David "Deacon" Jones Biography

One of the greatest defensive lineman of all time, and one of the most flamboyant, was named David Jones. Don’t know that guy?  Well, you might know him better by his nickname, Deacon. The nickname was given to him by, you guessed it, himself, because he said nobody would ever remember a player named David Jones.

An unknown player out of South Carolina State, as well as Mississippi Valley State after transferring, he was a 14th round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1961. Being drafted that late did not give him much hope to stay with the team, however his speed and ferocious power kept him in Los Angeles for ten seasons, then two with the Chargers and a final hurrah with the Redskins in 1974.

In addition to creating a nickname for himself, he also coined the term "sack," to describe tackling a QB behind the line of scrimmage.

In 1967, for instance, Rams quarterbacks were sacked 25 times all year, but Deacon by himself dropped opposing quarterbacks 26 times.  He would join Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy to form a defensive front dubbed The Fearsome Foursome.

Deacon Jones at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Deacon Jones at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton Ohio August 3, 2003.

Deacon Jones also invented the head slap, which was a slap to the offensive lineman’s helmet that gave him an edge to use his speed and power to get past his blocker. The head slap was ruled illegal, and many point to Jones as the reason why the rule was created. Some say causing a rule change in your sport is what makes a player considered "great."

Considered by many the best defensive end ever, Deacon was twice named the NFL's outstanding defensive player, selected to play in eight Pro Bowls, named All-NFL or All-NFC six times, and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Nicknamed the "Secretary of Defense", Jones is considered one of the greatest defensive players ever. 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".

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

After his career ended, Jones became active in charity work, and 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.

Deacon Jones is on our NFL All-Time Team. Check it out to see who else made it.

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