Deacon Jones: Commissioner Rozelle. Mr. Schreiber, Mayor Cmich, fellow Enshrinees and Hall of Fame Presenter. Violence in its many forms is an involuntary quest for identity. When our identity is endangered we feel certain we have a mandate for war. In 1957 David Jones, a tough, unwavering outspoken student from the black South Carolina State College declared his own private war against the racial injustices that were prevalent at the time, the inadequacies facing him in education and in business and lodged his own campaign of aggression’s against a group of society that would spark his persistence and determination to reinforce his identity for many years to come. This quest for identity had its roots in Eatonville, Florida when at the age of 15 there were no neighborhood boys clubs, there were no local YMCA’s, there were no Pop Warner little leagues and direct and channel that energy of eager youth and healthy aspiration. Thus, the tribe and trial began with David forced the circumstances of his surroundings to formulate his own game plan, devise his own strategy, never losing sight of that vision of success. The self-determination would lead him to develop the nickname Deacon, to institute the head slap for which would eventually be at a loss and the creation of the team sacking the quarterback. It is with great pride that I reminisce with you today about that young tenacious student that remained true to his vision and is with great pleasure that I stand before you to receive the supreme recognition of the professional football world that honors.
There is a lady in the audience today who is and has been my second best rooter and support, although she knows little about the actual game of football and despises violence in any form, she is very proud of my success and because of her prayers and thoughtfulness and her admiration physically got me through it all, my mother, Mattie Jones. And to the lady who packaged the entire deal who sat with me through the bad and the good, whose admiration and devotion and encouragement has remained steadfast, who shares my determination and who is still hanging in there, my devoted wife, Iretha.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my college coach, Dr. Roy D. Moore who taught me the basic will to win. My college teammates, some in the audience today, they deserve a great deal of credit for their help and support. It has been said that the man who produces an idea in any field of endeavor, the man who discovers new knowledge is the permanent benefactor of humanity. The man who discovers my knowledge and ability who challenges it and .finds it and without whose guidance I would not be here today is George Allen, thank you very much coach. And through the team efforts, a velocity that still permeates all aspects of my life today, a personal thanks to each and every one of the fine athletes who played with me for 11 years of the Los Angeles Rams, two years with the San Diego Chargers and one year with the Washington Redskins with whom I share those five points that make a champion, which are team work, hard work, pride, determination and competitive spirit and who shares with me as all champions do the feeling of excitement in solving problems, the delight of taking on a new challenge and the eagerness to meet another bard challenge and the eagerness to meet another hard attempt. The Secretary of Defense would like to leave you with one last thought, every man is free to rise as far as he is able or willing, but it is only the degree to which he will rise. Thank you very much. –