Deacon Jones compiled sacks, lots of them, before they even had a name.
Perhaps the greatest defensive end and best pass rusher of the modern era, a star for the Los Angeles Rams as a member of the team’s vaunted “Fearsome Foursome,” died Monday in Anaheim Hills, Calif., according to the Los Angeles Times. Jones was 74.
Voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, Jones played for the Rams from 1961 to 1971 and then briefly for the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins. He was selected as the league’s top defensive player in 1967 and 1968.
Jones was proud to say he had more than 20 sacks in multiple NFL seasons. The only problem? The sack did not become an official statistic until 1982, well after his playing days were over. He created a vicious move that involved a head slap. It was eventually outlawed as he would stun linemen as he raced past them to the quarterback. At 6-5, 272 pounds, he was bigger than many players in his era and quicker than nearly all of them.
George Allen coaches Jones with the Rams and Redskins and upon his retirement in 1975 he declared his former player was “without doubt the greatest defensive end to play in modern day football.”
Jones is credited with coming up with the phrase “sacking the quarterback.” In the Rams media guide, they list Jones with a franchise-high 159 ½ career sacks and 173 ½ for his career. Keep in mind, the NFL played a 14-game schedule during his career.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune