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Deacon Jones always regretted he didn’t kill more quarterbacks

deaconjones Getty Images

I talked to Deacon Jones at last year’s Super Bowl, and although he bore the scars of years in the trenches, used a cane and struggled to stand up straight, he still had the imposing air of a man who could break me in half without breaking a sweat. I felt intimidated in his presence.

Jones, who died on Monday at the age of 74, made a Hall of Fame career of being the most intimidating man on the football field. He told me he hated the way the NFL had changed the rules of football to make it safer, which he viewed as synonymous with softer.

“I’d probably be arrested with this bunch of guys, they’re soft — give me a break: These guys are soft,” Jones said. “I hit the head. I started there. . . . This game ain’t never going to be safe.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Tuesday calling Jones “an icon among icons,” but Goodell’s emphasis on player safety stands in sharp contrast to the way Jones played the game. Even after seeing how the game had changed in his retirement, old age didn’t soften Jones, who was asked in a 2008 interview if he had any regrets and answered, “Yes. . . . I’d kill more quarterbacks. That’s the only thing I could do differently. I couldn’t be any nastier. I couldn’t have any more intent. The only thing I do is execute better.”

In an NFL Films profile of his career, Jones summed things up by saying, “I wouldn’t want to be a lawyer, I wouldn’t want to be a doctor, I wouldn’t want to be the president of the United States. I was destined — just like Ray Charles was born to sing the blues — Deacon was born to rush quarterbacks.”

Jones was the first person to use the term “sack” to mean tackling the quarterback; he compared his role in rushing the passer to the role of destroyers sacking a vanquished land. He remains the greatest representative of a bygone era in the NFL, a time when players could openly delight in bringing violence to the game.

Ordinarily I’d conclude by saying, “rest in peace,” but Deacon Jones wouldn’t want to rest in peace. He’d want to go to a great beyond where he’s perpetually battling offensive linemen and conquering quarterbacks.

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56 Responses to “Deacon Jones always regretted he didn’t kill more quarterbacks”
  1. walker615 says: Jun 4, 2013 12:03 PM

    Well said. RIP.

  2. slashrageblog says: Jun 4, 2013 12:05 PM

    Deacon is one of those players everyone wishes they had on their team. Sad to see a legend pass away.

  3. jwcarlson says: Jun 4, 2013 12:06 PM

    What a different game it was/is.

  4. ryann252013 says: Jun 4, 2013 12:07 PM

    What a true bad ass.

  5. lgbarn says: Jun 4, 2013 12:11 PM

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Tuesday calling Jones “an icon among icons,” but Goodell fined Jones an unspecified amount for head slapping the funeral director although there was no proof that head slapping actually took place.

  6. hatesycophants says: Jun 4, 2013 12:11 PM

    Indeed.

  7. mec693 says: Jun 4, 2013 12:15 PM

    And that’s why hes the best

  8. frankiemontana says: Jun 4, 2013 12:15 PM

    Mr.Jones you sir is what football was all about, you sir is what I call a BAD ASS,…RIP,

  9. duncanthecat says: Jun 4, 2013 12:16 PM

    The Deaconmeister.

    Played the game with the passion that drives only a few to reach their upmost potential.

    R.I.P.

  10. medialovesthecowboys says: Jun 4, 2013 12:16 PM

    “…I couldn’t be any nastier. I couldn’t have any more intent. The only thing I do is execute better.”

    Goosebumps.

  11. rowdymon says: Jun 4, 2013 12:17 PM

    That headline should be put on his tombstone!

  12. mec693 says: Jun 4, 2013 12:18 PM

    Imagine if JBeibs tried speeding down his street

  13. fwippel says: Jun 4, 2013 12:21 PM

    A GREAT football player. Sorry to see him gone so soon, just like Merlin Olson.

    I still remember his comments about Fran Tarkenton: “When I hit him, I tried to end his career. We tried desperately to end his career…desperately.”

    Can you imagine a player making those comments today? Goodell would suspend him indefinitely.

  14. staff2cj says: Jun 4, 2013 12:21 PM

    RIP Deac! Deac Jone – Definition, real football

  15. nolagirl says: Jun 4, 2013 12:22 PM

    I wish that “icon of icons” could give one last headslap to the Commish, y’know, just for ole times sake… RIP, Mr. Jones

  16. granadafan says: Jun 4, 2013 12:26 PM

    We can blame Deacon’s colleagues for the concussion lawsuits, the lawyers who took the case, the NFL lawyers especially for the liability, and Roger Goodell for completely overreacting to any future lawsuits, which may or may not happen. I read somewhere that the lawyers had many sit down meeings with Goodell about lawsuits.

    Basically, we can place most of the blame on the lawyers for ruining the game…. and Roger Goodell.

  17. bigwinintx says: Jun 4, 2013 12:30 PM

    I’m guessing that all of the “thumbs down” are from pissed off fans of other teams that Deke played against and CRUSHED their QB!

    What they don’t realize is that The Minister Of Defense would welcome every last one of their thumbs down and boos as a badge of honor.

    So go ahead, give your thumbs downs and leave with the notion that Deacon Jones would have laughed at your boos…
    It made him happy!

