David “Deacon” Jones, who died on 3 June after a short illness at the age of 74, was a Hall of Fame American footballer. A defensive end, he was credited with terming the word “sack” for how he knocked down opposing quarterbacks.
Jones was the leader of the Los Angeles Rams' “Fearsome Foursome” unit from 1961 until 1971 and then played for San Diego for two seasons before finishing his career with the Washington Redskins in 1974. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and made the league's 75th anniversary all-time squad.
“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history,” the Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, whose father, George, coached Jones with the Los Angeles Rams, said. “ Off the field, he was a true giant. His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him. He was cherished member of the Allen family and I will always consider him my big brother.”
Because sacks didn't become an official statistic until 1982, Jones' total is uncertain. His impact as a premier pass rusher and team leader is not. He made the Pro Bowl every year from 1964 until 1970 and played in eight overall. He combined with fellow Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Landry on the defensive line that, at times, was unblockable.
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.
The Rams' stats show Jones with 159 and a half sacks for them and 173 and a half for his career - all unofficial (a half-sack is when more than one player makes the sack). Jones also was one of the most durable players, missing only five games in his 14 seasons as a professional.
A 14th-round draft pick in 1961 out of Mississippi Valley State University, Jones was the first defensive lineman with 100 solo tackles, reaching that mark in 1967. He was later chief executive of his foundation, which he began in 1997, and made several trips to visit troops on duty in the Middle East.