Sacks Away!

If you are not a fan of the National Football League (NFL), then I suggest you skip this part of today’s post.

The NFL has only “officially” counted individual quarterback sacks since 1982. A sack is when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Actually, I think if he’s tackled at the line of scrimmage in an obvious passing attempt that also counts.

John Turney and Nick Webster of the Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA)–yes, such an organization exists–have been compiling individual sack figures as far back as 1960, based upon review of official play-by-plays, watching game film, photographs and coaches’ stats. Pro Football Reference has recently added this information to their database.

Here is the new, albeit “unofficial” leaderboard in career sacks:


Rank Player Sk Years Tm
1 Bruce Smith+ 200.0 1985-2003 2TM
2 Reggie White+ 198.0 1985-2000 3TM
3 Deacon Jones+ 173.5 1961-1974 3TM
4 Kevin Greene+ 160.0 1985-1999 4TM
5 Julius Peppers 159.5 2002-2018 3TM
6 Jack Youngblood+ 151.5 1971-1984 ram
7 Chris Doleman+ 150.5 1985-1999 3TM
8 Alan Page+ 148.5 1967-1981 2TM
9 Lawrence Taylor+ 142.0 1981-1993 nyg
10 Michael Strahan+ 141.5 1993-2007 nyg
11 Jason Taylor+ 139.5 1997-2011 3TM
12 Terrell Suggs 139.0 2003-2019 3TM
13 DeMarcus Ware 138.5 2005-2016 2TM
14 Richard Dent+ 137.5 1983-1997 4TM
John Randle+ 137.5 1990-2003 2TM
16 Jared Allen 136.0 2004-2015 4TM
Rickey Jackson+ 136.0 1981-1995 2TM
18 John Abraham 133.5 2000-2014 3TM
Carl Eller+ 133.5 1964-1979 2TM
20 Leslie O’Neal 132.5 1986-1999 3TM
21 Al Baker 131.0 1978-1990 4TM
22 Coy Bacon 130.5 1968-1981 4TM
Jim Marshall 130.5 1960-1979 2TM
24 Claude Humphrey+ 130.0 1968-1981 2TM
25 Derrick Thomas+ 126.5 1989-1999 kan


It is no surprise that the late, great Deacon Jones has vaulted to #3 all-time. While he never amassed the 27 sacks in a season for which he has unofficially been given credit by some sources, he did have three seasons with 20+ sacks and led the NFL five times in the six years between 1964 and 1969. Remember that Jones only played 14 games a season unlike the 16-game season the NFL played from 1978 to 2020. (Of course, the NFL will play a 17-game season beginning in 2021, no doubt on its way to the eventual expansion to 18 games. More games for TV mean more TV dollars.) From the four-letter TV sports network, a picture of Deacon Jones.


See the source image


It is good to see Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood get recognition. He played in Super Bowl 14 with a fractured left fibula. The accomplishments of Alan Page, the only pure defensive player to ever be named MVP, are also embellished by the addition of this data.

Here is the new and “unofficial” single-season leaderboard:


Rank Player Sk Year Tm
1 Al Baker (21) 23.0 1978 DET
2 Michael Strahan+ (29) 22.5 2001 NYG
3 Jared Allen (29) 22.0 2011 MIN
Mark Gastineau (27) 22.0 1984 NYJ
Justin Houston (25) 22.0 2014 KAN
Deacon Jones+ (25) 22.0 1964 RAM
Deacon Jones+ (29) 22.0 1968 RAM
8 Coy Bacon (34) 21.5 1976 CIN
Deacon Jones+ (28) 21.5 1967 RAM
10 Chris Doleman+ (27) 21.0 1989 MIN
Reggie White+ (25) 21.0 1987 PHI
12 Aaron Donald (27) 20.5 2018 LAR
Jim Katcavage (28) 20.5 1963 NYG
Joe Klecko (27) 20.5 1981 NYJ
Lawrence Taylor+ (27) 20.5 1986 NYG
J.J. Watt (23) 20.5 2012 HOU
J.J. Watt (25) 20.5 2014 HOU
18 Mark Gastineau (24) 20.0 1981 NYJ
Harvey Martin (26) 20.0 1977 DAL
Derrick Thomas+ (23) 20.0 1990 KAN
DeMarcus Ware (26) 20.0 2008 DAL


Michael Strahan’s official “record” is somewhat controversial in that it appeared Brett Favre took himself to the ground with Strahan as the nearest defender in the last game of the 2001 season to give the latter the “record.” Of course, this data lists Al “Bubba” Baker as the all-time single-season sack leader with 23 in his rookie season of 1978.

