He was a 14th-round afterthought who became one of the greatest defensive ends in NFL history. David "Deacon" Jones brought an entirely new level of fame to his position by authoring the "sack" term used by all who tackle quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage, and perfecting the head-slap technique that was so devastating, the NFL eventually outlawed it. Always outspoken, Jones lived a boisterous and happy life throughout his 74 years, but he has passed away of natural causes at his Southern California home. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth.
The news was announced via the Washington Redskins' Twitter account. Redskins general manager Bruce Allen's father George, one of the NFL's great defensive coordinators before he became a head coach, had Jones as part of the Los Angeles Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" defense from 1966 through 1970. That defensive line, which also included Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier, and Lamar Lundy, was one of the finest position groups the NFL has ever known.
(Getty Images)“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history," Bruce Allen said in a statement on the Redskins' official site. "Off the field, he was a true giant. His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him. He was cherished member of the Allen family and I will always consider him my big brother.”
Jones was always a star, though it took some people a while to figure it out. Selected on a whim more than anything else in the 1961 NFL draft after a couple of Rams scouts saw Jones outrunning the backs he was chasing when he played for Mississippi Vocational (now known as Mississippi Valley State), Jones did his thing before tackle and sack totals were kept reliably and officially. But anyone who saw him would tell you that Jones was a true original, and the true spiritual father of all today's quarterback terrorizers.
Years ago, in an NFL Films segment, Jones explained the "sack" term he coined during his great career.
"Sacking the quarterback is like when you devastate a city, or you cream a multitude of people. You take all the offensive linemen and put them in a burlap bag, and then you take a baseball bat and beat on the bag. You're sacking them, you're bagging them. And that's what you're doing with a quarterback."Read More »from Legendary defensive end David ‘Deacon’ Jones dies at 74