HOF Profile: Michael Strahan

michael_strahanDefensive statistics have come a long way since the beginnings of the NFL but they are still a strange part of the game. Offensive statistics are easily seen and can be added up by almost anyone watching as they are as simple as the amount of yards run or thrown and the variations. Defensive statistics are a little different as they are, more often than not, subjective. A tackle is clear when it is one on one but more often it is a number of players who get in on one tackle. That gives assists to players who are in on the tackle although they may not have had all that much to do with the actual defensive play. Even a stat as simple as tackles rarely recorded in the early years of the NFL with defensive statistics essentially non-existent in the 1960s and 70s. Only recently have these stats been seen more often and for that many of the records held have taken shape more recently. That can put some of them in question as players in the past never were able to put up stats their entire career. One of the most contentious records in the NFL is the single season sack record currently held by Michael Strahan. In 2001 Strahan earned his 22.5 sack of the year breaking the NFL record held by Mark Gastineau. That record is still standing today, despite a push by Jared Allen in 2011, but some believe it may not be the true record. The main challenge comes from the man who invented the term sack, Deacon Jones who unofficially had a season with 26 sacks and 24 sacks. These seasons never had sacks tallied and therefore Jones does not get the credit in the record books. Still some consider him to be the true sacks leader and Strahan as another great defensive lineman who is near the top of the single season sack list. Despite the debate over the record the fact is that Strahan had a season that has rarely been matched in the NFL. That season only added to the great career of Strahan and thanks to his great ability to get to the quarterback, Strahan is the record holder and now will enter the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest sack specialists of all time.

Strahan was rarely seen as a player that struggled in his sport of choice as he began dominating from the start. Entering college Strahan followed a family tradition attending Texas Southern University and began breaking records. His junior season Strahan began turning heads in the NFL as a prospect that could have a major impact in the NFL earning 14.5 sacks. His senior season saw him step it up even more earning a school record 19 sacks and being named to multiple All-American teams including the AP Division-I AA All-American team. Although he finished with a school record 41.5 sacks the fact that he was in a different level of talent hurt his draft stock. He was drafted in the second round by the New York Giants but proved to be much better than his second round rank. His first year did not start great as an injury limited him but after that first year he went to work. His second year was his first as a starter and he began going to work earning 4.5 sacks and then leading the team with 7.5 in his third year. It became habit as Strahan began solidifying himself as one of the best pass rushers in the game. Teams began to prepare for Strahan but it was no use as he continued to get stronger as the years went on. In 2001 he had his greatest season ever breaking the single season sack record with 22.5 sacks. That season was his best but his consistency makes him the #5 sack career sack leader with 141.5 sacks and that alone makes him a hall of fame candidate. Add the sacks to his Defensive Player of the Year Awards and a Super Bowl XLII victory and it is a wonder why he had to wait even a year to make it into the Hall of Fame.


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