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2021-07-12T22:35:33Z
Quote:

Packers’ career sacks leaderboard changes after Pro Football Reference’s research
The title now unofficially belongs to Willie Davis, who takes over from Clay Matthews.

By Evan "Tex" Western@TexWestern Jul 12, 2021, 3:10pm CDT packers-career-sacks-leaderboard-changes-after-pro-football-references-research

1982 is the magic year for pass-rushing records in the NFL. That season, the league began counting sacks as an official statistic, helping give pass-rushers an easy metric with which people could judge how effective a player is and was at bringing down the quarterback.

The modern value of sacks may be debated, and Green Bay Packers outside linebackers coach Mike Smith would surely be happy to have a spirited discussion about the value of pressures vs. sacks at any time. But sacks remain the single easiest number by which to judge a pass-rusher’s production. As long as they played after 1982, at least.

But on Monday, Pro Football Reference published the results of painstaking research by a pair of football researchers into game film in an attempt to quantify sacks farther back into NFL history. These two individuals reviewed a multitude of official records to try to recreate and account for sacks dating back to the 1960 season. Click here for a thorough discussion on this research, which has shaken up many of the career and single-season sack leaderboards, both across the NFL as a whole and for teams with a storied history like the Packers.

In fact, the biggest result of this research as far as Green Bay is concerned is a change atop the unofficial career leaderboard. No longer can Clay Matthews reliably claim to be the Packers’ top sacker in franchise history, as that title now belongs to a Pro Football Hall of Famer who played several decades earlier.

Here is a look at a few of the names who now show up — or who significantly moved up — on the Packers’ leaderboard now that this data has been incorporated.

New #1: Willie Davis
Davis, a deserving Hall of Famer and member of the Hall’s All-1960s Team, takes over the Packers’ top spot in career sacks based on this research. Davis is credited with a total of 93.5 sacks from 1960 through 1969, reaching that number thanks to an impressive string of All-Pro seasons in the middle part of the decade.

Davis ripped off four straight double-digit sack seasons from 1964 to 1967, topping out at 14.5 in 1964. That also comes after a 13-sack season in 1962; he also earned first-team All-Pro honors for each of those five campaigns, four of which ended with the Packers winning the NFL Championship.

Ezra Johnson
Much of 1977 first-round draft pick Ezra Johnson’s career did have sacks counted after they became an official statistic in 1982, but his first five seasons in a Green Bay Packer did not get the credit that they deserved. In particular, Johnson’s 1978 season — which saw him earn his only trip to the Pro Bowl — goes down as the second-highest single-season sack total in franchise history with 17.5. That falls behind only Tim Harris’ 19.5 number from 1989.

Previously, Johnson was credited with only 41.5 sacks as a Packer and 55.5 overall for his career. Those numbers balloon up to 82 and 96 with his first five seasons counted, and his Packers totals put him in third place behind Davis and Clay Matthews (83.5).

Lionel Aldridge
The “other” defensive end on Vince Lombardi’s dominant mid-1960s teams was Aldridge, who played for the Packers from 1963 to 1971. Although Aldridge never made a Pro Bowl, he paired up with Davis to make for a fearsome tandem, as the two each posted double-digit sacks in 1965 and 1966 (10 and 12.5 for Aldridge in those two respective years).

His newly-recognized total of 62 sacks puts him in sixth place in Packers lore, following Kabeer Gbaja Biamila (74.5) and Reggie White (68.5) in 4th and 5th places.

Henry Jordan
Yes, the Lombardi Packers have a third defensive lineman on the franchise’s top ten list, with defensive tackle Henry Jordan getting in on the act. Like Davis, Jordan is a Hall of Famer, and PFREF credits him with 52 sacks during his Packers career from 1960 to 1969. He may even climb the rankings a bit more if there were any missed sacks from the 1960 season, as he was an All-Pro that year but currently shows no sacks.

Jordan’s five straight All-Pro nods speaks to the consistency of his play, as he earned those honors every year from 1960 to 1964. It’s nice to see at least one statistical measure that demonstrates how great he was on the interior of the line for over a decade.

