Deacon Jones passes away at age 74

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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.

123 responses to “Deacon Jones passes away at age 74

  1. RIP Deacon Jones…..true innovator ( coined the “sack” and the now illegal headslap) and one of the greatest, most intimidating players this game has ever seen….leaves behind a legacy only a true Legend could……

  2. A sad day for any football fan and for any football player. Deacon Jones set the standard of what a dominant football player should be. Thoughts go out to his former teammates, friends, and family. R.I.P. Deacon

  3. He was a wrecker!

    Named one of my old hunting dogs Deke after him.

    I hope the stud went peacefully. Beware quarterbacks in Heaven; your blind side has been compromised.

    RIP bad-ass.

  4. There are very few individuals to have played this game that instilled the kind of fear Deacon Jones would on opposing players. He epitomizes the kind of man you would want in your foxhole, or watching your back in a fight. He’s a bad dude, and going into battle on Sundays with a guy like this next to you can only contribute to your fearless determination to do your job and smash some people.

  5. First Defensive Player in NFL to win MVP. Dominator. They had to change the rules because of his head slap. Top 20 Greatest players of all time. When asked why he didn’t want to coach later , he said he didn’t do politics. Good for him.
    RIP Deacon.

  6. Sad to hear about the Deacon passing. Heaven is getting a hell of a defense. RIP Mr Jones

  7. RIP Deacon Jones – Your awesome, old Blackman face will be missed on NFL Films. Y’all know what I’m talking about, the man was BEAST all the way through.

  8. What a monster on the field, what a stand-up guy off it. Deacon was cool, even if you weren’t a Rams fan.

    I have this image of the attending doctor giving him a head slap, just to make sure he was really gone.

  9. Sad to hear of his passing. Deacon Jones was a 14th round draft pick, he proved with great effort comes great results. He represented the Rams to the fullest capacity. RIP #75

  10. Truly sad news, as a Raider fan whenever I saw him he reminded me of the tough nosed football of old that is definitely lost RIP Mr Jones and football as we knew it.

  11. I could not sleep and visisted this site. Very sad to hear this, just the other day i was wondering how Deacon Jones was doing. The man coined the phrase “sack” defensive end should thank this man for everything he contributed to the sport. Not going to help me sleep thats for sure.

  12. Sad day for Rams’ fans and the NFL
    One of the greatest, or perhaps thee greatest pass rusher of all time. (Before the sack stat)

  13. RIP deacon. You left no stone unturned. A man among men. The league needs more players like you in today’s NFL.

  14. One of the greatest defensive ends ever to play the game.

    As a Los Angeles Ram fan, there will never be another fearsome foursome, and there will never be another Deacon Jones.


  15. Long ago, maybe even long long ago–maybe a high school senior and a friend or two. We had got a press pass, could not go in the locker room, but there in that dingy tunnel we stood. He came. If there had been a sun, it would have been blocked out. We pushed back into the concrete–big kids on our high school campus–nothings here in the recess of the Coliseum, just hoping to see a Ram or a Colt. All four of them came by. We had never seen anyone that big. Tape being pulled from those huge hands that we had watched slapping helmets aside. People that big laughed? One pair of eyes saw us, “Hey kids!” Four heads turned for an instant; smiles were there, then they were gone. Recognition was still a season or two away–Olsen, was always Olsen, Lamar was sometimes Lundy, but it was Deacon who glanced back, nodded–turned back, one moment in time–frozen in 1960

    We had seen a punt blocked that afternoon. They don’t do that much anymore. On the way home Clare said we were close enough to have touched him. Yeah, that close, that long ago.

    RIP David “Deacon” Jones of long long ago.

  16. The Fearsome Foursome, The Purple People Eaters, The Steel Curtain… all monikers of awesome defensive fronts that anyone younger than 40 yrs might have heard about…
    but us old farts got to watch…live.
    C’est la vie.
    RIP, Deacon Jones

  17. RIP. The guy was a qb sack machine in his prime even when I watched the purple people eaters sacking qbs left and right as a front line team. He did it all!

  18. Monster on the D-line. No head slap rule was created because of Deacon. R.I.P. (a legend

  19. Whoa. A couple days ago we learned that Rosey Grier just got married, now this.

    RIP, Deacon Jones.

    And, thanks.

