Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones passed away Monday from natural causes at his home in Southern California. He was 74.
General manager of the Washington Redskins, Bruce Allen relayed the news via the team’s official website.
“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history. Off the field, he was a true giant. His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him,” said Allen. “He was cherished member of the Allen family and I will always consider him my big brother.”
Jones was selected in the 14th round (186th overall) out of Mississippi Vocational (now known as Mississippi Valley State) in the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He spent his first 11 NFL seasons with the team.
The Rams had only one winning season from 1963 to 1966, the span in which all four “Fearsome” players were teammates. But Jones became a marquee figure — sometimes called the Secretary of Defense — playing left end alongside tackle Merlin Olsen, who was also chosen for the 75th anniversary team, in a line including right tackle Roosevelt Grier, who was known as Rosey, and right end Lamar Lundy. Lundy died in 2007 and Olsen in 2010. Jones’s death leaves Grier, age 80, as the last survivor of the Fearsome Foursome.
He was selected six times to the All-Pro team and played in eight Pro Bowls. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and was one of three defensive ends on the all-N.F.L. 75th anniversary team selected in 1994 by a vote of the news media and league personnel.
After 11 seasons in Los Angeles, Jones was traded in 1972 to the San Diego Chargers (1972-73) and concluded his career in 1974 with the Washington Redskins.
Jones’s survivors include his wife, Elizabeth, and a stepson, Greg Pinto, The Los Angeles Times reported.
After retiring from football, Jones broadcast for the Rams on radio, acted on television programs, did Miller Lite beer commercials and created the Deacon Jones Foundation.