How fitting that the lead is now in the hands of a complete player, a class act, and a success after is time in uniform.
In Luce tua Videmus Lucem KRK
Zero2Cool
2021-07-12T22:55:30Z
Rewriting history. Not good.
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earthquake
2021-07-12T23:35:39Z
Originally Posted by: Zero2Cool 

Rewriting history. Not good.



Personally, I see this more as accurately depicting history, as the date they started keeping track of "sacks" keeps many of the historically great players out of the record books/stats. It's not like a sack wasn't possible before 1982 or resulted from a change in the rules or something like that. Players had been racking up sacks since the beginning of the game - quite literally, making history - it's just that nobody was logging it at the time.

Now, I don't know how sound the method for counting stats pre-1982 is, and if they can accurately count sacks retroactively for every player that ever played (probably a tall order). But even still, it's an interesting reference point, and I think it's great that past players are getting recognition for their accomplishments. Heck, I just learned about 3 Packers players that I had never heard of, and likely would not have heard of had this research not been done.

In any case, history is not a static thing, historical records are frequently updated when new information is discovered, old records analyzed, etc.
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beast
2021-07-13T00:02:45Z
Yeah, this isn't rewriting history... this is just adding history of before 1982.

A lot happened before 1982... I'm sure some of us were born before 1982! Them telling a story that happened before 1982 is actually history, assuming they get the facts correct.

Also, I believe I read somewhere that these are still being counted as unofficial stats, and that the official sacks only count of after 1982. But still it's nice to know...

Also, you hear about Vince Lombardi's offensive line all the time you don't usually hear about their defensive line but it sounds like they were quite dominant, especially in sacks in an era that had less passing.
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Cheesey
2021-07-13T02:45:19Z
Originally Posted by: Zero2Cool 

Rewriting history. Not good.



Giving guys that played earlier the credit they deserve isn’t rewriting history.
Until the Titanic was found in 2 parts on the bottom of the ocean, it was believed that it went down in one piece. A few of the survivors said it snapped in half before it went down. But they were told they were wrong....but now we know they were right. Is updating the truth when facts are found rewriting history?
To me it’s just giving guys their due. How is that wrong? Or hurting current players?
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Zero2Cool
2021-07-13T11:50:19Z
Are they going to do the same for people like Deacon Jones?

Originally Posted by: Cheesey 

Giving guys that played earlier the credit they deserve isn’t rewriting history.
Until the Titanic was found in 2 parts on the bottom of the ocean, it was believed that it went down in one piece. A few of the survivors said it snapped in half before it went down. But they were told they were wrong....but now we know they were right. Is updating the truth when facts are found rewriting history?
To me it’s just giving guys their due. How is that wrong? Or hurting current players?



If holding a franchise record meant a lot to you only to have it taken away post-retirement by player(s) who played generations before you, initially, yeah, that would sting. In the end, I would be glad the franchise history books were more reflective of actual events.
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beast
2021-07-13T12:11:48Z
Originally Posted by: Zero2Cool 

In the end, I would be glad the franchise history books were more reflective of actual events.



Just trying to clarify what you mean by this statement.

Are you saying your happy the history books added the sacks before 1982? (Which seems to go against everything else you're saying)

Or are you suggesting that sacks before 1982 were not actually events that happened?

Or is something else meant by that comment?
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Zero2Cool
2021-07-13T12:38:37Z
Originally Posted by: beast 

Just trying to clarify what you mean by this statement.

Are you saying your happy the history books added the sacks before 1982? (Which seems to go against everything else you're saying)

Or are you suggesting that sacks before 1982 were not actually events that happened?

Or is something else meant by that comment?



I think it's a bit hyperbolic to say "everything else you're saying" when I said maybe ~10 words in the previous post.

I'm absolutely down with history books being accurate. Unlike Alan's Titanic reference (was not applicable here at all lol), we could have done this at any point. Why was it done now? Why not ten, twenty years ago? Why sacks? What else are we considering on -- I'll say updating since rewriting put some of you in a tissy -- updating? When are we going to say the records are the records? Are the records in a constant state of flux? This isn't like the Titanic where people are wanting to know, but couldn't find the sunk ship. We have everything we need right now and we only lose more data/information each day. So, when does it end? When are records solidified? When is there no changing it? When can we look a record and confidently know -- that's it.

The defender tackling the QB is something that can easily be counted while watching tape. The trouble is not every game was filmed, nor has accurate written records. So, there will not be an absolute count like we can have post-1982. Are we okay with that? Am I? I don't see me losing sleep over it. It's a bummer that Clay and KGB got the feeling of being franchise leader and Willie Davis didn't. That part I don't care for. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad for his family, but I just think there might need to be a statue of limitations on record updating.

I believe Deacon Jones would probably have a different spot in history if all of his sacks were accrued. It was him who coined the term "sack".
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beast
2021-07-13T12:55:07Z
Why now? Because it wasn't done before!

Are the records in constant flux? Everything in life is in constant flux... but yes someone could break a record this coming season!

And more evidence or proof of something could come up... just like now they believe a certain type of dinosaur did survive after all, and we call that type of animals a bird. Are understanding and knowledge or lack there of is always changing


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Zero2Cool
2021-07-13T13:07:35Z
Originally Posted by: beast 

Why now? Because it wasn't done before!

Are the records in constant flux? Everything in life is in constant flux... but yes someone could break a record this coming season!

And more evidence or proof of something could come up... just like now they believe a certain type of dinosaur did survive after all, and we call that type of animals a bird. Are understanding and knowledge or lack there of is always changing



You do realize how your comparison makes no sense whatsoever to this, right?

I just don't understand how people can be so cavalier about records changing -- have you never held the record something before? Do we not care or value such things anymore? Has the rampant clickbait headlines of needing to be entertained by "what's new" somehow diminished the value of history? It's not like something new was discovered. We have had the film since day one. Why now? Saying because it wasn't done before is an acknowledgement you have nothing to add. I question why now because, when does it stop? This isn't geology, this isn't about a ship at the bottom of the sea, this isn't Paleontology, this is simple statistics where we have accrued all of the information already and it's just sitting around. So, why does Clay Matthews III now get bumped from franchise leader in sacks? Who is next? Can any record holder feel accomplished with their place in the statistical history books? Hell, do we care? Maybe we're a people now that don't give two shits about the past and are perfectly fine with nothing being concrete?

I love history. I've watched more history documentaries and read more history books than history professors. I love DISCOVERING new history elements. This is not such a thing. This is not a new discovery. This is people (for some reason) choosing now to go back and tabulate sacks and update record books.

Again, I am very happy for Willie Davis, I wish he would have been alive for it. I just feel that with something simple like statistics that we have all of the information already, just get it done, get it as right as possible and don't try juxtaposing the numbers in the future. Let be what is done, let it be done. That's all.

But hey, all the damn records are going to be slaughtered in a year or two anyway with the NFL adding more games so the whole thing is moot. haha.
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earthquake
2021-07-13T14:28:20Z
From my understanding the reason this hasn't been done is two-fold:
1. It's a big research task that nobody has undertaken, until now
2. It's likely impossible to accurately gather stats from the entirety of league history

As to #1, it's surprising that no one at the NFL could find time for this, especially if a couple guys on the internet can, but I think the internet and specifically ease of access to information makes this a much more approachable task than it would have been in the past. But yeah, this is the part that fits with Cheesey and Beast's points about updating historical records when new information is discovered. The events happened, they weren't officially added to the record books at the time, but the raw data has been sitting there in one form or another waiting for someone to do the work.

For #2, this is probably still true and the main reason why these stats currently are and will likely remain unofficial. That said, it will be interesting to see just how deep they can go with the research here. There is game film, game logs, local newspaper articles that are archived and available to the public, etc. I'm willing to bet the data could be dug up in, if not 100% complete and accurate, a relatively comprehensive way.

One thing that is important to mention here is that no record books have been officially updated, Clay Mathews is still, officially, the leading sacker for the Green Bay Packers. This won't change unless/until the NFL adopts this research or undertakes a similar project, and I'm not sure what the likelihood of that is, but I assume it is low.

To Kevin's point re: why don't they update more stats. I think it would be great if someone had the time and ambition to do this. Targets, drops, that sort of thing would be interesting to see. I'm not sure when those started being tallied (and I'm not sure either is currently an official NFL stat). Going further I would love to see some sort of stats for players like offensive lineman, block win rate, for both runs and passes? This is probably hard to tally without knowing the playcall/responsibilities, but some sites such as PFF have done good work in this field.
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Zero2Cool
2021-07-13T15:04:55Z
Originally Posted by: earthquake 

From my understanding the reason this hasn't been done is two-fold:
1. It's a big research task that nobody has undertaken, until now
2. It's likely impossible to accurately gather stats from the entirety of league history

As to #1, it's surprising that no one at the NFL could find time for this, especially if a couple guys on the internet can, but I think the internet and specifically ease of access to information makes this a much more approachable task than it would have been in the past. But yeah, this is the part that fits with Cheesey and Beast's points about updating historical records when new information is discovered. The events happened, they weren't officially added to the record books at the time, but the raw data has been sitting there in one form or another waiting for someone to do the work.

For #2, this is probably still true and the main reason why these stats currently are and will likely remain unofficial. That said, it will be interesting to see just how deep they can go with the research here. There is game film, game logs, local newspaper articles that are archived and available to the public, etc. I'm willing to bet the data could be dug up in, if not 100% complete and accurate, a relatively comprehensive way.

One thing that is important to mention here is that no record books have been officially updated, Clay Mathews is still, officially, the leading sacker for the Green Bay Packers. This won't change unless/until the NFL adopts this research or undertakes a similar project, and I'm not sure what the likelihood of that is, but I assume it is low.

To Kevin's point re: why don't they update more stats. I think it would be great if someone had the time and ambition to do this. Targets, drops, that sort of thing would be interesting to see. I'm not sure when those started being tallied (and I'm not sure either is currently an official NFL stat). Going further I would love to see some sort of stats for players like offensive lineman, block win rate, for both runs and passes? This is probably hard to tally without knowing the playcall/responsibilities, but some sites such as PFF have done good work in this field.



Well said, thanks. I know I'm walking a line here that might be blurred. I'm about to blur it more. I want the records to be accurate as possible, so if that means an ambitious two or three year analysis of all of the NFL data and film to update the records, then do it. BUT, the caveat is once they conclude the research, a record is a record and that's it. As a record holder, I would like to only be concerned about someone new breaking my record, not someone who played before I was born to "break" my record, ya know? lol I know I'm doing very poorly and explaining my point. Sorry to anyone I'm confusing.
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Zero2Cool
2021-07-13T15:09:42Z
Found this about Deacon Jones.

Meanwhile, on the new, unofficial all-time NFL leaderboard, Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198) still reign supreme. The fresh faces in the top-10 list are Deacon Jones, who zoomed past Kevin Greene and into third place with 173.5 sacks from 1961 through 1974, Jack Youngblood, with 151.5 sacks from 1971 through 1984, and Alan Page, with 148.5 sacks from 1967 through 1981.


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Cheesey
2021-07-13T15:23:29Z
I used the Titanic as an example to show that what was once accepted as “fact”, can change when new evidence is discovered. Just as new evidence was discovered about the amount of sacks.
Maybe they deserve a seperate records book.
After all, there were different rules then. Like the fact that offensive linemen couldn’t grab a defender like they can now. They couldn’t use their hands at all, thus making it a lot easier for a defender to get to the QB.
The use of TV must make it easier to tabulate sacks too. What about before 1960? There’s no way to accurately count sacks, or other stats.
Like I said, maybe they should have a book of stats related to pre 1982. The rules and amount of games played per season were different then.
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Zero2Cool
2021-07-14T13:30:12Z
Willie Davis would have surely felt similar emotions learning he's the unofficial sack leader of the Green Bay Packers.
Al 'Bubba' Baker on becoming unofficial single-season sack king: 'Tears just started running down my eyes' 
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Zero2Cool
2021-07-16T18:55:41Z
Michael David Smith @MichaelDavSmith Despite the excellent research that @pfref has collected on pre-1982 sacks, I'm told that the NFL does not anticipate making those records official.


Sounds like the NFL doesn't care about accuracy.
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