OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — He is known as “The Godfather” of Raider Nation. Friends and family are mourning the death of Greg Jones.
Close friends say he was not only a lifelong Raiders fan but also passionate about giving back to his community. When cheering along the sidelines of Raiders games, there were fans, superfans, and then there was Greg “Griz” Jones, who was truly in a category of his own.
The lifelong fan, who passed away Wednesday after a battle with cancer at age 52, is most remembered for his seemingly unending fight to keep the Raiders in Oakland — long after others had packed up their bags to go home.
“We ended up doing 72 hour tailgates so everybody was curious wanted to know what that was all about,” said Julie Morton who is a friend of Jones. “He welcomed everybody with opened arms.”
Morton met Jones, affectionately known as “The Godfather Griz,” almost 10 years ago.
“He’s very iconic in this area, a lot of people knew him not just here but across the United States and the world,” Morton said. “He made a lot of contacts this is a huge loss.”
But to friends, “The Griz” was more than just an advocate for the team, he was a father figure.
“I first met him at about 22,” Ray Perez, a friend of Jones, said. “He just welcomed me like I was family he became a brother he became a mentor.”
Perez and Morton were members of the “66th M.O.B.,” standing for “Making Oakland Better.” But the group itself was about far more than simply bonding over a football team. The “M.O.B.” and Jones, in particular, loved giving back to the community.
“While people would leave Oakland or leave the East Bay, he would come back and give back to the homeless,” Perez said. “Almost every year, every winter, we would go out to East Oakland and feed the homeless and give back.”
Those efforts, eventually leading to the creation of his nonprofit “Forever Oakland,” similarly committed to helping the homeless. Shortly after the news of his death, tributes began pouring in on social media from the Mayor of Oakland to city councilmembers, county supervisors and of course, his beloved former team.
“He had a love-hate relationship with things that were forever Oakland,” said Chief Financial Officer of “Forever Oakland” Chris Leighton. “Unfortunately, when the team left to go to Las Vegas you know that drove a stake in his heart and that really hurt him and that’s what really made him double down on we’re going to do more for Oakland.”
KRON On is streaming news live now
Leighton, who called Jones a brother, is now committed to ensuring that Jones’ nonprofit “Forever Oakland” lives on.
“He gave without asking for anything in return up until the very last minute,” Leighton said. “He never wanted anything from anybody other than to be honest and just be sincere about yourself and give with all your heart.”
Jones’ close friends are raising money for funeral service.