So much of the NFL is about appreciation and respect. Deacon Jones commanded both and when he passed away at age 74 on Monday you can bet that he slapped right by whoever first saw him on the other side.
Known as the Sackmaster, Jones scoffed at offensive linemen who self-proclaimed themselves as the best in the business. The reckless abandon that Deacon played resulted in him pioneering an NFL mainstay — the Hall of Fame defensive end is credited with creating the “sack” category. Considering the all important statistic didn’t come into affect until 1982 there is no telling just how many the great defensive end could have racked up.
Whenever the conversation goes to the harder, grittier and more dangerous days of professional football Deacon’s name is one of the first to pop up.
The fear that he put into opposing quarterbacks and even running backs was felt on a weekly basis. I sincerely wish Jones could have played in the modern era when teams are dropping back over 50 times a game to pass because he would have put up some historic sack numbers. The St. Louis Rams surely wish the Fearsome Foursome unit from 1961-71 could be relived here in 2013, but instead the Rams will be forced to play with heavy hearts and a No.75 patch on their sleeves.
While it wasn’t sexy and did it have the appeal that it does now, the NFL that Jones played in was exciting and it was defensive masterminds like him that made it so special.
Ultimately, the legacy for Jones will be that every time a player like J.J. Watt has a monstrous season they are immediately compared to Jones, which is the ultimate sign of respect and appreciation.