  20. Deacon is one of the key reasons the NFL has sky-rocketed to the biggest sport in America over the years. His presence on and off the field will never be forgotten.

    He sang, he acted, he served the community, and he absolutely dominated on Sundays. The world just got a little less awesome today. RIP Mr. Jones.

  21. He was one of the greatest ever and he played the game the way it was meant to be played, full tilt nasty.

    RIP, Mr. Jones.

  22. man what a shock…. he was like the most scariest and intimidating player in NFL history with the meanest scowl on his face, dude knew how to bring the wood as well… RIP

  23. RIP big fella; three 20-plus sack seasons is unreal! They changed NFL rules because he was too good. One of the 3 or 4 greatest defensive players of all time. Only wish they kept sack stats during his time. Again RIP

  24. David Deacon Jones was a helluva football player. Younger fans of today unfortunately missed out watching this man terrorize NFL quarterbacks like no other defensive end. In addition, he loved to compete. There were a few times when he could have hurt players like Johnny Unitas with a clear shot and he didn’t. In those days players showed a lot of mutual respect. Gino Marchetti was another great player. He was a perennial all-pro at the position. He only weighed 230 lbs, but Jones at 250-270 was really intimidating. I know the history of Reggie White and Bruce Smith but in my mind, Deacon was the best defensive end of all time. Test in peace David!

  25. “You take all the offensive linemen and put them in a burlap bag, and then you take a baseball bat and beat on the bag.”

    R.I.P. Minister of Defense.

  26. Tragedy. Damon was one of the guys you wanted to hear talk about the game of football for hours on end. Classy guy. RIP, Deacon.

  27. Rest in peace, Secretary of Defense. I’ll miss those wonderfully entertaining interviews you’d give. Try to avoid sacking any angels.

  28. The Deacon Jones head slap. A move so devastating and unstoppable it was eventually outlawed by the league. Deacon would just ragdoll everyone in his path. What a legend of the game.

  29. When an athlete could be seen as a hero/role model…. He will always be one of my earliest memories that made me fall in love with the NFL. Even those he played in those lame blue and white uniforms! Will never forget watching him play. The new NFL has very few men like him in it, if any. Those guys made it possible for these knuckle heads to live the good life.

  30. Ive always considered Deacon Jones the all time sack leader since he played in the 14 game era. I remember him and he was certainly the greatest D lineman I ever saw play!

  31. This man embodies what football truly is, it breaks my heart to hear this news. RIP Mr.Jones, #Headslappininheaven

  32. Just watched a show on the fearsome foursome. It was a touching story on these four friends and the ties to the Allen family. Very sad the passing of this great player.

  33. A true grid iron legend if there ever was one.
    Deacon said many times that he would never shake an opponent’s hand after a game, he took the game as serious as a war game and the other team was his enemy.
    He may not have hated you off the field, but as long as you had your uniform on and he had his on, it was war, and he showed no mercy.

    But as much anger as he showed on the field, you can’t find anyone to say a bad thing about the man off the field.
    He shot straight, told you how it was in his eyes and showed what the NFL should still be like.

    Take a break Deke; you’ve earned your time on the sidelines.

  34. Sad news for nfl fans as a whole. I’m to young to watch him personally but watching old highlights and hearing the way he spoke sets him apart from the rest of the vets. His reasons for playing was pure and actually played cause he loved the game. More then I can say about most the stars today.

  35. A sad day for the Jones and Allen families. I know the Allen family took him in and was like a son and a brother to them. May you R.I.P. Deacon Jones. I know George Allen greeted you with open arms at the gates.

  36. NFL lost a legend. He was unquestionably one of the best defensive players of all time. I was listening to NFL on sirius the other day and someone had compiled some stats vis old video and other sources. If you take the top 6 seasons from the sack leaders (since the stat was recorded) it equals the total sacks of Deacon in one 6 year stretch in his career. Amazing. (Tape suggests that he had over 30 in 1 year–back when they were playing 14 games and passing was not as frequent)

    R.I.P. If there were a NFL Mount Rushmore, this guy should be on it.

  37. Deacon and Merlin were the reasons I became a Rams. I remember them beating the bejesus out of Johnny U in the last game of the ’67 season. Just before the end of the half Johnny U dropped back to pass, Merlin hit him from the right and Deacon clobbered him from the left, the ball fluttered out to the flat and Jack Pardee made the pick 6.

