The legacy of the late Deacon Jones was honored last week during a sentimental “Hometown Hall of Famers™” ceremony at Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla. On Wednesday, September 25th, the students and staff of Edgewater High School joined with representatives from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company as they gathered to pay tribute to one of the greatest defensive ends to ever play in the NFL.
Edgewater High School Principal Michele Erickson served as the Master of Ceremonies for this special event, telling the students how proud they should feel to be receiving this plaque here at their school. All eyes were then glued to the screen as a video was played recapping some of Jones’s career highlights, helping to bring the dynamic player to life.
Allstate representative Stan Pringle told the students about how he remembered playing football on the playground in his younger years pretending to be Deacon Jones and only wanting to wear number75. “To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to cities like Orlando is an honor for Allstate and our employees and agents across the country,” he said.
Brock Richards, from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was also on-hand to share with guests the significance of the day’s honor. “Today, Edgewater High School becomes the 78th school to be an official extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” he explained to the students. Richards unveiled the plaque with Jones’ wife Elizabeth, who had come to Orlando to accept the award on her late husband’s behalf.
Elizabeth’s motivational speech was a highlight of the event, as she took the audience through Jones’ compelling life story, including his struggles with segregation, financial constraints, lack of support and then ultimately his successes on the football field. “He would have been so proud to be here today, and I know he would have loved talking to you all,” she said. “I hope that my husband’s story and this plaque can help you to realize that you really can do anything you want in life if you work hard and never give up.”
After high school, Jones went on to play football at South Carolina State and Mississippi Vocational.
Jones was a 14th-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1961 NFL Draft. Gifted with speed, agility, and quickness, “Deacon” became one of the finest pass rushers in the history of the NFL and specialized in quarterback sacks, a term he coined. Jones, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, was a unanimous All-NFL selection six straight years from 1965-1970. An integral member of the Rams’ famous “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line, Jones was chosen the NFL’s top defensive player in 1967 and 1968. Extremely durable and dedicated, he missed just five games of a possible 196 regular-season encounters in 14 NFL campaigns.
Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980. He passed away in June 2013 at the age of 74.
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