Before there was the Steel Curtain, there was the Fearsome Foursome, the legendary defensive line of the Los Angeles Rams during the 1960's, consisting of tackles Rosey Grier and Merlin Olsen, along with defensive ends Lamar Lundy and David "Deacon" Jones.
Jones, the most dynamic member of the unit and considered by many to be the greatest pass rusher of all-time, passed away on Monday at his home in California. He was 74 years old.
Jones was selected by the Rams in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft and would go on to make seven Pro Bowls with Los Angeles before being traded to the Chargers in 1972, where he would earn one more Pro Bowl honor before ending his career with the Redskins in 1974.
Jones was credited with coining the phrase "quarterback sack." In this NFL Films clip, Jones, as only he could, expounded on his interpretation of the meaning:
"Sacking the quarterback is like you devastate a city, or you cream a multitude of people. I mean, it's like you take all the offensive players and put them in a bag, and I take a baseball bat and beat on the bag."
One of the weapons in Jones' arsenal was the "head-slap" (outlawed in 1977), a blow to the head of an offensive lineman that he used as a means to gain an extra step and sack the quarterback.
"Anytime you go upside a man's head, they may have a tendency to blink they eyes or close they eyes. And that's all I needed. Gale Sayers had a statement out saying all he needed was 16 inches [of daylight]. Well, all I needed was a blink of the old eyes, and I was by you."
By his own estimations, "The Secretary of Defense" racked up 173.5 sacks during his career. However, those numbers aren't official, because, ironically enough, the NFL didn't begin to recognize the sack as a stat until 1982. As a result, the legendary defensive lineman wasn't credited with any sacks during his career--including the 1967 and '68 seasons, when Jones unofficially racked up 50 sacks and won consecutive NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors--and doesn't appear among the all-time leaders in the category.
But anyone who ever watched Jones play, whether live or on an NFL Films highlight show, will attest to his greatness at getting to the quarterback.
Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.