    Other than Twins right Ace right 999 HY Balloon (Warner to Bruce, Super Bowl XXXIV) my favorite Rams play of all time.

  38. He came up in a tough era in the deep south but made his way to NFL stardom, a proud SC State Alum…he had to be one of the most colorful personalities in NFL History. RIP

  39. Thats sad to hear. Always fun to listen to on countless NFL Films highlight shows and during interviews.

    Never saw the guy play because Im a young’n but I respect his game.


  40. I was a big fan of the L.A. Rams back when Roman Gabriel was their QB, and their defense was smothering. Deacon Jones was truly one of the all time greats in the NFL.

  41. Thanks Deacon Jones for being such a great Rams defensive end with the Fearsome Foursome. Always a great game when the Fearsome Foursome and the Purple People Eaters were on the same field.

  42. Wow… the end finds us all, but it hard to wrap your head around some losses. Deacon Jones was an incredible football player, it is truly saddening that he is gone, thanks for the great NFL Film moments.

  43. As a football fan of a mere 36 years old, I haven’t had the pleasure to see Deacon Jones play first hand. My experience came via NFL Films highlights of Deacon, Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen, & Lamar Lundy wrecking havoc on offensive lines. I never got a chance to meet any of them personally, but I knew them as only a huge football fan could. 3 have ascended to football heaven leaving only Rosey Grier to hold down the fort for the Fearsome Foursome. Deacon Jones may you rest in peace.

  44. For me as a baseball fan kid…It was Deacon Jones in the 70s that got me to first consider the NFL. I bet that is true for a lot of kids.

    When I think pass rush..I think Deacon Jones.

  45. God Bless
    God Speed

    Cheers to one of the most bad ass men to have walked the earth.
    Every player today should aspire to bring that tenacity.

  46. Always seemed like a really nice man off the field as well as a great player on the field. RIP and condolences to his loved ones.

  47. Why are so many people down-voting heartfelt condolences for the man? If for some inexplicable reason you didn’t like the man, don’t read the article. But why in the world would you down-vote something as simple as RIP Deacon? This blog is infested with morons.

  48. This man was the reason I wore the number #75 my whole life from pee wee to high school. Great player and person. If only players could play like he did today. God rest his soul.

  49. If you read up on the guy it’s a real history lesson. South Carolina State revoked his scholarship when they found out he was taking part in the civil rights movement. So he went to Mississippi Vocational College, and when they had away games, the black players had to sleep on cots in the opposing team’s gym because hotels would not let them stay there.

    Drafted in the 14th round.

  50. I think when it comes time for the Mt. Rushmore selections for the Rams, just put him on there and move on to the next three. RIP Mr. Jones.

  51. Although I’m too young to have watched Mr. Jones in his playing days. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching his career on NFL films, youtube, and the NFL network. Even my kid knows about the great Deacon Jones. He will surely be missed!

  52. How can anyone give a thumbs down. This guy was a qb’s nightmare. Who knows how many sacks he really had. Top 10 of all time….. RIP Mr Jones!!!

  53. sad he truly an all time great ! loved watching interviews of him and hearing his knowledge and spirit for the game.he played the way it was supposed be.great player great personalty that will never be replaced.R.IP. DEACON JONES

  54. Deepest condolences to his family, friends, and teammates. And I can’t help noting that Goodell could have benefited from a few of Deacon’s famous head slaps. One of the NFL’s most feared players and most dynamic personalities. You will be missed, Deacon.

    Rest in peace.

  55. WHY are there so many thumbs down on these nice posts? I know I’m about to get them too. The man did nothing to deserve it.

    RIP sack Daddy. You were before my time as a fan but as a lover of defense, I would have loved to watch you play in real time instead of just highlights.

  56. Since it’s not possible for PFT to limit the site to adults, I wish you guys could turn off the thumbs on articles about players who’ve died, or like Jim Kelly, been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. At least then we–and any family members reading–would be spared the juvenile idiocy of kids giving thumbs down to condolence posts and get-well wishes.

  57. I met Deacon once; great player and seemed like to good guy.

    I wasn’t previously aware he had coined the word ‘sack’.

    I remember the late Reggie White and Bruce Smith being somewhat more complete players, but Deacon was great. RIP.

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