay asked Ben to walk around the field before the game began. They had no time to put on shoes, so they headed out barefoot. The team won that night — which is how the tradition started.
Ben confirmed that he walks on the field before each game to honor his brother — but he has not confirmed if Clay has passed away. However, fans on Twitter seem to think that is the case.
"Ben Jones walks onto the field in every game he plays on in bare feet and says a prayer for his brother that passed away. He wasn’t [going to] let snow change that," tweeted @dskeenen.
"@Johnston985 if you were talking about barefoot Ben Jones he's doing it as a memory to his brother who passed away," wrote @CAshNEPatriots.
Clay used to be a high school athlete just like Ben. He played for the Detroit Tigers for two years before finishing his college degree in May 2013, as per Houston Chronicle. Reportedly, he had to quit the team due to a hand injury. It's uncertain if he ever returned to the world of professional sports.
Ben Jones lost his dad when he was just 10 years old.
Ben opened up about his childhood experiences in a previous interview with The Tennessean. As the NFL player told the outlet, his father, Steve, died in a helicopter crash when he was just 10 years old.
"It was tough because I really relied on my Dad [...] But my mom just stepped in and was a real rock. She was the discipline in the house," Ben told The Tennessean.
Whenever he can, Ben wears the No. 60 jersey in honor of his father, as it was the number he wore while playing football in high school.
Shortly after the tragedy, Ben had to undergo another, equally harrowing experience.
He and his mother were attending a baseball game when the incident struck. Eager to head back to her, he accidentally ran into the warm-up swing of a player.
"I started throwing up because there was a blood clot was pressing on my brain, making me sick [...] It was very bad. I had to have emergency surgery to get rid of the blood clot on the brain. They went ahead and opened my head up and drained the blood clots out," Ben told The Tennessean.
Due to the injury, Ben had to stop playing youth football for a season. He was back on the playing field as soon as his condition improved.