I may write more about this in the next couple of days.


Statistics tell us that “bad” people must buy lottery tickets and, by extension, “bad” people must sometimes win millions in the lottery. I think whatever reporting has existed on lottery winners is how they are targeted by criminals or go bankrupt not long after their win.

I think these people probably see a lottery win as positive reinforcement for their behavior, which only makes it worse. I grant you that is an opinion unsubstantiated by research.

Do any of you have any thoughts on this topic?


Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, recently remarked, “Let me tell you where we are: the data is very clear, if you’ve gotten your two shots of Moderna or Pfizer or single shot of J&J, you have a very high level of protection against all variants, including delta. I have not seen any evidence, so far, that anybody needs a third shot.”

Conversely, Dr. Kavita Patel, former director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, recently said, “With the threat of the delta variant and potentially other looming variants in the future, it seems like it’s an inevitability that we’re going to need a booster shot.” To be clear, she didn’t say that anyone needs a booster right now.

I think it’s great when qualified people, like physicians, speak about public issues. In my opinion, the somewhat conflicting remarks are simply a manifestation that we are dealing with a pathogen never before seen in widespread numbers among humans.

However, this type of “contradiction” adds to the hesitancy of people on the fence about getting vaccinated, IMO. Obviously, people like Jha and Patel–far more qualified than politicians or entertainers to speak on this topic–are entitled to express their opinions. It does show, though, that science is not always black and white. Sometimes, it’s shadow and shade.

Sorry, no cars today.






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8 thoughts on “Sacks Away!

  1. When Georgia first started a lottery in, I think, 1992, the first draw was for 1 million dollars. Nobody won so it rolled over and was 2 million the next week. An older couple from a suburb of Atlanta won. Every tv, radio and newspaper wanted an interview. I saw one interview where the man said what they planned to do was move to Alabama and buy a double wide, a new car for the wife and a jon boat for him to use fishing. Most everyone thought they were crazy, all that money and that’s all you’re going to do? A year or so later the local paper tracked them down, in Alabama. They had bought a “real” house instead of a double wide, a new car for the wife and he had his little flat bottom boat for fishing. Quite happy and probably had at least 3/4 of the money left. Sounds to me like they were crazy like a fox.


    1. Thanks for sharing, DDM.

      When my home state of Maryland first started a lottery, a similar situation occurred. The jackpot rolled over from one to two million, from two to three and eventually to five before a woman won. She was bankrupt within a year of her win.

      Only about five or six states protect the anonymity of lottery winners. I think all lottery winners should have the right to privacy. As I have written in the blog, I already have a spreadsheet ready to create a random name for a trust should we be so lucky as to win seven or eight or nine figures in the lottery.


  2. I don’t follow football closely enough anymore to recognize many current players, but two players on that first list bring back memories of the Minnesota Vikings in my younger days when I paid more attention than I do now.

    I’m not worried about what I would do if I won the lottery. I no longer play, so my odds of winning aren’t very good. >grin<


  3. I’m not sure how we’re defining ‘bad’, but I’d think all kinds of people buy lottery tickets. After all, lottery balls don’t have morals or know who is deserving of winning.
    I’d guess though that some bad people, at least those who’ve done things bad enough that there are legal consequences, might shy away from being personally involved. Big winners agree to having their name and image publicized. I mean you’d have to be kinda dumb to risk getting caught even for a couple million.


  4. Oh, and the fact the PFRA exists doesn’t surprise me at all. Back when I did some hockey writing, I became aware of SIHR (Society for International Hockey Research). Maybe it is a little surprising these organizations exist. I mean, I love sports but sometimes I wonder how important it is to exhaust real resources trying to determine how players or teams compare across eras. Then again, I once drove an hour and a half one way to purchase a book about a guy who retired from pro hockey before 1930, so there must be interest lol


    1. Many thanks, Mark.

      Yes, of course “lottery balls don’t have morals.” I think, though, that some “bad” people are amoral and and not immoral so they are not aware of consequences and don’t think about the publicity that would come with winning the lottery. In fact, they might enjoy it.

      I think the biggest sports research group is the Society for American Baseball Research, SABR. Bill James coined the word, “Sabermetrics” as a nod to the organization. It is probably no surprise that I was once, briefly, Chairman of SABR’s Statistical Analysis Committee.

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