David “Deacon” Jones, one of the greatest pass rushers in the history of the NFL, has passed away at the age of 74, according to the Associated Press. The Hall of Famer is said to have created the term “sack”, which is now an official statistic in the NFL.
According to the Washington Redskins, Jones died of natural causes.
Unfortunately for the defensive end, it wasn’t until 1982 that the NFL began to officially keep track of sacks, so no one knows for sure how many he actually racked up during his career.
"Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history. Off the field, he was a true giant," said Bruce Allen, the general manager of the Redskins and son of George Allen who coached Jones while he was with the Los Angeles Rams. "His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him. He was a cherished member of the Allen family and I will always consider him my big brother."
For 10 years, 1961-1971, Jones led the legendary Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Rams. He then went on to play two years with the San Diego Chargers and ended his run in 1974 as a member of the Redskins.
In 1980 he was voted into the Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
"Deacon Jones has been the most inspirational person in my football career," said Jack Youngblood, who played with Jones and is also in the Hall of Fame.
According to the Rams, Jones ended his career with 173.5 tackles—159.5 of them as a member of the Fearsome Foursome.
The Fearsome Foursome included Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, who died in 2010 at the age of 69, Lamar Lundy, who died in 2007 at the age of 71, Jones and Rosey Grier. Grier, at age 80, is the only member of the four who is still alive.
"The thing we've got to remember being players in this era is to really respect the game `back when,' because those guys could really play," said the St. Louis Rams’ Chris Long, son of Hall of Famer Howie Long. "Deacon Jones is a perfect example. This whole league and everybody in this game should honor the past and the players who played in that era. Those guys paved the way for us."