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Levy explains how Deacon Jones came up with “sack”

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When Hall of Fame defensive lineman Deacon Jones passed, the tributes and memories included most prominently that he used the head slap and that he coined the term “sack.”

Leo Roth of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle explains that Jones locked on to the term after legendary head coach George Allen used it as a pun in a motivational speech.

Here’s the story, as told by former NFL coach Marv Levy, as assistant under Allen with the Redskins:  “George was talking the night before in the team meeting about playing the Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback, Craig Morton.  The term [sack] had never been used.  It was always, ‘Tackle the QB for a loss.’  But the night before the game, George goes, ‘Before we play those Dallas Cowboys, we’re going to take that Morton salt and pour him into a sack.’  That was the inspiration for it.’’

Still, it was Jones who ran with it as a word to generally describe tackling the quarterback for a loss.  So while Allen gets the assist, Jones saw that the word had far broader appeal than linking a quarterback named Morton to the Morton salt brand and putting the salt in a proverbial sack.

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23 Responses to “Levy explains how Deacon Jones came up with “sack””
  1. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 16, 2013 10:47 PM

    Luckily George didn’t use the phrase “pour him into a tablespoon”, which at first crossed his mind.

  2. cadenjay says: Jun 16, 2013 10:50 PM

    No really I came up with it.

  3. ottawabrave91 says: Jun 16, 2013 10:58 PM

    he said they gonna get that mork trick quarterback and pour mortens salt all over him. they ready to ride. RA RA

  4. adeedothatswho says: Jun 16, 2013 11:07 PM

    I don’t get what the hell he was talking about lol. What does putting salt in a sack mean? Do you place the sack in the trash afterward? Do you put the sack where the box of salt was?

    Either way, it’s a great term for what it means. I just don’t get was George was going for….

  5. nflofficeadmin says: Jun 16, 2013 11:18 PM

    What a character that George was…

  6. pitofzombies94 says: Jun 16, 2013 11:24 PM

    man they really knew how to talk trash back in the day.

  7. raiderinva says: Jun 16, 2013 11:40 PM

    Actually back in the day spices like salt, sugar, flour, and pepper were carried and sold by “The Sack”…

    For someone to describe “sacking” a QB would be today’s equivalent of “Hurt Them”, “Kill Them”, or “Bringing on the John Deer”.

    Either way I totally respect Deacon Jones for never changing his verbiage or attitude for playing the game the way he played it.

  8. romosmicrodongs says: Jun 17, 2013 12:00 AM

    I aleays thought it was like a siege of a city, like when rome was ‘sacked’ by the barbarians. demolished, ruined, etc.

  9. filmex2000 says: Jun 17, 2013 12:17 AM

    Sorry, I don’t buy it.

    Following Deacon’s passing, the NFL Network showed an old NFL Films segment from the early 1980s where Deacon described coming up with the term in relation to having a warrior’s mindset in going after the QB, and likened it to sacking and pillaging an enemy’s village.

    I’ll take Deacon’s word for it.

  10. mschurm1 says: Jun 17, 2013 12:40 AM

    This has gotten confused over the years, but it was Al Gore who came up with the term ‘sack’.

  11. ragingrhyno21 says: Jun 17, 2013 12:40 AM

    Come on. We all know the term “sack” was really coined when Ndamukong Suh kicked Matt Schaub there.

  12. sooner712 says: Jun 17, 2013 12:51 AM

    Really, this story comes out after Deacon dies, I don’t believeit. He always referred to it as country terms, sacking potatoes. Which makes more sense a physical or labor intense action.

  13. whatchutalkinabouthillis says: Jun 17, 2013 12:53 AM

    I was expecting it to be something like “I’m going to hit the QB so hard it’ll knock his sack off.”

  14. suite34 says: Jun 17, 2013 1:45 AM

    If George Allen said that today, he would be suspended for a year. #NoFunLeague

  15. iceburgskin202 says: Jun 17, 2013 2:11 AM

    I wonder what GODdell would do suspend them or take draft picks?

  16. seaeagle707 says: Jun 17, 2013 2:30 AM

    Allen’s language came perilously close to the terminologies that got Sean Payton into so much trouble. But Allen’s reference was humorous, not with intent to do harm. What he meant (for those who don’t “get it”), was this. Salt is sold in markets in 5-pound sacks. Morton Salt was a major brand and coincidentally the name of the Dallas QB. What Allen told his players was, “before” the game begins let’s grind up Morton and pour him into a sack. It’s whimsical, kind of like saying, “I’d like to beat Peyton Manning to a pulp”, but less violent and full of image association. Allen had no intents in that direction of course. It was just a, “if I got my hands on him, I’d……” moment.

  17. anonymousnevermindfishdeath says: Jun 17, 2013 3:32 AM

    Oh, I always thought it was a British thing, or Deacon punched people in the nut sack

  18. usdiveteam says: Jun 17, 2013 6:17 AM

    The best thing about that story is they had 0 in that game! Lol

  19. jfk69 says: Jun 17, 2013 6:45 AM

    George also added…” and if Morton salt gets up..Take off his peter.
    “No saltpeter today.
    Actually this was the first non published bounty case. Allen offered a salt and pepper shaker set to the defensive player who put the most salt on Morton’s tail.

  20. elliottcovert says: Jun 17, 2013 7:26 AM

    I always thought it came from the terminology of warfare. Back in medieval times, invading armies would “sack” enemy-controlled towns — meaning that they would pillage and plunder the towns, which were often surrounded by big stone walls for that very reason (a lot of villages in Western Europe still are!).

  21. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Jun 17, 2013 9:39 AM

    Later, a different George popularized the expression, “You can stuff your sorries in a sack!”

    It’s an expression.

  22. drew42301 says: Jun 17, 2013 10:19 AM

    I was under the impression it was a shortened form of “dropped like a sack of potatoes”, made in reference to the quarterback’s typical collapsing action.

  23. cometkazie says: Jun 17, 2013 12:23 PM

    Back in the day, the clerk in a southern grocery store might ask, “Sir, may I sack those groceries for you?”

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