Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones died at his home in Southern California from natural causes at the age of 74, the Washington Redskins announced early Tuesday morning.
Nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense” because of his specialty for sacking quarterbacks, Jones was considered by many as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history.
Selected in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft, Jones spent 14 seasons in the NFL – the first 11 of them with the Los Angeles Rams, where he played for head coach George Allen. He was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1972 and then concluded his career with the Redskins, where he was reunited with Allen, the father of Washington general manager Bruce Allen.
“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Bruce Allen said in a press release issued by the Redskins at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. “Off the field, he was a true giant. His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him. He was [a] cherished member of the Allen family, and I will always consider him my big brother.”
Jones selected George Allen as his presenter when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980. The Allen family in turn selected Jones to present the late football coach for his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
While with the Rams, Jones was a member of the Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line, along with Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier and Merlin Olsen. At that time, sacks weren’t an official statistic, but it is said that Jones was the person who coined the phrase, “sack.”
Jones earned All-Pro honors five straight seasons with the Rams (1965-69), earned eight Pro Bowl selections and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1967 and ’68. In 1994, he was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team.
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