The NFL has just lost a legend as Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones has passed away from natural causes at his home in Southern California at the age of 74.
Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen relayed the news via the team’s official website.
“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 was selected in the 14th round (186th overall) out of Mississippi Vocational (now known as Mississippi Valley State) in the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He spent his first 11 NFL seasons with the team, where he became a fixture along the the Rams’ lethal defensive line known as the “Fearsome Foursome” (along with Larry Lundy, Rosey Grier, and Merlin Olsen) and earned All-Pro honors for five straight seasons (1965-69), made eight trips to the Pro Bowl and was twice named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year (1967-68).
He was also named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team and specialized in quarterback sacks, a term he coined.
Sacks didn’t become an official NFL statistic until 1982, but it’s widely believed that if they had been recorded much earlier, Jones would be the NFL all-time leader today. According to the Rams’ media guide, Jones recorded a team-best 159.5 sacks with the franchise and 173.5 in his career. He racked up double-digit sacks seven times with the club and became the first defensive lineman to post 100 solo tackles in a season in 1967.
After 11 seasons in Los Angeles, Jones was traded in 1972 to the San Diego Chargers (1972-73) and concluded his career in 1974 with the Washington Redskins.
Nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense,” Jones is considered one of the greatest defensive players ever and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1980.
He was also active in the community and made several trips to visit troops in Iraq. His passion for shaping young minds led him to serve as the president and CEO of the Deacon Jones Foundation, which he started in 1997.
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to Like NFL Draft Insiders on Facebook and keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!