PFR Adds Sack Data Back to 1960
Officially, the NFL has recorded sack data for defensive players since 1982. Unofficially, of course, defenders have been putting quarterbacks on the ground for a lot longer than that. With the help of John Turney and Nick Webster of the Pro Football Research Association, Pro Football Reference today added more than two decades of sack data, going back to 1960. Some highlights they have found:
- Bruce Smith and Reggie White still rank one-two in career sacks, but former Rams star Deacon Jones moves into third place. Jones led the league in sacks five times in six seasons in the late 1960s; the other year, he was third.
- Jones, obviously, is the leader in pre-1981 sacks with 173.5. He is followed in the top five by Alan Page, Carl Eller, Coy Bacon, and Jim Marshall. Page, Eller, and Marshall played together in Minnesota's Purple People Eaters, one of the great defensive lines (and nicknames) in NFL history. Bacon made three Pro Bowls over stints with the Rams, Chargers, Bengals, and Washington; he led the NFL with 21.5 sacks (in 14 games!) in 1976.
- Al Baker was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1978 with the Detroit Lions, and now it's easy to explain why: he had 23.0 sacks that season, "passing" Michael Strahan's 22.5 sacks in 2001 for the "new" single-season record.