Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers players pay tribute to Deacon Jones
More than five years have gone by since Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donald Penn crossed paths with Deacon Jones, but he’ll never forget that initial meeting.
Jones, a Hall of Fame defensive end considered one of the premier pass rushers in NFL history, died Monday at the age of 74.
Midway through the 2007 season, former Bucs coach Jon Gruden called on Jones to deliver a “fire and brimstone’’ speech to Tampa Bay players on the night before a home game against Arizona and standout quarterback Kurt Warner.
The Bucs hounded Warner throughout a 17-10 victory.
“I remember when Gruden had the great Deacon Jones come talk to the team,’’ Penn wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday. “He was such an inspiration, I wanted to go play right after he got done.’’
Also on Twitter, new Bucs CB Darrelle Revis wrote: “Got a lot of respect for Deacon Jones, the sackmaster.’’
Former Bucs DT Warren Sapp, who will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, praised Jones as a dynamic innovator.
“Deacon Jones, for me, is an absolute institution,’’ Sapp said on NFL Network. “He signified what it was to be a great warrior on the defensive line. I kind of patterned my game after him because if you can talk that talk and walk that walk, then you can stand beside Deacon. He was the best.’’
Third-year DE Da’Quan Bowers also paid tribute to Jones, the leader of the “Fearsome Foursome’’ of the Los Angeles Rams in the late 1960s.
“I never had the opportunity to meet him,’’ Bowers said. “It would have been an honor. He’s the reason we do what we do. Here was a guy who invented the sack. About the time he invented the word ‘sack’ he had about 160. That says enough. Guys like that come around once in a lifetime.’’
Hot Wheels: Kids are driving Pinellas County's car-theft epidemic. It's a dangerous, sometimes deadly, game.