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Deacon Jones

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Title: Deacon Jones  
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Subject: St. Louis Rams awards, Jack Youngblood, Kevin Carter (American football), Coy Bacon, Bryce Fisher
Collection: 1938 Births, 2013 Deaths, African-American Players of American Football, American Conference Pro Bowl Players, American Football Defensive Ends, American Rhythm and Blues Singers, Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease, Deaths from Lung Cancer, Los Angeles Rams Broadcasters, Los Angeles Rams Players, Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils Football Players, National Conference Pro Bowl Players, National Football League Announcers, People from Florida, People from Orange County, Florida, Players of American Football from Florida, Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductees, San Diego Chargers Players, South Carolina State Bulldogs Football Players, War (Band) Members, Washington Redskins Players, Western Conference Pro Bowl Players
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Deacon Jones

Deacon Jones
Jones in a 1971 promotional photo for his guest appearance on The Brady Bunch
No. 75
Position: Defensive end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1938-12-09)December 9, 1938
Place of birth: Eatonville, Florida, U.S.
Date of death: June 3, 2013(2013-06-03) (aged 74)
Place of death: Anaheim Hills, California, U.S.
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight: 274 lb (124 kg)
Career information
High school: Eatonville (FL) Hungerford
College: Mississippi Valley State
NFL draft: 1961 / Round: 14 / Pick: 186
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Sacks: 173.5
Interceptions: 2
Games played: 191
Stats at
Pro Football Hall of Fame

David D. "Deacon" Jones (December 9, 1938 – June 3, 2013) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and the Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

Jones specialized in [1]


  • Early life 1
  • College career 2
  • Professional career 3
    • Sacks 3.1
  • After football 4
    • Acting 4.1
    • Broadcasting 4.2
    • Business 4.3
    • Community involvement 4.4
    • Bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles 4.5
  • Honors 5
  • Personal 6
    • Death 6.1
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Jones was born in Eatonville, Florida, and lived in a four-bedroom house with his family of ten.[2] Jones attended Hungerford High School, where he played football, baseball, and basketball.[3] During high school, Jones developed a lump in his thigh and learned that it was a tumor; he had surgery to remove it.[2]

When he was 14 years old, he witnessed a carload of white teenagers laughingly hit an elderly black church woman with a watermelon. The woman died days later from the injury, and there was never a police investigation. "Unlike many black people then, I was determined not to be what society said I was," Jones later recounted. "Thank God I had the ability to play a violent game like football. It gave me an outlet for the anger in my heart."[4]

College career

Jones' college football career consisted of a year at South Carolina State University in 1958, followed by a year of inactivity in 1959 and a final season at Mississippi Vocational College in 1960.[5]

South Carolina State revoked Jones' scholarship after they learned that he was a part of a civil rights protest.[2] However, one of the assistant football coaches at South Carolina State was leaving to coach at Mississippi Vocational, and told Jones and some of the other African American players that he could get them scholarships at the new school.[2] While he was playing at Mississippi Vocational, he and his African American teammates had to sleep in cots in the opposing team's gym because motels would not take them on numerous occasions.[2]

Professional career

Jones was drafted in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He then earned a starting role as a defensive end and teamed with tackle Merlin Olsen to give Los Angeles a perennial All-Pro left side of the defensive line.[5] He became a part of the Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the Rams (along with Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier, and Olsen), which is now considered to have been one of the best defensive lines of all time.[6]

"I'm probably the toughest (expletive) here. Ain't no
question about that with me. I'm the toughest guy
here... I'm clean. I mean, I ain't got no marks on
me. I don't know nobody else who can say that
who came out of any sport. I ain't got no marks on
me, so I've got to be the baddest dude I know of."

Jones, in an interview with Kevin Jackson[7]

Jones won consensus All-Pro honors five straight years from 1965 through 1969 and was second-team All-Pro in 1964, 1970, and 1972. He was also in seven straight Pro Bowls, from 1964 to 1970, and was selected to an eighth after the 1972 season with the San Diego Chargers.[5] He was voted the team's Outstanding Defensive Lineman by the Los Angeles Rams Alumni in 1962, '64, '65, and '66. In 1971, Jones suffered a severely sprained arch, which caused him to miss four starts, and he ended the season with 4½ sacks, his career-low to that point.

In 1972, Jones was included in a multiplayer trade with the San Diego Chargers, where he was an instant success.[5] He was named San Diego's defensive captain and led all Chargers' defensive linemen in tackles and won a berth on the AFC Pro Bowl squad. He concluded his career with the Washington Redskins in 1974.[5] In the final game of his NFL career, the Redskins allowed him to kick the point-after-touchdown for the game's last score. Along the way, Jones was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Week four times: week 14, 1967; week 12, 1968; week 11, 1969; and week 10, 1970.

