Tuesday, June 4, 2013

That's Really Speakin' Deacon: Remembering Deacon Jones

Deacon Jones was one of the most ferocious football players when it was time to line up against the opposing offensive line. Off the field he was quite a character and an occassional actor. Sadly, we lost him too soon at the age of 74.

The man credited with the coining the term "sack" to describe his takedown of a quarterback, passed away Monday evening of an undisclosed cause.

Jones was selected in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams, the team he spent the majority of his 14 year career with. Jones and Ram linemates Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy, and Rosie Greer became known as the "Fearsome Foursome" for the manner in which they abused linemen, running backs, and signal callers.

At 6'5", 272 lbs Jones was an imposing presence made more so by his on-field trash talk. Pro Football Weekly researched Jones' sack total since sacks weren't an officially recognized statistic until 1982 (eight years after Jones retired) and found the Hall of Fame left defensive end totalled 194.5 for his career. He had 10 or more sacks over a span of nine straight seasons and recorded 26 sacks alone during the 1967 season.1

Jones, whose given name was David, played for the Rams from 1961 thorough 1971. He then joined the San Diego Chargers for two seasons, and made the Pro Bowl for the eighth and final time in 1972. He played his final season in 1974 with the Washington Redskins.

Jones guested on a handful of TV series during and after his playing career and appeared in a couple of motion pictures, including "Heaven Can Wait" with Warren Beatty. My favorite was his appearance on one of my all time favorite TV series, "The Odd Couple", in which he appeared as himself in the first TV commercial that Felix Unger (Tony Randall) ever directed.

Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman) was supposed to say the majority of lines and Jones was basically just going to nod (Madison had explained that Jones was very quiet). When Madison got stage fright, Jones stepped up and delivered the lines for the final cut. That led to Unger's line, "That's really speakin' Deacon."

Whether on the field or off, Deacon Jones was never afraid to speak his mind. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

1 - ESPN.com

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