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.