  18. jimmylions says: Jun 4, 2013 12:36 PM

    Deacon Jones is with Odin and Lombardi in NFL Valhalla.

  19. 989lions says: Jun 4, 2013 12:38 PM

    I read Deacons quotes from a very well written article today and thought to myself wow I love this guys attitude and demeanor when it comes to playing football. Even the trying to end F Tarkenton’s career bit.

    Then I thought what the reaction of this websites writers/commenters would be if a player in today’s NFL issued the exact same statement about another QB today. This website would crash with comments about how dirty and cheap of an organization (insert team here) are and what a terrible human being (insert player here) is.

    Why the hypocrisy? Just some food for thought.

  20. harrisonhits2 says: Jun 4, 2013 12:40 PM

    If he played today Goodell would fine him every single game.

    The longer Goodell and his band of attorneys control the league the longer Deacon will be turning over in his grave.

  21. icdogg says: Jun 4, 2013 12:40 PM

    That was a fine tribute.

  22. skinsfantom says: Jun 4, 2013 12:44 PM

    is he on mt. rushmore of football? just wondering. jim brown,jerry rice, deacon jones and ?

  23. ianijm says: Jun 4, 2013 12:47 PM

    RIP Deacon … you were a SERIOUS badass. Players like you are a bygone breed.

  24. ranger764 says: Jun 4, 2013 12:51 PM

    I guess I’m a little confused about all the celebrating the violence and Deacon stating he was trying to end people career’s and the hostility towards Tom Nalen a week or so ago saying he was trying to take out Igor for what he perceived was a cheap shot the previous play. That being said, RIP Deacon Jones!

  25. EJ says: Jun 4, 2013 12:53 PM

    I remember what my Father has told me about Deacon Jones…

    Whenever my Dad talked about greats of the NFL’s past, he would paint a picture of each player with the words he used. Sometimes giving me a stat or two or bringing a certain play to life again. When he first spoke of Deacon Jones, I had a very scary picture drawn up in my head. The way my Dad expressed his thoughts of the football great, I had goose bumps and chills up an down my spine. He spoke of a very rigid and large man that would make Superman look like a little girl. A head-hunter, who basically mounted the heads of his trophy Quarterback’s and struck fear in any brave enough to step on the field with him. A once in a lifetime player that could never be duplicated. Deacon Jones was the NFL.

  26. uwsptke says: Jun 4, 2013 12:54 PM

    bigwinintx says:
    Jun 4, 2013 12:30 PM
    I’m guessing that all of the “thumbs down” are from pissed off fans of other teams that Deke played against and CRUSHED their QB!

    What they don’t realize is that The Minister Of Defense would welcome every last one of their thumbs down and boos as a badge of honor.

    ==================

    You probably should get a few thumbs down for this comment since the “Minister of Defense” was Reggie White. Deacon Jones was the called the “Secretary of Defense”.

  27. philtration says: Jun 4, 2013 12:58 PM

    Jones, Butkus, Nitschke, Lane….
    They scared the hell out of a whole generation of opposing players.

  28. buffalomafia says: Jun 4, 2013 1:04 PM

    R.I.P.

  29. immafubared says: Jun 4, 2013 1:14 PM

    I’ve seen em all play, including Deacon both on tv and in person and without a doubt he was the best ever. If they would have kept sack records back then, his records would still be untouched today.
    Not to mention, it was a running league back then. QB’s didn’t pass every down like they do now.

    Most of the so called DE’s today couldn’t carry this guys luggage into the hotel. Whinning crybabies like Suh and others have zero class compared to Deacon.

  30. ravensdominate says: Jun 4, 2013 1:19 PM

    Rip bud. You would have fit in well in Baltimore.

  31. isphet71 says: Jun 4, 2013 1:20 PM

    Bet he loved Ndamukong Suh.

  32. hornbuckle says: Jun 4, 2013 1:21 PM

    You da man. Rip

  33. jamaltimore says: Jun 4, 2013 1:21 PM

    Seriously, I’m surprised Roger didn’t release a statement saying “while we respect Deacon for what he did for the game, he would never have been able to play in the cupcake heads up league that we are promoting today!”

    I’m mid forties and I can remember my father and uncles talking football when I was little and when Deacon jones name was mentioned all I remember was headshaking and ohhh’s.

    RIP

  34. fcs34 says: Jun 4, 2013 1:22 PM

    I love the fact George Allen’s daughter named her son after Deacon. Just a great man on and off the field and one of the reasons I love football so much. A true legend.

  35. twilson962 says: Jun 4, 2013 1:27 PM

    Be careful…Goodell might try to fine him for that comment.

  36. surfinbird1 says: Jun 4, 2013 1:32 PM

    Glad I was able to see The Deacon lead the Fearsome Foursome. Great football days. Rosey Grier is the only one left now.

  37. santolonius says: Jun 4, 2013 1:45 PM

    i propose today should be deacon jones day on this site. talk of mount rushmores.. this guy was on the mount rushmore of defensive linemen, all time. in fact, if three other heads fell off that particular mount rushmore, deacon’s might be the one left standing. for fans of pro football, there is no understating how big a deal it is that he has left us.

