Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen announced his death, according to the New York Times. Allen's father, George Allen, coached Jones through much of his career, and Jones ended his NFL career for the Redskins. The official team Twitter published the news Tuesday morning.
Bruce Allen also released a statement remembering Jones.
“Deacon Jones was one of the greatest players in NFL history. Off the field, he was a true giant,” Allen said. "I will always consider him my big brother."
Jones had long suffered from heart problems and lung cancer. In 2009, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was recovering from a pacemaker implant and lung surgery in May 2009. Jones died from natural causes in his Southern California home, according to the Washington Post.
With the Rams, Jones played as part of the "Fearsome Foursome" alongside Larry Lundry, Rosey Grier and Merlin Olsen, who became his best friends. He earned the nickname "Secretary of Defense" for his work as a defensive end.
Jones specialized in quarterback sacks and is credited with coining the term. He also clotheslined players and applied his signature move, a head slap to offensive linemen that got between him and the quarterback he was set to sack. The move was later banned by the NFL.
Jones started his career in the 1961 NFL Draft after leaving Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State). He was picked by the Los Angeles Rams. He spent 14 years with the team and earned near-endless honors.
With the Rams, he went to the Pro Bowl eight times and was selected as an All Pro five times. He is considered one of the best defensive players of all time and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named him the Defensive End of the Century.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame posted a video with Jones describing his favorite games.