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FILE - In this Sept. 4, 1971 file photo, Los Angeles Ram's Deacon Jones, center, knocks the ball loose from San Diego Chargers' Mike Garrett in Los Angeles. Jones, the original sackmaster, has died. The Hall of Fame defensive end credited with terming the word sack for how he knocked down quarterbacks, was 74. The Washington Redskins said that Jones died of natural causes at his home in Southern California on Monday night, June 3, 2013. (AP Photo)
Sackmaster Deacon Jones ruled era
NFL » Combined with Merlin Olsen as half of Fearsome Foursome.
First Published Jun 04 2013 10:01 am • Last Updated Jun 04 2013 11:34 pm

His nickname belied his calling. David "Deacon" Jones was the most feared member of the Fearsome Foursome, the original sackmaster.

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Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Lawrence Taylor — they all followed the lead set by Jones, who died Monday at 74.

"Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history. Off the field, he was a true giant," said Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, whose father, George, coached Jones with the Los Angeles Rams. "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."

Not only was Jones the main practitioner of the sack in his 14 pro seasons, he coined the term. He once compared bringing down quarterbacks to hog-tying them in a sack. He was smiling when he said it.

Yet Jones never got the statistical credit for all those QB knockdowns; sacks didn’t become an official statistic in the NFL until 1982.


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Jones retired after the 1974 season, having played 11 years with the Rams, two with the Chargers and one with the Redskins. Rams stats show Jones with 159 1/2 sacks for them and 173 1/2 for his career — all unofficial, of course. Jones also was one of the most durable players, missing just five games in his pro career.

He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

"He was an icon among the icons," Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Even with his fellow Hall of Famers, Deacon Jones held a special status. He was a hard-charging football player and the original sack artist who coined the term. He is warmly regarded by his peers not only as one of the greatest players in NFL history, but also for his tremendous influence and sense of humor."

Jones was held in such high esteem that when he made the league’s 75th anniversary all-time squad, it prompted former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood to say: "Deacon Jones has been the most inspirational person in my football career."

That sort of praise was typical for Jones, the anchor of the Fearsome Foursome. Jones made the Pro Bowl every year from 1964-70 and played in eight overall. He combined with Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy on a defensive line that at times was unblockable.

Olsen died in 2010 at 69 and Lundy died in 2007 at 71. Grier, 80, is the only surviving member of the Fearsome Foursome.

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