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.

23 responses to “Levy explains how Deacon Jones came up with “sack”

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

  2. 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….

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!).

  11. 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.

  12. 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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