1. DE Deacon Jones
If sacks had been an official NFL statistic during his career, there’s no telling how many Jones would have tallied. But they weren’t until 1982, nearly a decade after Jones was done (1974).
Thankfully, someone did the research. Via the Pro Football Hall of Fame website’s post looking back on Jones upon his death in 2013, football historian John Turney credited Jones with 173.5 sacks in his career. That would put him third on the all-time list, behind only Bruce Smith (200 sacks) and Reggie White (198 sacks).
“The Secretary of Defense” led the “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line, with Merlin Olsen by his side for 10 of 11 seasons with the Rams. He created and perfected the head slap move, since banned by the league, but he also spoke about playing the game cleanly.
“I’m against cheap shots,” Jones proclaimed. “You should play clean and shoot square. If you play the game right, you can protect yourself from physical harm.”
Jones also coined the term “sack” to signify tackling a quarterback behind the line of scrimmage before he threw a pass.
“We needed a shorter term ,” Jones pointed out. “I gave it some thought and came up with the term ‘sack’. Like, you know, you sack a city – you devastate it. And the word is so short you can even get Deacon in front of Jones in some headlines.”
Jones literally invented a statistic, both in terms of execution and name. Not bad for a 14th-round pick.