How Eatonville’s Deacon Jones made NFL history
Los Angeles Rams player was a civil rights advocate
David Jones was born on Dec. 9, 1938, grew up in Eatonville and graduated from the historic Hungerford High School in 1957. Jones would eventually become one of the greatest, most impactful players in NFL history. In fact, David “Deacon” Jones changed the game.
Selected in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL draft out of Mississippi Vocational College, now Mississippi Valley State, Jones became one of the most feared Los Angeles Rams in the franchise’s history, a quarterback’s worst nightmare.
With his 6 foot 5 inch height, strength and speed, the defensive end made a living sprinting down signal-callers, his never-ending wingspan splayed wide, ready to wrap up the likes of Johnny Unitas or Bart Starr.
A kind of pass-rusher that hadn’t been seen before, it’s said Jones coined the term “sack.” He certainly showed other players how it’s done.
According to Pro Football Weekly, the son of Eatonville finished with 173.5 sacks in his 14 year NFL career, third to only Bruce Smith and Reggie White.
Nicknamed “The Secretary of Defense,” Jones played in the NFL from 1961-1974, primarily for the Rams, making up a part of Los Angeles’ famed “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line.
He played the final 3 seasons of his NFL career with the Chargers and Redskins.
When he retired from the game, he had made 8 Pro Bowls, 5 All-Pro Teams, and was twice named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility, cemented Jones’ legend for his abilities on the football field.
Jones was also more than a football player. He was an advocate for civil rights. He was a philanthropist, establishing the “Deacon Jones Foundation” which aided underprivileged young people and their communities. He also dabbled in acting and was a businessman.
Jones died June 3, 2013, at 74 in California. His legacy as one of the greatest, most influential athletes to ever come from Central Florida lives on.
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