“True Giant,” NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones Dies at 74

The defensive lineman credited with the phrase "sacking the quarterback" died at his Southern California home

NFL Hall of Famer David "Deacon" Jones, a member of the Los Angeles' Rams dominant Fearsome Foursome defensive line, died Monday night at his Southern California home. He was 74.

Jones died of natural causes at his Anaheim Hills residence, according to a statement from the Washington Redskins, the team with which Jones finished his NFL career in 1974.

"Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history," Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said in a statement. "Off the field, he was a true giant. His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him."

Jones is credited with terming the word "sack" for the way he tackled and knocked down opposing quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage. Sacks by individual defensive players were not kept as an official NFL statistic until 1982.

"A tremendously sad day for our Rams family with the passing of Deacon Jones," tweeted St. Louis Rams vice president of football operations and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff.

Jones was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

In 1999, Sports Illustrated called the 14-round draft pick from Mississippi Valley State the "defensive end of the century."

Starting in 1961, Jones played for 11 seasons in Los Angeles and teamed with Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy to form the quarterback's nightmare known at the "Fearsome Foursome."

Jones, who missed just five games in his 14-year career, was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1972 before finishing his career with Washington.


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