Rams will retire Jones' No. 75 jersey during game vs. Packers
ST. LOUIS -- The No. 75 jersey of Deacon Jones, the defensive end who coined the term "quarterback sack," will be retired by the St. Louis Rams during their Sunday home opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo loves the idea of honoring Jones, who played for the franchise from 1961 to 1971 when it was in Los Angeles.
"I think it's great," Spagnuolo said. "I remember watching him when I was growing up, and it will be an honor and a real pleasure to meet him."
Jones, dubbed the "Secretary of Defense," had 159.5 sacks with the Rams and finished his career with 173.5 sacks after also playing for the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins. He reached double-digit totals seven times and had three seasons of 20 sacks or more, including 21 in 1967, even though the NFL didn't make sacks an official statistic until 1982.
Those numbers astound Rams veteran defensive end Leonard Little.
"He was one of the best defensive ends of all time," Little said. "I can't imagine 21 sacks. The most I've ever had was 14, and I thought that was a lot. He was one of the greatest."
Second-year defensive end Chris Long said he has seen Jones only on film.
"That's a man right there. That's the best way I could describe him," Long said. "He played the game ferociously, and it was pretty awesome to hear about how he carried himself."
During the 1967 season, Jones became the first defensive lineman to record 100 solo tackles.
The NFL honored Jones as the Defensive Player of the Year twice, in 1967 and '68. He was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times, including seven consecutive seasons (1964-1970) with the Rams.
Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980, Jones was part of the famous Rams line that was nicknamed the "Fearsome Foursome." Jones joined Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier to form one of the best defensive lines in NFL history.
"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," Long said. "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."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press