An extremely durable player, Jones missed only six games of a possible 196 regular-season encounters in his 14 National Football League seasons.[5]


Jones was considered by many to revolutionize the position of defensive end. He was credited with coining the phrase "sacking the quarterback".[8] In 1999, Jones provided an L.A. Times reporter with some detailed imagery about his forte: “You take all the offensive linemen and put them in a burlap bag, and then you take a baseball bat and beat on the bag. You’re sacking them, you’re bagging them. And that’s what you’re doing with a quarterback.”[4]

What separated Jones from every other defensive end was his speed and his ability to make tackles from sideline to sideline, which was unheard of in his time. He also was the first pass rusher to use the head slap, a move that he said was, " give myself an initial head start on the pass rush, in other words an extra step. Because anytime you go upside a man's head … or a woman; they may have a tendency to blink they [sic] eyes or close they eyes. And that's all I needed. "[9] “The head slap was not my invention, but Rembrandt, of course, did not invent painting. The quickness of my hands and the length of my arms, it was perfect for me. It was the greatest thing I ever did, and when I left the game, they outlawed it.”[4]

Pro Football Weekly reported he accumulated 173½ sacks over his career, which would be third on the all-time sack list. (Jones would have ranked first all-time at the time of his retirement, and since has been surpassed by two fellow Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Reggie White.) [10]

In 1967, Jones had 21½ sacks in only 14 games, which (if official) would stand as the single-season record. (The term "sack" had not yet been coined at the time, and official sack statistics were not recorded by the NFL until 1982.) Then in 1968, Jones tallied 22 sacks in 14 games, also more than the current NFL record.[11]

Unofficial annual sack totals
Year Sacks Team
1961 8 Los Angeles Rams
1962 12 Los Angeles Rams
1963 Los Angeles Rams
1964 22 Los Angeles Rams
1965 19 Los Angeles Rams
1966 18 Los Angeles Rams
1967 21½ Los Angeles Rams
1968 22 Los Angeles Rams
1969 15 Los Angeles Rams
1970 12 Los Angeles Rams
1971 Los Angeles Rams
1972 6 San Diego Chargers
1973 5 San Diego Chargers
1974 3 Washington Redskins

(Source: St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins Media Guides)

After football


Jones worked as a television actor, and appeared in numerous TV programs since the 1970s, most often appearing in cameo roles. He appeared in an episode of The Odd Couple where he and Oscar were in a television commercial selling shaving products. He appeared on The Brady Bunch, and in a Bewitched episode in 1969, he played a guard to the Giant's castle in "Jack & the Beanstalk". Jones also played himself on an episode of Wonder Woman in 1978.

In 1978, he played a Viking named 'Thall' in The Norseman. Fellow Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff joined Jones in that film, also portraying a Norseman.[12] That same year, Jones portrayed a fierce defensive lineman named 'Gorman' in the film Heaven Can Wait.

In the series G vs E, he played himself, but as an agent of "The Corps". He also played a role in the hit show, ALF, where he played a father figure to Alf.


Jones served as a color analyst for Rams broadcasts on KMPC radio in the 1994 season, teaming with Steve Physioc and Jack Snow.


Jones has worked for many companies, including the Miller Brewing Company, Haggar Clothing, Pacific Coast Medical Enterprises, and Epson America, and represented the NFL and Champion Products as spokesman for their Throwback campaigns.[1] Jones was also chairman for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals in their national hypertension awareness program.[1]

Community involvement reported that Jones made several trips to Iraq to visit the U. S. military.[1][13]

Jones served as the president and CEO of the Deacon Jones Foundation, an organization he founded in 1997 "to assist young people and the communities in which they live with a comprehensive program that includes education, mentoring, corporate internship, and community service."[1]

Bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles

Jones was one of the many former L.A. Rams players who disliked the team's controversial relocation to St. Louis in 1995. He was adamant in interviews and appearances to state that he played for Los Angeles, not St. Louis, and considered the Rams franchise there a different team that should have a different name, leaving the Rams name for L.A. He participated in many grassroots efforts to bring NFL football back to L.A. and also voiced support on many of the new stadium proposals .


