another obit coinage claim

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 5 05:12:05 UTC 2013

Here is some preliminary evidence relevant to the question of coinage.
During an interview published in the Los Angeles Times in January 1980
Deacon Jones claimed that he coined the term "sack" with the modern
football sense.

The term "sacks" was used with the modern football sense by September
29, 1970. I will skip the details for this cite because I am sure it
can be antedated.

Date: January 27, 1980
Newsspaper: Los Angeles Times
Article title: Deacon Jones Sacks Hall of Fame
Author: Bob Oates
Newspaper location: Los Angeles, California
Start Page: D1
Quote Page: D9
Column 1
Database: ProQuest

The first paragraph below contains the words of Deacon Jones, The next
single line is the reporter speaking. The final paragraph is Jones.

[Begin excerpt]
"As a young man, the thing I did best was tackle the passer behind the
line of scrimmage. But to this very day, I've never read a newspaper
headline that said 'Jones Tackles Unitas Behind Line of Scrimmage Four
Times.' We needed a new word. I gave it some thought and started
talking about sacking the quarterback. I'd say I had five sacks

It's an expressive term.

"Beautiful, isn't it? To sack a guy is to fire him, get rid of him. Or
bag him, wrap him in a bag. Or you sack a city - devastate it. 'Deacon
Jones Sacks Unitas Five Times.' The word is so short you can even get
Deacon in front of Jones."
[End excerpt]


On Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 10:51 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      another obit coinage claim
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Can anyone confirm or disconfirm whether David "Deacon" Jones (December 9, 1938 - yesterday), the great Hall of Fame defensive end of the former Los Angeles Rams and other teams back in the 70s (who along with RFK's friend Rosey Grier and the TV-actor-to-be Merlin Olsen was part of the Fearsome Foursome of the Rams, is in fact the originator of "sack" in the sense of tackling a quarterback behind the line of scrimmage (either as noun or verb)?  The OED doesn't help here; the closest relevant sense of "sack" I can find is 'plunder, despoil', which is on the right track but not quite sufficiently specific.
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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