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Lem Barney: I’m sure Deacon Jones’s death is due to head injuries

Indianapolis Colts vs Detroit Lions - November 25, 2004

Detroit Lions great Lem Barney poses with a football before play against the Indianapolis Colts in a Thanksgiving Day game, November 25, 2005 in Detroit. The Colts defeated the Lions 41 to 9. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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Hall of Fame cornerback Lem Barney has been a vocal critic of the NFL over its treatment of players who suffered head injuries, suing the league and saying he wishes he had never played the sport that brought him fame and fortune. And now Barney is blaming head injuries for the death of one of his fellow Hall of Famers.

Although no cause of death has been released for Deacon Jones, who died on Monday at the age of 74, Barney told USA Today that head injuries must be the culprit.

“It’s a shame that he’s gone,” Barney said. “I’m sure it’s due to the head injuries.”

Barney said he could tell from talking to Jones that he had suffered brain damage on the field.

“I know he didn’t complain about it,” Barney said. “But you could see that he was slower in speech when you saw him or had phone conversations. He was still the Deacon, but you could see some things being lost.”

The game of football leaves many players battered later in life, and Jones may have had health problems related to playing the game. But it would be wise to wait for some medical evidence before anyone claims to be “sure” about what caused Jones’s death.