Deacon Jones of the Fearsome Foursome Dead at 74

deacon jones dead at 74

Hall of Fame defensive lineman David “Deacon” Jones died Monday night at his home in Southern California.  One of the “Fearsome Foursome” of the Los Angeles Rams, he succumbed to natural causes at the age of 74.

Jones was credited with the creation of the term “sack.”  It’s safe to say that opposing offensive linemen were intimidated by him, and were not fond of his style of play.  He was “cat-quick”, and possessed great strength enabling him to get to the quarterback.  But a move that captured the ire of opposing linemen was his infamous “head slap.”

The player directly across the line from Jones knew that he was going to get an open-handed slap to the side of his helmet.  It produced internal noise, and made the opposing player unsteady for a fraction of a second, allowing Jones to run by him.  It was later outlawed by the NFL.

“His eyes were as red as fire, and after he took his stance, he was pawing his leg in the dirt like a bull,” remembered Rayfield Wright of his first NFL start. Wright, playing with the Dallas Cowboys, was facing Jones in that 1969 game.

“As an offensive lineman, you’re taught only to hear the quarterback’s voice. Nothing else,” Wright said in the Sports Illustrated interview. “I’m listening in case there’s an audible, and in the pause between ‘Huts!’ I hear a deep, heavy voice say, ‘Does yo’ mama know you’re out here?’ It was Deacon Jones.”

“I developed a term that is used in the game right now called sacking the quarterback,” Jones is quoted on NFL.com. “Sacking a quarterback is just like you devastate a city or you cream a multitude of people. I mean it’s just like you put all the offensive players in one bag and I just take a baseball bat and beat on the bag.”

Jones was the leader of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome unit from 1961-71 and then played for San Diego for two seasons before finishing his career with the 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.

Jones made the Pro Bowl every year from 1964-70 and played in eight overall.

Jones was the leader of a defensive line that could change the outcome of a game.  Along with Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy, quarterbacks were pressured into errant passes, and frequently fumbled the football.

The Hall of Fame luncheon is often considered the best part of the weekend event by new inductees.  One of the main reasons was Deacon Jones, and his sense of humor.

“There are two people in this group who you are always going to hear first before you see them,” Hall of Fame guard Larry Little declared as they filed into the luncheon a few years ago. “Deacon Jones and Bobby Bell.”

Jones who died Monday night, will be missed at this year’s luncheon.  The Ram’s ‘Secretary of Defense,’ and leader of the Fearsome Foursome is dead at the age of 74.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express

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