The expansion of sack statistics before the statistic became official in 1982 allowed former Detroit Lions star Al “Bubba” Baker’s successful 1978 season to get the credit it deserves.
While pre-1982 sack counts remain unofficial for league history purposes, Baker’s 23.0 sacks in his rookie season at Detroit would be the largest in a single season in Washington history. the league. Michael Strahan’s 22.5 bags in the 2001 season are the official benchmark for most bags in a single season.
Baker, on the Around the NFL podcast, said hearing that his 23 sacks were widely recognized by Pro-Football-Reference and other statisticians made him rather emotional.
“For some reason, and I’m not kidding, without any prompting, tears started to flow from my eyes,” Baker said. “And my wife was inside, I opened the patio doors. And my wife, the first thing she said was, “What’s wrong? And I said, it’s okay and I said come and see this. And, you know, we kissed and then I wasted about an hour and a half, two hours. My daughter called. It was really moving for my family. I guess at 6ft 8in, 290lb, it doesn’t sound really hard, but we were all crying.
Through research that has included game logs, game books, game footage, and other sources, Pro-Football-Reference estimates that 99% of the bags from the AFL-NFL merger from 1970 through the 1981 season were also tallied. such as about 95 percent of sacks in the AFL and NFL from 1966 to 1969, and about 80 percent of sacks from 1961 to 1965. Pre-1960 sack statistics are more difficult to compile reliably.
This allowed the performances of Baker, Deacon Jones, Jack Youngblood and other notable passing runners to reliably quantify their success on the pitch.
Baker was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1978 following his standout campaign. He has been selected three times to the Pro Bowl and made the All-Pro team his rookie year. Baker finished his career with 131 sacks in 13 seasons with the Lions, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings. The 131 sacks would place him 21st all-time.