We already knew that Deacon Jones and Jack Youngblood were legends, but now we have greater insight into just how unique and gifted that they may have really been. Such as the possibility that Jones posted not one, but TWO seasons with 22 sacks (during a 14-game schedule), four seasons with at least 19 sacks, and that he may have led the NFL in that category on FIVE different occasions between 1964 and 1969.
Or the chance that Youngblood, the virtual heir apparent to Jones in the seventies, twice led the league in sacks, including 18 in the 1979 season.
This information comes courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference, which as of Monday morning has updated all of their pre-1982 sack totals, something that was otherwise unavailable until now! Here is what PFR said about the update on Monday:
The NFL has only officially counted player sacks since 1982, which means sack records and leaderboards present an incomplete history of pass rushing. In many cases we accept these holes in the official record and move on. After all, we don’t know how many rushing yards Jim Thorpe had, passing yards Paddy Driscoll had or even how many blocked shots Wilt Chamberlain had. Heck, we don’t even “officially” know how many tackles anyone had in 2020 (or any other season).
However, thanks to Official Gamebooks, ‘unofficial’ tackle totals get published in many places (including here). In the case of sacks, thanks to decades of research by John Turney and Nick Webster, we have a very thorough accounting of the statistic all the way back to 1960. Given that accounting for these ‘unofficial’ statistics allows us to paint a richer picture of the history of the game, we think it is a no-brainer to present them on Pro Football Reference, allowing fans to gain a deeper appreciation of some of football’s biggest stars in the 1960s and 1970s. This isn’t terribly different from presenting RBI totals for baseball players from before 1920 (the first season the statistic was “official”).
These additions allow us to print year-by-year and career sacks totals for not just legends such as Deacon Jones (173.5), Jack Youngblood (151.5), Alan Page (148.5), Carl Eller (133.5) and Joe Greene (77.5), but also for less recognized stars like Coy Bacon (130.5), Cedrick Hardman (122.5) and Jack Gregory (106.0) whose greatness and impact can now be more readily quantified.
With these updates, Deacon Jones is now third all-time in sacks behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White, while Jack Youngblood is sixth, behind Kevin Greene (who joined the Rams the year after Youngblood left) and Julius Peppers. That means that between 1961 and 1992, the Rams employed at least one legendary Hall of Fame pass rusher, switching between Jones, Youngblood, and then Greene. All three would now be in the top-six all-time in sacks.
Here is the updated page for Deacon Jones:
And Jack Youngblood: