Senior NFL Columnist

Robert Quinn on Deacon Jones: He was a little bit nasty out there

More on Robert Quinn: Examining Quinn's film | Breaking down Clowney

EARTH CITY. Mo. -- When Robert Quinn was coming out of North Carolina into the NFL in 2011 he knew very little about the name Deacon Jones or the Fearsome Foursome.

That has changed.

Quinn, the St. Louis Rams star defensive end, has eaten up the history of the Rams' defensive lines over the years (both Los Angeles and St. Louis).

That includes Jones, who some say is the best pass-rushing defensive end ever, and his buddies on the Fearsome Foursome line that used to abuse offensive lines and scare the hell out of opposing quarterbacks.

"The day before I got here I didn't know too much about it," Quinn said during a recent sitdown at the Rams' practice facility. "Being here, you want to learn about the history and what it was before you and what you have to live up to from the guys who set the path."

We put some of Deacon Jones' highlight plays on the screen in front of us here, and Quinn ate it up. He loved seeing Jones use his explosive speed to run down quarterbacks and running backs.

Deacon Jones was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1980.
Deacon Jones was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1980. (Getty Images)

"He changed the game with the way he played and wreaked havoc on the quarterback," Quinn said. "You have to be relentless as a defensive lineman and a little nasty. From looking at Deacon's film, he was a little bit nasty out there. No shame in it. "

A little nasty? Jones was best known for his head slap on offensive linemen, which he used as a way to violently shed and get past them while using his explosive speed. That move has long since been outlawed -- for a reason.

"Head-slapping was a little brutal," Quinn said.

When Jones played, sacks weren't kept as an official stat. Some who have gone back and watched the tape of his games insist he would be the all-time leader if they were. That's why the player who gets the most sacks each season is awarded he Deacon Jones Award. Robert Mathis of the Colts won it last season with 19½ sacks, just a half more than Quinn's 19.

"He invented the word sack," Quinn said. "For whoever has the most sacks, it's an honor to have it called the Deacon Jones Award. As a defensive lineman, we pride ourselves on how many sacks we can get. Thank you, Deacon. Rest in peace."


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
 
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