He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1980, and was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994.[1] In 1999, he was ranked number 13 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the highest-ranked player to have played for the Rams franchise, the highest-ranked defensive end, and the second-ranked defensive lineman behind Bob Lilly. The same year, he was named by Sports Illustrated as the "Defensive End of the Century".[1]

  • 1980 – Elected to South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame[14]
  • 1981 – Voted to the Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame[15]
  • 1999 – Recipient of the Gale Sayers Lifetime Spirit Achievement Award[17]
  • 1999 – Awarded "The Order of the Leather Helmet" by the [18]
  • 2001 – Winner of the NFL Alumni Spirit Award for community service[19]
  • 2005 – Recipient of the Junior Seau Foundation "Legend of the Year Award"[20]
  • 2013 – An award for the league leader in sacks is named in his honor and awarded for the first time. Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts was the inaugural award winner.[23]


Jones has stated that he gave himself the nickname Deacon after joining the Rams because too many David Joneses were in the local phone book. "Football is a violent world and Deacon has a religious connotation," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1980. "I thought a name like that would be remembered."[24]

Deacon Jones's wife Elizabeth is the chief operating and financial officer of the Deacon Jones Foundation, based in Anaheim Hills, California.,[2] the community in which the couple lived.

Jones was a rhythm and blues singer during his football days, and was backed by the band Nightshift, which later became the group War. Jones sang onstage with Ray Charles,[25] performed on The Hollywood Palace in 1967 and 1968, and on The Merv Griffin Show in 1970. Jones was the inspiration for the name of the 1977 song "Deacon Blues" by Steely Dan.[26]


On June 3, 2013, Jones died at 74 of [29] Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King noted at his death that Jones had a profound effect on the way defense was played in the NFL and cited the influence on such later NFL stars as Lawrence Taylor, Deion Sanders, and Michael Strahan.[30] As a tribute to Jones, the NFL created the Deacon Jones Award, which will be given annually to the league leader in sacks.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "About Deacon". Deacon Jones Foundation. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Deacon Jones special: Page One". Pro Football Weekly. Archived from the original on September 5, 2001. 
  3. ^ "The Very Frightening Secretary of Defense: Was Deacon Jones the NFL's Meanest". Deacon Jones Foundation. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  4. ^ a b c Goldstein, Richard (6 June 2013). "Deacon Jones Dies at 74; Made Quarterback Sack Brutal and Enthralling". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Deacon Jones' HOF Profile". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  6. ^ Goldstein, Richard (2007-02-26). "Lamar Lundy, Lineman on the Rams' Fearsome Foursome, Dies at 71". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  7. ^ "10 Burning Questions for Deacon Jones". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  8. ^ "Jones, NFL coiner of 'sack the quarterback,' dies at 74". CNN U.S. (Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.). 4 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  9. ^ Deacon Jones' Equal Rights (& Lefts) For Women! on YouTube
  10. ^ Turney, John (2000-06-26). "Setting the record straight on all of those QB takedowns". Pro Football Weekly online. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  11. ^ See "Headslap" by John Klawitter, 1996. pp. 551-560.
  12. ^ "The Norseman (1978)". IMDb. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  13. ^ "Deacon Jones, Hall of Fame defensive end, dies at 74". 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  14. ^ "S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame: Honorees and Inductees". Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame". Central Florida Sports Commission. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Florida Sports Hall of Fame Inductees 1960 to Present". Florida Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Spirit Awards Finalists". Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "NFL Alumni to Honor Len Dawson, Deacon Jones and Paul Salata.". BW SportsWire. 24 August 1999. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Felix Jones Named 2011 NFL Alumni Spirit Award Recipient". Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Legend of the Year". Junior Seau Foundation. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  21. ^ "FHSAA announces 33-member All-Century football team". 12 December 2007. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  22. ^ Burwell, Bryan (27 September 2009). "Rams finally getting around to retiring Deacon Jones' jersey". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. McClatchey-Tribune News Service. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  23. ^ Alper, Josh (January 2, 2014). "Robert Mathis wins inaugural Deacon Jones Award". Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  24. ^ Thursby, Keith. "David 'Deacon' Jones dies at 74; Fearsome L.A. Rams lineman". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  25. ^ Farrar, Doug. "Legendary defensive end David ‘Deacon’ Jones dies at 74". Yahoo!. 
  26. ^ Myers, Marc. "How Steely Dan created Deacon Blues". 
  27. ^ News "NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones dead at 74" . Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  28. ^ Goldstein, Richard (June 4, 2013). "Deacon Jones, Fearsome N.F.L. Defensive End, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. 
  29. ^ "NFL legend Deacon Jones dies at 74". 4 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  30. ^ King, Peter. "Late Deacon Jones would have dominated any era". Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  31. ^ McIntyre, Brian (22 June 2013). "NFL to honor annual sacks leader with Deacon Jones Award".  

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