Deacon Jones, a Pro Football Hall of Famer considered by many to be one of the greatest defensive ends of all time, passed away at the age of 74 at his home in Southern California due to natural causes.
Jones was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 14th round (out of Mississippi Valley State) of the 1961 NFL Draft, and he spent most of his 14-year career with his original team, racking up eight Pro Bowl berths and five All-Pro honors. He also spent time with the San Diego Chargers in 1972 (where he, again, made the Pro Bowl) and 1973 before playing for Washington ‘Skins coach George Allen in his final season of his career in 1974.
Along the way, Jones became a valuable member and leader of the “Fearsome Foursome”from 1961-71 and earned the “Secretary of Defense” nickname, and he reportedly was the first to make use of the head slap in order to get a jump on the opposing offensive linemen.
“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history. Off the field, he was a true giant,” Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said in a statement. “[Jones’] passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him. He was cherished member of the Allen family… “I will always consider [Deacon Jones] my big brother.”
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and made the league’s 75th anniversary all-time squad.
Jones made the Pro Bowl every year from 1964-70. He combined with fellow Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy on a defensive line that at times was unstoppable.
Jones was the first defensive lineman with 100 solo tackles, reaching that mark in 1967. The Rams’ stats show Jones with 159½ sacks for them and 173½ for his career — all unofficial because sacks didn’t become an official statistic until 1982. Jones also was one of the most durable players, missing just five games in his 14 pro seasons.