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George Allen, who coached the Fearsome Foursome, called Jones the "greatest defensive end of modern football." The Allen family had Jones present George Allen for his Hall of Fame induction in 2002, yet another example of the regard in which Jones was held.
"Not only to coin the term sack, but just his personality of being a defensive lineman; his charisma and his presence," Smith, the career sacks leader by official count with 200, told NFL Network. "When he walked into the room, he commanded respect, whether it was on the playing field or his choice of words. This is going to be a great loss for all of the football nation, the fans and particularly those who loved him dearly like myself."
After he retired, Jones appeared in some TV commercials and later began an eponymous foundation in Anaheim Hills, Calif., that encourages youngsters from inner-city schools to become leaders in their community.
The Redskins said Jones died of natural causes. In 2009, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he had undergone lung surgery and received a pacemaker. That year, the Rams retired his jersey number, 75.
As for that nickname, well, when Jones joined the Rams out of Mississippi Valley State as a 14th-round draft pick in 1961, he wanted to make himself memorable. Eventually, he’d do so every game on the field, terrorizing blockers, runners and passers.
At first, though, he believed he needed to stand out on the roster.
"No one would remember a player named David Jones — there are a thousand David Joneses in the phone book," he said. "I picked out Deacon because it has a religious connotation and it would be remembered in the violent pro football world. When the Rams sent out my player questionnaire, I simply listed my name as Deacon Jones. From then on, that’s what I was."
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