The National Football League has lost one of its legends. Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones has died at the age of 74.
Washington Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen relayed the news via the team’s official website. Jones died of natural causes at his home in Southern California.
“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history. Off the field, he was a true giant. His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him,” said Allen. “He was cherished member of the Allen family and I will always consider him my big brother.”
Jones, nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense,” was one of the most dominant players of his era. He was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and five-time first-team All-Pro selection. Jones was named to eight Pro Bowls during his 14-year NFL career, and to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team.
Jones spent his first 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams before playing two years for the San Diego Chargers and his final season with the Washington Redskins, in 1974.
Bruce Allen’s father, George, was Jones’ head coach for five season with the Rams and again during his final season in Washington.
Jones was a member of the “Fearsome Foursome” with the Rams that consisted of Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier, and Merlin Olsen. It was among the most imposing defensive lines ever constructed. Famous for using a head slap to gain an advantage on offensive linemen, Jones was a nightmare for quarterbacks as a pass rusher.
Although sacks didn’t become an official statistic until 1982, Jones would be among the best all-time in the category. He unofficially recorded 22 sacks twice during his tenure with the Rams and posted three 20-plus sack seasons. Jones is even credited with first coining the term “sack.” His 173.5 career sacks would rank third on the all-time list behind Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198).
Jones was named to the Hall of Fame in 1980 during his first year of eligibility.