Stat review gives ex-Detroit Lion Bubba Baker NFL sack record over Strahan

NFL started logging sacks in 1982

Portrait of Al "Bubba" Baker, defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions.
Portrait of Al "Bubba" Baker, defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions. (Getty Images)

DETROIT – A review of unofficial statistical NFL records estimates that the all-time NFL single-season sack leader is not Michael Strahan -- it’s actually former Lions Pro Bowler Al “Bubba” Baker.

Pro Football Reference says that the NFL has only logged player sacks in 1982. But, thanks to a lot of digging, stats now go back to 1960, painting a new picture of the famous sack record.

“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.”

The revised stats show that Bubba Baker recorded 23.0 sacks in his rookie year with the Lions in 1978, slightly more than Michael Strahan recorded with the New York Giants in 2001, when he recorded 22.5 sacks. Baker won Defensive Rookie of the Year that season with Detroit.

Baker racked up 74 sacks in four seasons with Detroit from 1978 to 1982, as an anchor of the “Silver Rush” Lions defense. Alex Karras is the all-time franchise leader in sacks, with 100 total sacks, followed by Robert Porcher.

Baker talked about the news on the “Around The NFL” podcast this week: “For some reason, and I’m not kidding you, without any prompting, tears just started running down my eyes. And my wife was inside, I opened up the patio doors. And my wife, first thing she said was, ‘What’s wrong?’ And I said, nothing’s wrong and I said come look at this. And, you know, we hugged and then I lost about an hour and a half, two hours. My daughter called. It was really emotional for my family. I guess at 6-foot-8, 290 pounds, that doesn’t sound really tough, but, we were all crying.”

Baker retired as a player in 1990 as a player with the Cleveland Browns.


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About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.