David "Deacon" Jones
David "Deacon" Jones, the original sackmaster, has died. Reuters

NFL Hall of Famer David “Deacon” Jones died on Monday night. According to statement issued by the Washington Redskins, Jones died of natural causes at his home in Southern California at the age of 74.

Nicknamed the "Secretary of Defense," Jones is considered one of the greatest defensive players of all time. The Los Angeles Times called Jones "Most Valuable Ram of All Time," and former Rams head coach George Allen called him the "Greatest Defensive End of Modern Football."

"Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history. Off the field, he was a true giant," Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, whose father, George, coached Jones with the Los Angeles Rams, said in a statement. "His passion and spirit will continue to inspire those who knew him. He was a cherished member of the Allen family and I will always consider him my big brother."

In 1967, Jones had 26 sacks in only 14 games, which (if official) would be the single season record. The term "sack" hadn't yet been coined at the time, and official sack statistics weren't recorded by the NFL until 1982. Then, in 1968, Jones had 24 sacks in 14 games, also more than the current NFL record.

Jones was the leader of the Rams' Fearsome Foursome unit from 1961-71 and then played for San Diego for two seasons before finishing his career with the Redskins in 1974. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and made the league's 75th anniversary all-time squad.

Jones also had several small Hollywood acting roles both during and after his playing career. He was a guest star on several television shows -- including episodes of "Bewitched," "The Brady Bunch" and "The Odd Couple" -- and appeared in the 1978 Warren Beatty film "Heaven Can Wait."

Most recently, Jones traveled to Iraq to meet with troops stationed there and U.S. General Tommy Franks. He also served as the president and CEO of the Deacon Jones Foundation, an organization he founded in 1997 "to assist young people and the communities in which they live with a comprehensive program that includes education, mentoring, corporate internship, and community service."