- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 4, 2002

Deacon Jones is 63 years old now, a lot leaner and a lot nicer than when he loomed over quarterbacks as one of the NFL's best defensive ends ever in the '60s and early '70s. Yet one disagrees with him at one's own risk. There is the suspicion that he might summon up one of those vicious headslaps at a moment's notice, even in the hubbub of a downtown restaurant at midday.

During a busy visit this week to promote awareness and treatment of hypertension among blacks, a subject about which he is characteristically emphatic, Jones took a break to discuss the new boy in town and how he used to lay "a few good licks" on Steve Spurrier when the future genius was the San Francisco 49ers' No. 2 QB behind John Brodie.

"Sure, I had his [buttocks] in my arms," Jones recalled, relishing the memory. Deacon remembers most of his sacks, a notable achievement considering that he had more of them during an 11-year career with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins than any other man save the redoubtable Reggie White and, in fact, coined the term. During eight seasons with the Rams, Jones was a member of the famed Fearsome Foursome except that sometimes he must have seemed like all four of them to opponents.

Perhaps grateful that he didn't permanently crush any part of Spurrier's anatomy (and imagine how grateful Steve feels), Jones has become a fan of the Redskins' latest coaching savior. Sort of.

"He has a brilliant offensive mind, and with the personnel the Redskins have, I can see him being an immediate winner here," Jones said. "The only question is "

Yes, yes?

" His ability to deal with his veteran players. He has to get them to accept his philosophy, but it can't be 'my way or the highway.'"

Did somebody mention Marty Schottenheimer?

"Yeah, that's where Marty went wrong last year. If I'm a veteran player, you've got to let me do my thing as long as I do it well. You better show me respect as a player and a man or I'm gone."

Perhaps after leaving a few headslaps behind?

"Hey, you want to see my headslap? No. Well then you better believe that I can still do it. In fact, I could still fake it and still play in this league. Heck, you don't have to play every down nowadays everybody's a specialist."

Though Jones comes with a generous supply of bombast (I didn't tell him that while I still was in slapping range), a lot of his opinions make sense. He's used to dishing them out, too, as host of Fox Sports Net's "NFL This Morning" weekly talk show.

"Take all the showboating players do now when they make a tackle it's just ridiculous, humiliating. In my day, we took care of that ourselves. If you show me up, on the next play I'm gonna put a hit on you, and you're going to the hospital with a torn stomach."

Deacon laughed. There was no mirth in it.

"Oh, I understand why they do it now the league wants everybody to be an entertainer. Used to be that if you jumped around like that, the league or your owner would fine you. Now they encourage it."

Same laugh.

Today's salaries, and their effect on ticket prices, are another irritant to Jones. When he joined the Rams in 1961, "the best seat in the [L.A.] Coliseum cost $5.50 and a program cost 50 cents. My top salary was $120,000. But you know, we didn't play for the money. When I played, every game was a case of 'I whip you or you whip me' that was it. It was a badge of courage to play with a broken bone. Nowadays, with all that money, how can guys have the same motivation? I'll tell you they can't."

Jones was pretty much done when he joined the Redskins for his final season in 1974 as a belated addition to George Allen's "Ramskins" who had turned a perennial loser into a big winner a few years earlier. Yet in that final season, he and his coach cemented a bond they had formed when Allen coached the Rams from 1966 to 1970. Probably their common, and uncommon, intensity had something to do with it.

"George was really something," Jones said of Allen, who died in 1990. "He hated to have you guys [media wretches] watch us practice. He hated to have anybody watch practice. I mean, groups of school kids would come out, and he didn't even want them there."

When Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, Allen was his presenter. This summer, when Allen belatedly enters, Deacon will return the favor "by unanimous consent of the Allen family. That will be one of my biggest thrills."

Meanwhile, Jones will tour on behalf of hypertension awareness, run his charitable foundation in Los Angeles, maybe do some more TV acting and perhaps write another book. Unstartlingly, the title of his 1994 autobiography was "Headslap." You were expecting maybe "The History of Crocheting"?

"Hey," Deacon said. "Let me show you my headslap "

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