Retiring Bears strength coach a pioneer in his field

He also helped front offices by coming up with an evaluative formula for workout measurables that helps gauge athletic potential. Many teams now use the system, including the Bears, Falcons, Patriots and Colts.

"He was way out in front of the field in terms of analytics and their use," Emery said.

Jones, who has worked with 43 Pro Bowl players, believes his 28 continuous years in the NFL is a record for a strength coach. But the 59-year-old decided it was time to move on, despite the fact the Bears wanted him back.

He plans on retiring to his home on a lake in New Hampshire. That would put Jones closer to his only child, Tyler, a sophomore at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

"I just wanted to be near my son and come back home after almost 30 years away," said Jones, who grew up in Berwick, Maine.

Jones hopes to be remembered as a coach who worked for, listened to and gained the respect of players.

He'll be remembered as much more than that.

"In my mind, Rusty Jones is the most special strength coach there ever was because of his physiological expertise, his passion and the ability to connect with athletes, coaches and staff people alike," Polian said. "I've never come across anyone like him."

Said Emery: "It was a sad moment to hear he was retiring. He used every minute of his 28 years for the betterment of others. That's what sets him apart."

Twitter @danpompei