Lem Barney: I’m sure Deacon Jones’s death is due to head injuries

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Hall of Fame cornerback Lem Barney has been a vocal critic of the NFL over its treatment of players who suffered head injuries, suing the league and saying he wishes he had never played the sport that brought him fame and fortune. And now Barney is blaming head injuries for the death of one of his fellow Hall of Famers.

Although no cause of death has been released for Deacon Jones, who died on Monday at the age of 74, Barney told USA Today that head injuries must be the culprit.

“It’s a shame that he’s gone,” Barney said. “I’m sure it’s due to the head injuries.”

Barney said he could tell from talking to Jones that he had suffered brain damage on the field.

“I know he didn’t complain about it,” Barney said. “But you could see that he was slower in speech when you saw him or had phone conversations. He was still the Deacon, but you could see some things being lost.”

The game of football leaves many players battered later in life, and Jones may have had health problems related to playing the game. But it would be wise to wait for some medical evidence before anyone claims to be “sure” about what caused Jones’s death.

54 responses to “Lem Barney: I’m sure Deacon Jones’s death is due to head injuries

  1. Lem Barney’s obviously premature comment about the cause of death of a 74 year old may be an indication that Barney is the one with the “head injury.”

  2. Reminds me of Andy Bernard, looking up at a sunny sky through his car window: “Check out this sunshine, man. Global warming, right? Today was supposed to be really cold, I bet.”

  3. It’s idiots like these that I completely despise.
    All of these washed up players from 30 or 40 years ago is just simply looking for any way to make money, and here it’s gonna cost the whole sport one day once the NFL is banned.

    Deacon jones definitely died from head injuries, how?? He lived to 74 which is right up there in the life expectancy. He probably would’ve developed other brain issues before he died, BUT never did. He instead dies of natural causes.

    I wish these idiots would shut up in the head injury lawsuits, they’re fighting over a topic that is somehow blamed on the NFL, but yet understood by each and every player 30 or 40 years ago.

    It makes no sense

  4. Funny thing about this injury thing is that if you polled players. Probably 90/95% would do it all again.

    So what are you complaining about again?

  5. Just shut up and play the game, or don’t. Football is inherently dangerous, that is well established. You knew what you signed up for. No one is a victim. Move on.

  6. He’s right.

    But what sort of person thinks they can run head first into things for a living without any physical reprocussions???


    you get paid so much because you risk your own physical well being in hopes to become a champion.
    you recieve accolades, trophies, endorsements for your own pursuit of glory.

    he may have bowed out at 74, but that man lived life they way he wanted to.

    now take responsibility for your own actions & stop passing the buck to the NFL..
    you knew what you were getting involved in.

  7. not to be a jerk….but IF head injuries had something to do with…it is a bit ironic it happened to a guy that made his name slapping his opponents across the head so hard it knocked them off balance and caused them to lose sight for a split second so the Deacon could get to the QB

  8. Every time a nfl player die now the cause is going to be head injuries. People die all the time and nfl players aren’t immune to death either Deacon Jones lived a long life I doubt head injuries caused his death since he lived as long as he did this just sounds like another attempt to sue the nfl.

  9. Craziest thing i’ve heard this morning…I mean come on Deacon was 74, do you know how many people who didn’t play football or take as many head blows who live to that age or less? This trying to blame every NFL players death on too many blows to the head is getting out of hand.

  10. My grandmother began to slow down in her later years too. After doing some research I was amazed to find out that she had played FB in the NFL in her younger days. I’d like to say more, but the attorney for our case against the NFL has advised me not to.

  11. My father is 73 and he speaks more slowly, walks more slowly and even falls on occasion. He’s 73 and never played football. Deacon was 74. It happens to people that never even played football. Everyone slows down as they get older. Fact of life. Not saying head injuries aren’t real or have an impact on NFL players, but it’s harder to extrapolate that to a 74 year old than say a 54 year old displaying the same things.

  12. I am thinking it might be because Jones was 74. If Jones were 54 and flopped over I’d consider the head injury argument.

    Bernard is another taker who thinks life owes him something. Getting paid to play football is not enough. There are a lot of ex-players who want to destroy football over this head injury BS. It is a dangerous job, that is why it pays like it does.

  13. What a myopic dirtbag. Using his “friend’s” death to push his own agenda.

    The average US life expectany for a male is 76 years. Jones died at 74. And he was 6′ 5″ and 270 pounds. I’d say he lived a pretty full life.

  14. This reminds me of the word association test bit from Seinfeld:

    JERRY: My cousin Douglas was in a place like this (nut house) one time . He came over to my house for dinner. There was no soda and he went bezerk. He was screamin’
    “where’s the Pepsi, where’s the Pepsi?”

