After Deacon Jones died last year at the age of 74, the NFL created an award bearing his name that will be given to the NFL’s leader in sacks each year.
The first recipient of the Deacon Jones Award will be Colts linebacker Robert Mathis, who finished the season with 19.5 sacks. Mathis finished just ahead of Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who had 19 sacks, and will be given the award on February 1 at NFL Honors, the league’s award show.
“Deacon Jones is the creator of the sack so to be able to win the first award in his honor is an honor,” Mathis said in a release from the league. ”I’m very proud that I was able to win it and I thank my teammates, mainly the d-line, who were very instrumental in helping me get to the quarterback. It’s a unit award, more so than an individual award.”
The sack did not become an official statistic until after Jones had retired from the league, but most people familiar with his era believe that he would be at or near the top of the career sack list if the stat was adopted earlier. As it stands, Mathis ranks 20th all-time with 111 sacks.