This is what I imagine a concussion feels like.

If you are like me, you probably became acquainted with Deacon Jones via top ten lists on NFL Network. For almost every top ten list they did, one of the random talking heads they’d get to offer a take for fluff was this old mean black guy who never had anything nice to say about quarterbacks. His name was David Jones. According to this profile on him, he called himself Deacon because he thought David was too common. I am personally offended but he’s not wrong. It’s like he’s headslapping me from the grave.

Deacon was before my time, before the time of most people outside boomers. As such I think he’s been overlooked a little bit. He never won a championship, he wasn’t a heralded pick, and he played in the era before sacks were a legitimate stat. But when you take a moment to examine his career, there is a pretty good argument to be made he’s the best pass rusher of all time. At least among the best. He was part of the fearsome foursome and his legendary move was whapping you upside the noggin while he charged. He figured out that slapping people would cause them a brief moment of disorientation, and he’d use that brief moment to leave you in the dust. Naturally, this is not legal today. The headslap was outlawed a long time ago, even before the modern concussion crisis of the mid-2010’s.

The headslap is kind of Deacon’s best known legacy, but I wanted to make a comic about him because Pro Football Reference recently went and added unofficial pre-1982 sack data to their website. Sacks were not a stat before 1982, and a lot of people have wondered how well players like Jones would have held up if it was modern. Notably, Michael Strahan’s controversial single-season sack record would sit behind Al Baker, who got 23 in 1978, during a 14 game season. Jones also played in the 14 game era, and his numbers make that knowledge even more striking.

Jones got over 20 sacks 3 times. He reached 22 twice. In a 14 game season, that likely means he’d probably hold the record if he played in a 16 game season. The sack record is likely to fall soon thanks to the extra game (and presumed move to 18 in the near future) but if Deacon Jones played 18 games he’d probably still hold the record. The dude was a monster.

On the unofficial career leaderboard, Jones (173.5) sits at #3, behind Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198). Thing is, Bruce Smith played 88 more games than Deacon did. Reggie played 41 more games than Deacon did. Both Bruce and Reggie played in a more pass-friendly era than Deacon did. Deacon Jones was an absolute beast and deserves to be better remembered as one of the best of all time. If you didn’t know who he was, or much about him before you read this post, I hope you understand him now. He literally coined the term “sack”. He was a pick in the 14th round, so eat shit Tom “Wah I’m a 6th rounder” Brady.

Jones passed away in 2013. RIP to a legend of the game.