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Deacon Jones
Defensive end
Jersey #(s)
Born December 9, 1938 (1938-12-09) (age 71)
Eatonville, Florida
Career information
Year(s) 19611974
NFL Draft 1961 / Round: 14 / Pick: 186
College South Carolina State
Mississippi Valley State
Professional teams
Career stats
Sacks 173.5
Interceptions 2
Games played 190
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

David D. "Deacon" Jones (born December 9, 1938 in Eatonville, Florida) is a former 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 quarterback sacks, a term attributed to him. Nicknamed the "Secretary of Defense", Jones is considered one of the greatest defensive players ever.[1] The Los Angeles Times called Jones, "Most Valuable Ram of All Time," and former Rams head coach George Allen called him the "Greatest Defensive End of Modern Football".[1]


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]

College career

Jones' college football career consisted of a year at South Carolina State University in 1957, followed by a year of inactivity in 1958 and a final season at Mississippi Vocational College (since renamed Mississippi Valley State University) in 1960.[4]

South Carolina State revoked Jones' scholarship after they learned that he was a part of a civil rights movement.[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 black players that he could get them scholarships at the new school.[2] While he was playing at Mississippi Vocational, he and his black teammates had to sleep in cots in the opposing team's gym because motels wouldn’t take them on numerous occasions.[2]

Professional career

Jones was drafted in the fourteenth 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.[4] 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 one of the best lines of all time.[5]

"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[6]

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.[4] 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 multi-player trade with the San Diego Chargers where he was an instant success.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4]


Jones was considered by many to revolutionize the position of defensive end. Jones was noted for coining the "sack". What separated Jones from every other defensive end was his blinding speed and his ability to make tackles from sideline to sideline, which was unheard of in his time.

Pro Football Weekly reported he accumulated 173½ sacks over his career, which would be third on the all-time sack list.[7]

In 1967, Jones claims that he amassed 26 sacks in only 14 games, which (if official) would be 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 he claims he had 24 sacks in 14 games, yet again more than the current NFL record. The sum total of these 2 seasons would give him 50 sacks in 2 seasons, far more than anyone else has achieved.

Unofficial Annual Sack Totals

1961 8, 1962 12, 1963 6, 1964 22, 1965 19, 1966 18, 1967 21, 1968 22, 1969 15, 1970 12, 1971 4½, 1972 6, 1973 5, 1974 3
(Source: St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins Media Guides)

After football


Jones has worked as a television actor, and appeared in numerous TV programs since the 1970s, most often appearing in cameo roles. He appeared in a memorable episode of The Odd Couple where he and Oscar were in a television commercial together, hawking shaving products. He appeared on The Brady Bunch The Drummer Boy first. He also appeared in a Bewitched episode in 1969 and played himself on an episode of Wonder Woman in 1978.

In 1978 he played a Viking named 'Thall' in "The Norseman" [8] Fellow Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff joined Jones in that film, also portraying a Norseman. Also in 1978 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. His distant cousin, Tyler Madarasz, also appeared in this episode.


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

Jones recently traveled to Iraq to meet with troops stationed there and U.S. General Tommy Franks.[1]

Jones currently serves 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]


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]

  • 1978 Elected to South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
  • 1980 Inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • 1981 Voted to the Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame
  • 1995 Elected to Black Sports Hall of Fame
  • 1996 Recipient of the first annual Round Table Award Presented by Pop Warner Little Scholars
  • 1999 Recipient of the Gale Sayers Lifetime Spirit Achievement Award
  • 1999 Awarded "The Order of the Leather Helmet" by the NFL Alumni Organization, their highest honor
  • 2001 Winner of the NFL Alumni Spirit Award for community service
  • 2005 recipient of the Junior Seau Foundation Legend of the Year Award
  • 2009 his number 75 was retired by the St. Louis Rams on September 27, 2009 at the Edward Jones Dome..[9]


Jones was a rhythm and blues singer during his football days, being backed by the band Nightshift, which later became War. Jones appeared as a singer on "The Hollywood Palace" in 1967 and 1968, and on the Merv Griffin Show in 1970, performing his singing skills.


Jones is married to his wife Elizabeth, who is the chief operating and financial officer of the Deacon Jones Foundation. Deacon Jones makes his home in Anaheim Hills.[2]


External links

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