    GEORGE: I should be in a place like this I envy this woman. Ya’ get to wear slippers all day. Friends visit. They pity you. Pity is very underrated. I like it it’s good. Plus they give you those word association tests. I love those.

    JERRY: That’d be great. There’s no wrong answer.

    GEORGE: Potato

    JERRY: Tuberculosis

    GEORGE: Blanket

    JERRY: Leroy

    GEORGE: Grass

    JERRY: Tuberculosis

  15. C’mon guys is really hard to believe that repeated blows to the head cause brain damage? Especially back in the 60’s and 70’s when he played when the sport was more violent with less sufficient protection.

  16. Cause of death may be too strong of a statement for someone of Deacon Jones’ age,but there is absolutely no reason to believe he did not suffer damage from his playing days…..it becomes clearer and clearer that even a small number of blows to the head,as well as any other action which causes brain movement,whatever the source, have much more of a long term effect than previously thought….

  17. Hey Barney, I have an idea how you can settle your problems and make the nfl look really bad. Kill yourself and blame the head injuries. It’s a win-win. You make the NFL look bad, and then we stop having to hear you talk.

  18. Lem you’re a part of the concussion movement, your knee jerk autopsy screams bias. Football is a violent sport and there will always be concussions, that’s a part of the reason why they are compensated the way they are, there is inherent risk in running into grown at full speed 5 days per week. If the NFL is liable so is Pop Warner, Junior High Schools, High Schools, and Colleges. I don’t know a dude that played defense in high school that didn’t get at least one concussion at the varsity level.

  19. Whatever…he wishes he never played. I wish he never played. So his stupid comment would have never been heard. My 86 year grandfather died 15 years ago. Must’ve been head injuries, or bone injuries, maybe knee injuries, or back injuries, or hand injuries, blah blah blah…

  20. “Barney said he could tell from talking to Jones that he had suffered brain damage on the field.”

    And I can telling from reading this quote that Barney suffered brain damage on the field.

  21. If anything Deacon Jones caused more head injuries then any player who ever played the game and was probably the most violent lineman of his era.

  22. If there were no NFL Lem Barney would be suing McDonalds for his carpel tunnel from a lifetime of flipping burgers! What an ungrateful piece! How many beer truck drivers suffer from back pain? The beer industry empire was built on their backs! Do they owe them? RIDICULOUS!

  23. So a 74 year old man dies of what has been documented as natural causes and I’m supposed to believe a guy that has an axe to grind? Are you kidding me…..If Mr Barney didn’t want the fame and fortune, he wouldve quit while he es playing. I’m sure he saw many injuries from other players attributed to football prior to him getting all the fame and fortune , but yet it didn’t stop him. If he truly believes the NFL is wrong then I’m sure he won’t accept any money from his lawsuit against the league if he is compensated…….yea , I won’t be holding my breath either. What a joke…..

  24. I’m sure there’ll be signs of brain damage to some extent from playing football but no one can say for sure that was the cause. Deacon Jones is just trying to set himself up for more money in the law suit.

  25. I’m sure there’ll be signs of brain damage to some extent from playing football but no one can say for sure that was the cause. Deacon Jones is just trying to set himself up for more money in the law suit.

  26. the man died at the age of 74, im not sure what the average is right now, but hes not exactly hurting it.

    what frustrates me is that this is a man who said people were born for certain jobs, he was born to sack the quarterback

    gosh, if he had only avoided doing what he felt he was put on the earth to do, he may have made it to 80! heck, might have even pushed 90, some quality wheel chair time.

    is this guy serious?

  27. Was doing some research and as it turns out people slow down, get wear & tear physically & even die eventually when they age. Who would of thunk?!

  28. Offensive linemen should have listed Deacon as a co-defendant on the suit about concussions. Wasn’t he famous for knocking guys “silly” with a head slap? Barney should shut up and show more respect for a fellow man’s passing and not use it to push any agenda, be it concussions or whatever. Stealing a fallen friend’s spotlight so you can get 15 seconds of spotlight is shameful.

  29. @myosin10

    It’s not difficult to believe that cause of death MAY be traced back to the brain damage, predominantly caused by electing to play one of the most violent sports, at one of the most physical positions for 10+ years (probably closer to 15 years or more counting college and earlier).

    However, for someone to come out, before any medical expert declares cause of death, and declare this MUST be due to brain damage, especially when this someone is a key figure in the brain damage/concussion argument against the NFL, is pretty disgusting.

    If he really cared for his friend, he would take this time to honor his memory, remember the amazing things he did, both on and off the field, and not use the opportunity to jump on soap box, and say “Look what the NFL did to my friend”.

    Once the medical report comes out, and it is in fact due to brain damage, then go ahead and list his name when talking about this issue. Until then, just honor and remember than man, and don’t use him for an agenda.

