The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

Deacon Sacks Up

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When it comes to great defensive draft picks, look no further than David "Deacon" Jones. The self-proclaimed "toughest [expletive] here," Jones was picked in the 14th round of the 1961 draft by the Los Angeles Rams -- 186th overall. His background of picking watermelons in the rural south and playing just two non-consecutive years of college ball before going pro, make his rise all the more incredible.

Plucked from perennial powerhouse Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State), after being kicked out of South Carolina State for participating in a civil rights demonstration, Jones went on to become arguably the greatest defensive end ever. Weighing 275 pounds and possessing Carl Lewis type speed, Deacon terrorized offensives with a play he called "the quarterback sack."

As The Sporting News, which picked him as their 13th best NFL player ever, eloquently put it, "[t]rying to ignore Deacon Jones was like trying to ignore a parade through your living room." The lynchpin of L.A.'s Fearsome Foursome, he made the Pro Bowl 8 times (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972), was twice Defensive Player of the Year (1967, 1968), was a first ballot Hall of Famer and was selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

But it was his blitzing prowess that separated him. Over his fourteen year career, Jones racked up an estimated 173.5 sacks (they only started keeping that stat in 1982) -- third overall and an NFL record until 1997. More impressive still were his yearly totals. From 1964 to 1968, Jones averaged 20.4 sacks per season (and they only played 14 games a year back then!). To give some perspective, the current single season record for sacks is 22.5, held by Michael Strahan. Lawrence Taylor, considered by many to be the greatest defensive player ever, never had more than 20.5 in a year. Deacon had two 22 sack seasons (1964 and 1968) and a 21 sack year in 1967.

If that weren't enough, Jones's durability was second to none. Out of 196 professional starts, he only missed six. As Deacon famously quipped: "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."

The baddest dude and the greatest NFL defensive draft pick ever.

By Emil Steiner  |  April 10, 2009; 11:43 AM ET  | Category:  Draft , Emil Steiner , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Eyes Have It | Next: The Art of Defense

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How is there even a question on this? You are right. The greatest defensive lineman in NFL history -- a 14th round pick? Winner, winner -- you know what kind of dinner!

Posted by: gpwh2os | April 10, 2009 2:11 PM

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