The NFL has two sets of sack stats – the official one that dates to 1982 and an unofficial one that dates to 1960.
Sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982. But based on the work of John Turney and Nick Webster of the Pro Football Researchers Association that was published last year, “a very thorough accounting” of pass-rushing has emerged that pushes the sack, at least unofficially, back to the 1960 season.
MORE ALABAMA ROOTS NFL TOP 10:
· ALL-PRO SELECTIONS
· ALL PURPOSE YARDS
· FORCED FUMBLES
· KICKOFF-RETURN YARDS
· PASSING YARDS
· PRO BOWL INVITATIONS
· PUNT-RETURN YARDS
· RECEIVING YARDS
· RUSHING YARDS
The 10 players from Alabama high schools and colleges with the most NFL sacks officially would not be quite the same as the 10 using the unofficial tabulations that add 22 seasons to the sack stats.
Former Parker High School star and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Buck Buchanan played his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs before the sack became an official statistic. The research statistics credit Buchanan with 70.5 sacks for the Chiefs from 1962 through 1975.
That total would rank Buchanan ninth on the Alabama list, and Jacksonville State alumnus Jesse Baker would be tied for 10th. Research credits Baker with 32 sacks in his first three seasons before the sack became an official statistic in his fourth of him. Officially, Baker has 35 career sacks.
On either list, the player from an Alabama high school or college with the most NFL sacks is Kevin Greene with 160. Officially, that’s the third-most in NFL history and the most for a player whose primarily position was linebacker. The unofficial totals move Greene to fourth. In addition to trailing Bruce Smith and Reggie White on the official list, the research stats move him behind Deacon Jones, too. Smith, White and Jones played defensive end.
During the 2021 NFL season, the player with Alabama football roots with the most sacks was Washington Football Team defensive tackle Jonathan Allen with nine.
RELATED: ALABAMA ROOTS: THE 100 GREATEST CAREERS OF THE NFL’S 102 SEASONS
The 10 players with Alabama football roots who have recorded the most official sacks in the NFL include:
1.Kevin Greene, Auburn: 160 bags
Los Angeles Rams 1985-1992, Pittsburgh Steelers 1993-1995, San Francisco 49ers 1997, Carolina Panthers 1996, 1997-1998: The outside linebacker’s sack total is the third-highest in NFL history. He led the NFL in sacks in 1994 and 1996, was a two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2. DeMarcus Ware, Auburn High School, Troy: 138.5 bags
Dallas Cowboys 2005-2013, Denver Broncos 2014-2016: The outside linebacker’s sack total is the ninth-highest in NFL history. He led the NFL in sacks in 2008 and 2010 and was a four-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler.
3.Derrick Thomas, Alabama: 126.5 bags
Kansas City Chiefs 1989-1999: The outside linebacker ranks 17th on the NFL’s all-time sack list. He led the NFL in sacks in 1990, holds the NFL record for most sacks in a game with seven, was a two-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
4.Robert Mathis, Alabama A&M: 123 sacks
Indianapolis Colts 2003-2016: The defensive end/outside linebacker led the NFL in sacks in 2013 and ranks 19th in league history. Mathis was an All-Pro eleven and a Pro Bowler five times.
5. Trace Armstrong, John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, 106 sacks
Chicago Bears 1989-1994, Miami Dolphins 1995-2000, Oakland Raiders 2001-2003: A defensive end, Armstrong had the biggest season of his long career at age 35, when he turned in 16.5 sacks and earned his only Pro Bowl spot in 2000. His sack total ranks 28th in league history.
6. Osi Umenyiora, Auburn High School, Troy: 85 sacks
New York Giants 2003-2012, Atlanta Falcons 2013-2014: Umenyiora played defensive end for two Super Bowl winners with the Giants and was an All-Pro eleven and Pro Bowler twice.
7. Tim Harris, Woodlawn High School in Birmingham: 81 sacks
Green Bay Packers 1986-1990, San Francisco 49ers 1991-1992, 1994-1995, Philadelphia Eagles 1993: An All-Pro outside linebacker in 1989, Harris started his prep career at Woodlawn before finishing at Catholic High School in Memphis.
8. Cornelius Bennett, Ensley High School in Birmingham, Alabama: 71.5 sacks
Buffalo Bills 1987-1995, Atlanta Falcons 1996-1998, Indianapolis Colts 1999-2000: The outside linebacker went to five Super Bowls and was an All-Pro eleven and Pro Bowler five times.
9. Mario Addison, Tarrant High School, Troy: 67 sacks
2011 Chicago Bears, 2011-2012 Indianapolis Colts, 2012 Washington Redskins, 2012-2019 Carolina Panthers, 2020-21 Buffalo Bills: The defensive end reached a career high with 11 sacks in 2017, and from 2016 through 2019, he had at least nine sacks in each season.
10. Justin Tuck, Central High School in Rockford: 66.5 sacks
New York Giants 2005-2013, Oakland Raiders 2014-2015: The defensive end was an All-Pro eleven, a Pro Bowler twice and a teammate of Osi Umenyiora on two New York Giants teams that won Super Bowls. Tuck’s official sack total doesn’t include four sacks made in those two Super Bowl victories.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.