  30. What an idiot… Hey Lem, why did you wait until Deacon died to make these claims??? Could it be that if you had said it before he had passed that he would have given you one of his famous head-slaps?

  31. I have another take on this matter…anyone who’s followed football for any length of time knows it’s a violent and physical game, that being said each and every player still decided to play for the money the glory/notoriety etc.,

    I would put them in a better situation than those who truly take career paths which could have more dire consequences i.e. the military, police, Fire and Rescue.

  32. It is simple, if people want to sue the NFL I say they should be able to. But I think they should have to pay back every dollar that they earned. Be that in the League, in endorsements, any benefits they got, or however they made money due to being in the league. Like cush jobs they got for being a football player. Then they can sue the league for their choice to play a sport that everyone in the world has always known was dangerous. You go out and hit peope as fast as you can and as hard as you can and you do not think you are going to get injured.

  33. Lem Barney’s opinion on this subject actually hurts his cause. It’s like the woman who gets busted crying “rape” or the minority who is seen ridiculously playing the race card.

    If you want your position to be taken seriously, it does not help the cause to insist upon absurd conclusions that any reasonable person can see through.

    The Deac, legend that he was, was in his mid-seventies. Every one of us, if we’re fortunate enough to hit our mid-seventies – will have slowed down a lot – regardless of whether the NFL’s policies allowed us to get our head popped around.

    Ironically enough, the player Barney is claiming was a victim of the Monolith — was Head Slap King — something he bragged about to his last breath. Just as ironic, the NFL outlawed the practice to protect the players FROM THEMSELVES. And now Barney is complaining……

  34. 74 years old maybe he died of OLD AGE I’m tired of hearing and reading about head injuries. Hey maybe if the players would lay off the steroids their mental makeup wouldn’t cause then to shoot themselves once the lights were off and they were insignificant. Prolonged steroid abuse causes depression depressed people commit suicide. Stop already a bunch of grown men oh my brain I can’t control myself cause if the head injuries

  35. Both of my kids play high school football, just as I did. Society is getting soft and weak. Half of the men alive today would not have survived the rough life men had to endure just 500 years ago.

  36. Dr Barney,
    I am 76 years old. I am having problems with remembering, hearing, walking, seeing, breathing and talking. Do you think it’s related to watching football?

  37. Everyone of my grandparents died before the age of 73, I am sure it was because the NFL and head injuries. Did they play NFL football? Of course not.

  38. I could see “some things being lost” in my 75 yr old father in law that worked on a farm his whole life and didn’t even watch football let alone even play a single down of football in his life, point is that he’s 75.

  39. The fear is that the recent death of Pat Summerall was a result of head injuries too and had nothing to do with the fact that he was 82.

    Head injuries has also been linked to the death of Al Davis, reportedly “from being to close to the field”.

  40. My grandmother has slower speech and dementia now, and she’s around 75 years of age. I’m sure its because she suffered head injuries playing in the NFL. only explanation. I’m going to convince her to also jump on board and sue the NFL.

  41. Get rich quick in America? Sue! It is funny, someone without any medical training, with an agenda, knows the reasons for his death without an autopsy.

    How about the millions of other people with dementia & alzheimers that never played football? Yet his death must be from football! Sickening.

    How can I put more coin in my pocket? Sue!

  42. I used to have a lot of respect for Lem Barney but using a recently dead person, who flat out said he wanted no part in the concussion lawsuits, to trumpet his cause is extremely disrespectful to Deacon Jones. Besides dying at 74 seams like a pretty long life to me.

  43. I don’t want to hear it.

    Deacon was broken down physically, but brain damage? I doubt it seriously. He was just as vocal and quick witted when he was on that A Football Life special, but otherwise just broken down like you would expect a guy who spent 20 years playing to break down.

    This reeks of the guys on that case just trying to use whatever leverage they can find.

  44. Whether his death was football-related or not, he was 74 when he passed, which is average among men, no matter what their occupation was. Sad loss though. Hate to see the legends of my youth start to go.

  45. I’m sure Dr. Barney’s diagnosis has nothing to do with the money he(and others) are trying to withdraw from the NFL bank. I remember watching Deacon and the others of his era, play to the max all the time. They played hard and lived well. They made a lot of money(for their era) for getting beat up and beating up their opponents. After 40 years in my job, I’m beat up, too. I just don’t have anyone to sue!

  46. NEWS FLASH!!!!

    The NFL confirmed today what we had long suspected was true. In a terse statement they said, “If you play football, someday you will die.”

    This shocking revelation was delivered by a somber-faced official who asked to remain anonymous so that, “they’ll print my words at PFT”

  47. Had Lem said Deacon died from trauma associated with injuries to both his hands from causing head injuries to opposing players, I would beleive him. RIP Deacon, you are missed.

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