Jonas played college football at Penn State University. His first season was 1958, and he did not play (was red-shirted) in 1959. In 1960, as a running back, he ran 49 times for 238 yards (4.9 yard average) and two touchdowns. He also caught six passes, completed 3 of 7 passes, intercepted three opponent passes and returned seven punts. In 1961 he gained 149 yards in 31 attempts (4.8 average) and caught five passes, scoring two touchdowns. He also returned punts and kickoffs.
Proving to be a versatile player, he was drafted by the NFL'sPhiladelphia Eagles in the 13th round (182nd overall) of the 1961 NFL Draft. His time with the Eagles was very short. He played in only one game in the 1962 season.
Jonas turned to minor league football after his brief stint in the NFL; in the 1960s, the days before big player salaries, this was a viable option for a football player. Both semi-pro teams and the CFL offered Jonas playing time and competitive money.
1963 – His first season was with the Harrisburg Capitols of the Atlantic Coast Football League. He started as a receiver, catching 20 passes for 422 yards, but when the quarterback was injured, Jonas stepped behind the center, completing 112 of 233 passes for 1649 yards (11 TDs, 14 interceptions) as well as running for another 455 yards. His team had a 8 win, 3 loss and 1 tie, and Jonas was named the league's Most Valauable Player. He also handled kicking duties, as he would for his entire career.
1964 – Injuries slowed Jonas down, and he only completed 94 of 204 passes for 1264 yards (13 TDs, 16 interceptions). Harrisburg was 4-10.
1966 to 1969 – The Newark Bears moved to become the Orlando Panthers, and won 12, 11, 10 and 10 games in those seasons with Jonas at quarterback, winning the championship in 1967 and 1968 and losing in the final in 1966. Jonas was the league MVP each season from 1966 to 1968. His biggest year, in 1967, saw him throw 407 passes, hitting 203 of them for 3446 yards and 41 TDs, with 21 picks.
His career minor league stats were 1032 completions in 2085 attempts for 17,183 yards and 171 TDs and 130 interceptions, with 4 MVP awards. His only weakness was his somewhat low completion percentage. In 1967, the NFL’s Denver Broncos offered him a contract, but it most certainly paid him less than his MVP Orlando salary. And, by the time the Continental Football League folded, Jonas was the over the age of 30, so Canada was his best option.
Jonas’ first season in the Canadian Football League, 1970, was with the Toronto Argonauts, where he was teamed up with Tom Wilkinson. His 124 completions, 256 passes for 2041 yards (and 17 TDs versus 25 ints) did not help the 8-6 team win the Grey Cup as the Argos lost to the eventual Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes 16-7 in the divisional semi-final.
He would play two more full seasons for the Bombers before being traded midway through the 1974 season to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for their quarterback, Chuck Ealey. His 12,291 passing yards is fifth best for a franchise that has many great quarterbacks. None of Jonas’ CFL teams, however, would get to the Grey Cup championship with him at the helm.
His final CFL totals are 977 completions on 1930 attempts for 15064 yards and 98 TDs versus 130 interceptions.
Jonas continued on in football as the voluntary, then permanent head coach of the new football program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL. The Knights won six of their eight games in 1979, but only won eight in the next two seasons. At the time Jonas coached, the Knights were in NCAA Division II.
Jonas is now semi-retired, working part-time at an auto-glass replacement shop and playing golf. He has done radio broadcasts of Central Florida football games and had a radio sports talk show for three years.