David “Deacon” Jones, who earned the nickname “The Secretary of Defense,” has died at his home in southern California at the age of 74. A spokesman for the NFL’s Washington Redskins says death was from natural causes.
Jones spent 14 seasons in the NFL, and played eight times in the league’s Pro Bowl game. He was inducted in 1980 into the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame.
Jones played college football at Mississippi Valley State, and was a 14th-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1961. He starred with the Rams for eleven seasons, becoming the leader of the team’s “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line, which also included fellow Hall-of-Famer Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy. Grier, at age 80, is the only surviving member of the foursome. Jones then spent two seasons with the San Diego Chargers, and finished his career in 1974 with the Redskins.
Following football, like Olsen, Grier and fellow NFL star Bubba Smith, Jones tried acting. He appeared in numerous television shows and commercials, and the 1978 Warren Beatty movie, “Heaven Can Wait.”
In 1997, Jones started his own foundation, and later made several trips to the Middle East to visit active-duty military troops.