David “Deacon” Jones has garnered the reputation as being one of the greatest players to play in the NFL behind an incredible career. The Former Los Angeles Rams great defensive end has been credited for coining the word sack while being one of the most vicious tacklers in league history behind his infamous “Head Slap” technique that put fear in his opponents. Jones found tremendous success on the field and into retirement, but his life came to a tragic end.
Deacon Jones’ NFL career
Deacon Jones entered the NFL as 186th overall pick in the 14th round of the 1961 draft, which he quickly took off into stardom with the Rams.
Jones was overlooked coming out of Mississippi Valley State due to the lack of technology with television coverage and scouting reports. He garnered attention from the Rams after he was seeing outrunning the opposing running back on film. He latched himself into a significant role from the get-go as he paired out alongside fellow Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen to form a dominant left side of the defensive line.
It wasn’t long after that Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier joined the fray to give the team their vaunted “Fearsome Foursome” that was a massive part of their success over the years. He earned eight Pro Bowl selections, five First-Team All-Pro nods, three Second-Team All-Pro nominations, and two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Sacks were not accredited until 1982, but Jones had piled up an incredible list of 173.5 career sacks. That would have put him first all-time when he retired, which since been passed by Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Reggie White. It saw him rack up double-digit sacks 10 times tallying over 20 sacks three times topped by reaching 22.0 twice, which would have been a league record.
Deacon Jones’ retirement from NFL
Jones spent his first 11 seasons in the league with the Rams, where he became one of the league’s most feared defensive players.
He spent his final three seasons with two being with the San Diego Chargers, and his last with the Washington Redskins. He retired after the 1974 season, which he received a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 1980 along with his No. 75 jersey retired by the Rams. He has also been named to the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams and to the NFL’s 1960’s All-Decade Team.
In retirement, he picked up acting as he had roles in shows such as The Odd Couple, The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, and Wonder Woman. He also delved into broadcasting as he was the color analyst for the Rams broadcast radio team in 1994.
Deacon Jones’ tragic death
Deacon Jones remained a prominent figure in the Rams’ history over the years, especially when the team moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995.
He was one of the most vocal figures voicing for the franchise to move back to the city he played in with the team that eventually happened in 2016. Jones’ latter years were a bit rough as he struggled with his health as that saw him deal with lung cancer and heart disease. That led to him passing away on June 3, 2013, at age 74.
Jones’ legacy has only continued to ring louder in the years after his passing as he regarded as one of the most impactful players in league history. The NFL has created the Deacon Jones Award, which is given each year to the player that finished with the most sacks. Jones had a one of a kind career that has forever ingrained him in football lore.