Loren Smith’s Column: Jonas, Giving Back

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2022

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Loren Smith’s Column: Jonas, Giving Back



Somewhere along the way in recent years, I saw an interesting

statement that has been retained and is especially remembered during the

Thanksgiving season.

While the details are difficult to recall with specifics, there was the

statement that those who have less give more. Those with the largest

assets or greatest accumulation, percentagewise, give less.

I am always thankful during the Thanksgiving season for those who

do for others. The charitable organizations, the food banks and individuals

who give priority to seeing that families in need are the beneficiary of a

good meal at Thanksgiving.


Jonas Jennings, who is Director of Player Development for the

Georgia football team has given countless hours to extend a helping hand

to the families in the Tri-Cities area of Hapeville, College Park and East


If you know the story of his altruism, you know that his influence to

share with others was stimulated by his mother Nettie Sumlin. While she

was not blessed with abundant assets, she had a giving and loving heart.


When Jonas’ friends came to his house, they were always included when

mealtime came about.

Her influence had a consequential influence on Jonas. It began with

her impact on him as a person. Treat people right, share what you have

and be a good student.

That last reference was extremely important to his mother. Jonas, as

an accomplished athlete, has won a number of awards and has

accumulated trophies, plaques, rings and watches. She doesn’t care how

many citations have come his way—they are for him to do as he

wishes—but his academic and philanthropic awards she has kept for

herself. That should tell you something about her philosophy.


This is why a story about his athletic achievements as a football

player is not as important to her as his Thanksgiving initiative. Each

November, Jonas finds a way to raise enough money to make sure all his

friends and neighbors in the Tri-Cities help him make sure that every

resident gets a turkey for Thanksgiving.


During his time at Georgia, he has kept an eye out for ways to help

his hometown(s). He has raised money and has worked with food


suppliers to feed hundreds of families in the Tri-Cities the last Thursday in


If you know Jonas, you can’t help but like him. You hear him before

you see him. He is a big man with a big laugh. There is a warmth in his

makeup that gives off a “feel good” emotion that this eight-year veteran of

the National Football League has a heart as big as he is—a 280-pound

lineman who could move defensive players about with abandon during his

time in the NFL.

When he played at Georgia, lettering in 97-2000, he was recognized

as a good teammate by all who knew him, including Kirby Smart who

played with Jonas although Kirby, as a defensive back, lined up on the

opposite side of the ball.

A very good student, Jonas was given to doing what he could to help

his teammates with any academic need which included writing papers.

With a maturity that was exceptional, he influenced his teammates to stay

out of trouble and to apply diligence to earning a degree.


As a player he was a most versatile offensive lineman, playing tackle,

guard, and center. He was selected All-SEC and honorable mention All-



Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the third round of the 2001 draft, he

left campus with a degree in Sports Studies. He played for the Bills 2001-

2004 and then spent 2005-2008 with the San Francisco 49ers.

It would be my guess that while he wasn’t the highest paid player in

the league, nobody managed his money better. After pro ball, he spent

more than ten years working in philanthropy in College Park, where he

grew up.

Jonas Jennings certainly has not hidden his light under a bushel. He

is a community hero in the communities surrounding the Atlanta Airport.

And, I am happy to say is a hero of mine.