A Quarterback’s Nightmare: the NFL’s All-Time Sack Leaders

Is there anything more satisfying as a football fan than watching someone on your team drive the opposing quarterback into the ground? Getting to the quarterback can completely swing the momentum of a drive and even the game as a whole, so having a Pro Bowl-caliber sack-man on your defensive unit is truly invaluable.
Anyone can get to the quarterback once or twice, but the greats are the men that repeatedly best their opposition and continually remind the quarterback that he’s never really safe as long as they’re nearby.

5 Michael Strahan

141.5 Sacks, 216 GP

After setting the single-season mark for quarterback sacks at Texas Southern University, Michael Strahan was drafted in the second round by the New York Giants, the team with which he would spend his entire 15-year career. In his time with Big Blue, Strahan led the league in sacks twice, going to seven Pro Bowls and winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2001. He enjoyed six seasons with sack totals of 11 or more, and was picked as a First-Team All-Pro four times. Strahan was a Hall of Fame finalist in 2013 but fell short, likely due to the fact that he is now just a giant Regis Philbin.

4 Chris Doleman

150.5 Sacks, 232 GP

Taking Chris Doleman with the fourth overall pick in 1985, the Vikings put the former Pitt Panther at linebacker, and his career had a disappointingly slow start. That is until Minnesota wised up and switched the 6-foot-5 beast to defensive end, and he just took off. Two years after making the switch, Doleman posted a ridiculous 21-sack season, and tallied 11 or more sacks in all but four of his remaining seasons. In 15 years in the league, Doleman was an eight-time Pro Bowler, a two-time First-Team All-Pro, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

3 Kevin Greene

160 Sacks, 228 GP

Kevin Greene was a true menace at the outside linebacker position, with his long blonde hair flapping out the back of his helmet as he chased down helpless opponents. Despite racking up 10 or more sacks in all but four seasons, however, Greene actually bounced around the league quite a bit. In his 15-year career, Greene enjoyed productive stints with the Rams, Steelers, Panthers, and Niners, making trips to five Pro Bowls, earning First-Team All-Pro honors twice, and tallying 160 career sacks. Not too shabby for a guy that wasn’t picked until the fifth round of the 1985 draft.

2 Reggie White

198 Sacks, 232 GP

Known as “The Minister of Defense,” Reggie White could have been called “The Undertaker” because he was the absolute master of putting quarterbacks into the ground. Drafted fourth overall by the Eagles in 1984, White spent eight years in Philly, followed by six in Green Bay, and one in Carolina. Over his illustrious 15-year career, White went to an astonishing 13 straight Pro Bowls from ’86 to ’98 and won two Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also amassed 11 or more sacks in all but three of his seasons in the pros – a feat that, not surprisingly, earned him induction into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

1 Bruce Smith

200 Sacks, 279 Games Played

A highly-touted and award-winning defensive end coming out of Virginia Tech, Bruce “The Sack Man” Smith was taken with the first overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1985 draft, and over the course of his long career he made it more than worth their while. He went to 11 Pro Bowls in 15 seasons with the Bills, notching double-digit sacks 12 different times and anchoring one of the strongest defensive units of the 1990s. He added 29 sacks over his last four years in the league with the Washington Redskins, giving him a nice, round career total of 200.

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