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Sports Then and Now



Remembering Deacon Jones, the Secretary of Defense 1

Posted on June 04, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Deacon Jones was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded 20 or more sacks in four seasons.

Deacon Jones was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded 20 or more sacks in four seasons.

The NFL lost an all-time great with the death this week of Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones at the age of 74.

While he will be remembered as a revolutionary defender who invented the term “sack” and the now-outlawed “head slap”, Jones was more than just another great player.

At a time when African American players were just gaining wide-spread acceptance, Jones beat the odds to become one of the best players of his generation.

Born in Eatonville, Florida (near Orlando), Jones attended Hungerford High School and then South Carolina State. After just one season, Jones lost his scholarship after being involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He then played one season at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State) before being drafted in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.

Though unheralded, Jones soon established himself as a rising star and became part of one of the greatest defensive lines in NFL history. During the 1960s, the “Fearsome Foursome” developed into a key component of the turnaround of the Rams from a perennial loser to a consistent playoff contender.

When Jones joined the Rams in 1961, Lamar Lundy was already on the squad as a defensive tackle. The year after Jones, Merlin Olsen was drafted by the Rams and became one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history.  The line was complete when Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier was traded to the Rams from the Giants in 1963.

Over the next three seasons, the defensive front became one of the best in football, but the Rams were still unable to develop into a winning team. Read the rest of this entry →

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