This has always bugged me: Why didn’t the NFL keep sacks as an official statistic prior to the 1982 season?
You’d think counting the number of times a quarterback is taken to the ground, and by whom, would be the easiest thing to keep track of during a football game. Oh well, the league didn’t, which left us wondering for years just how many sacks some Steelers legends of the past—including Mean Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood—tallied during their storied careers as prime members of the impenetrable Steel Curtain defenses of the 1970s.
Despite linebacker Jason Gildon holding the record for many years with 77, you just knew he wasn’t the real all-time team leader in the department.
That’s why it was nice to learn that Pro Football Reference, thanks to the extensive research done by John Turney and Nick Webster, would start including sack totals prior to the ‘82 campaign, beginning with the 1960 season.
Are these sack totals now official? No, but at least we have a clearer picture of the pass-rushing prowess of Greene (77.5) and Greenwood (78). I think most suspected for years that Greenwood was the unofficial team leader in that category, and now we can say that likely was the case.
So what, right? Harrison officially surpassed that mark during his second stint with the team and is the all-time leader with 80.5. True, but we now get to see just how dominant a player Greenwood was as he did his thing alongside Greene, Dwight White, Ernie Holmes and John Banaszak as a member of that famed defensive line.
Those Steelers defenses of the 1970s were some of the most dominant in the history of the NFL. If you’re the player that led the team in quarterback sacks for such a famous unit, you’re a bad dude. L.C. Greenwood was a bad dude and should be honored for his standout contributions on a standout defense.
In other words, it’s about time Greenwood, who passed away in 2013, gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. No, Greenwood isn’t around to enjoy such an honor, but I’m sure his family would love to see his likeness immortalized in Canton, Ohio.
Above and beyond all of that, however, it’s just common sense. Are there too many Steelers players from the 1970s in the Hall of Fame? No, not if the guy who got the most sacks is left out.
Donnie Shell will finally get his day next month when he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame 34 years after his retirement. But I don’t think he’s the last member of the Steel Curtain who should be so honored.
It’s time Hollywood Bags gets his due.