another obit coinage claim

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 5 07:46:01 UTC 2013

Thanks Ben. Great cites. Here is "sacked" in 1967.

Date: December 18, 1967
Newspaper: The Independent
Article title: Rams Stopped Unitas - And Won
Author: Joe Hendrickson
Quote Page: 16
Column: 1
Newspaper Location: Pasadena, California
Database: NewspaperArchive

[Begin excerpt]
The great Baltimore quarterback seldom has been "sacked" like this
before-48 yards in losses when thrown behind the line of scrimmage at
seven crucial times by the charging men of George Allen.
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 2:10 AM, Ben Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: another obit coinage claim
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 1:12 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
>> On Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 10:51 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>> 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.
>> 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.
> OED2 dates the relevant verb sense of "sack" to 1969 and the noun sense to 1972.
> (Larry must have missed these.) Though "sack" has yet to be revised for OED3,
> "quarterback" has a revised entry, and it includes a 1968 cite for "quarterback
> sack" that I submitted several years ago:
> ---
> 1968 Los Angeles Times 9 Oct. iii. 8/7   The Rams still pace the NFL in total
> yardage allowed, 221.8 yards per game, and quarterback ‘sacks’, 46.
> ---
> From that same month, here's a cite quoting Deacon Jones using the noun "sack"
> (comparing himself to Colts defensive end Bubba Smith):
> ---
> 1968 Los Angeles Times 24 Oct. iii. 1/5 "I've been in the league eight years;
> he's been in it only six weeks (Bubba was switched from tackle to end at the
> start of the season). I believe I have more sacks (tackling the quarterback)
> and more unassisted tackles than he does.
> ---
> And just a bit earlier for the verb, without reference to Jones or the Rams:
> ---
> 1968 Chicago Defender 22 June 16/6 Five times, he [Bears defensive back Bennie
> McRae] "sacked" the enemy quarterback, when he moved into the linebacker spot
> on the Dooley shift, and he also had 43 tackles and ten assists.
> ---
> 1968 Chicago Defender 19 Aug. 25/5 He [Bears defensive tackle Frank Cornish] was
> credited with 52 tackles, 42 assists, sacked the quarterback 20 times and
> intercepted two passes.
> ---
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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