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'Deacon' Jones, The NFL's Original Sackmaster, Dies

David "Deacon" Jones, a hall of fame defensive lineman credited with coining the term "sack" for how he would tackle opposing teams' quarterbacks, has died.

He was 74.

According to the NFL's Washington Redskins, the last team Jones played for, he "passed away [Monday] from natural causes at his home in Southern California."

The Pro Football Hall of Fame says of Jones that, "blessed with speed, agility, and quickness, the 'Deacon' became one of the finest pass rushers in the business." In the 1960s, he "teamed with tackle Merlin Olsen to give Los Angeles a perennial All-Pro left side of the defensive line." They were joined on the Rams' line by Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy to form what became known as the "fearsome foursome." (Olsen died in March 2010; our post about him is here. Lundy died in 2007.)

Over the course of his NFL career, the hall of fame says, Jones:

"Won unanimous all-league honors six straight years from 1965 through 1970. He also played in seven straight Pro Bowls, 1965-1971, and was selected to an eighth in 1973. In both 1967 and 1968, he was chosen the top defensive player in the NFL by one major news service."

He retired after the 1974 season.

Although he's the father of the sack — or at least the word used for the tackling of a quarterback behind the line of scrimmage — Jones isn't among the all-team leaders in that statistic. But NFL.com says that's only because:

"Sacks weren't kept as an official NFL statistic until 1982. Had they been kept far earlier, few doubt Jones would have been among the NFL's all-time leaders. According to the Rams' media guide, Jones recorded a team-best 159.5 sacks with the franchise and 173.5 in his career. He recorded double-digit sacks seven times with the Rams and became the first defensive lineman to post 100 solo tackles in a season (1967)."

The Associated Press adds that "Jones also had several small acting roles both during and after his playing career. He was a guest star on a handful of television shows — including episodes of Bewitched, The Brady Bunch and The Odd Couple — and appeared in the 1978 Warren Beatty film Heaven Can Wait."

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