  38. halbert53 says: Jun 4, 2013 1:53 PM

    One of best at any position to ever play the game.

  39. dwarftosser says: Jun 4, 2013 1:55 PM

    Deacon loved to run his mouth. I never appreciated the lack of respect he had for current players, and I cringed every time this guy would open his mouth for an interview… But he was one hell of a player.

    Best wishes to his family and friends.

  40. micknangold says: Jun 4, 2013 1:56 PM

    Head slapping should still be legal. Works like a charm.

  41. listenupcupcake says: Jun 4, 2013 2:01 PM

    granadafan says:

    “Basically, we can place most of the blame on the lawyers for ruining the game…. and Roger Goodell.”

    Roger Goodell is a lawyer. ‘Nuff said.

  42. lagg1 says: Jun 4, 2013 2:19 PM

    Deacon Jones called it the head slap-Randy White called it the forearm shiver when he used it. Either way it sounds painful.

  43. thesteelers says: Jun 4, 2013 2:22 PM

    This makes us all take a step back and truly embrace the game at its pinnacle. The NFL would have a much brighter future if more players held this legend’s attitude instead of papers for their next lawsuit.

  44. bobman2 says: Jun 4, 2013 2:31 PM

    All these comments and nobody mentions “Multiblade!” and him (gently) headlocking Jack Klugman and leaving shaving cream on his nose in “The Odd Couple.”

  45. evrybdyhas1 says: Jun 4, 2013 2:55 PM

    Wow I completely agree with him. Now the lawyers, suits and lawsuits are changing the game and even Prez. BO has a meaningless opinion. Deacon was a mans man and one of the greatest who would kick everones backside.

  46. bigdaddyraven says: Jun 4, 2013 3:25 PM

    skinsfantom says:
    Jun 4, 2013 12:44 PM
    is he on mt. rushmore of football? just wondering. jim brown,jerry rice, deacon jones and ?

    ===================
    Johnny U!

  47. jaketdogg says: Jun 4, 2013 3:31 PM

    Hopefully Goodell doesn’t put a fine slip in his casket for saying that.
    RIP Deacon, and thanks for the memories.

  48. sonopazzo6 says: Jun 4, 2013 3:40 PM

    When he had to wear a cast on his arm due to a broken forearm he inserted a metal rod in it to make his headslap more effective………needless to say his arm took longer than usual to “heal”…………in my opinion, the best defensive end of all time and that includes Reggie White and Gino Marchetti……..and I’m an Italian Eagles fan!

  49. skleech22 says: Jun 4, 2013 3:58 PM

    Then Deacon must have been sick,how the NFL catered to whining, gunshy,make special rules for me,
    Brady!!

  50. Mr. Wright 212 says: Jun 4, 2013 4:03 PM

    All I had was NFL Films when I was growing up in the 80s, but he seemed mythical to me then, and still does to this day. Unreal how you can get 50 sacks in two seasons. And he loved Lawrence Taylor, one of the last truly nasty players in NFL lore.

  51. tindeaux says: Jun 4, 2013 5:20 PM

    oh yeah Deacon Jones? Looks who’s dead now? I’m sure 99% of the QBs hit by you still alive and healthy now.

    Bottom line is football is still a game and you put it in this context? give me a break!!!

    Winning the game of life is more important than the game of football, period!

  52. queenlivekillers says: Jun 4, 2013 5:49 PM

    Somewhere in heaven Don Meredith is running for his life!

  53. jimeejohnson says: Jun 4, 2013 7:00 PM

    “…he compared his role in rushing the passer to the role of destroyers sacking a vanquished land.”

    Sounds like a Minnesota Viking.

  54. jimeejohnson says: Jun 4, 2013 7:08 PM

    sonopazzo6: for an Italian Eagles fan to say Deacon Jones was better than all-time Eagles favorite Reggie White and Baltimore Colts great Gino Marchetti , your compliment means A LOT! You sound like one super knowledgeable, old time, real fan of this great game and not the dime a dozen hater so prevalent in sports fandom. I am also old enough to remember the havoc Deacon Jones caused, but Marchetti was a couple of years before my time. Good luck to your Eagles; they’ll need it.

  55. seaeagle707 says: Jun 4, 2013 8:07 PM

    I didn’t like him as a player (I don’t think any fan from an opposing team did) and Merlin, was the only one to escape the stigma of the “Foursome”. We used to joke that Rosy Grier WAS the Fearless Foursome and the other three just hung around him.

    But a “real” man has left the building and I’ll add a cyber-rose to his grave.

  56. baylj98 says: Jun 5, 2013 2:26 PM

    I was a big Rams fan back in the days of the fearsome foursome. I loved how well they all worked together. Deacon Jones was the fastest player I loved watching. To me, he was not a dirty player. Just an incredible athlete with God given skills. If he were an animal, I would make him a lion for his strength cunning. I liked Dick Butkis also. What an incredible linebacker he was. The quarterbacks always had to check to see where Butkis was lined up before they called plays. I believe the NFL is doing the right thing to try and limit the serious injuries. Looking forward to another exciting season. Enjoy everyone.

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