It is perhaps the most exciting and impactful non-scoring play in sports. Sacks change games and often lead to catchy nicknames for Fearsome (Foursome) front fours. But some names among the NFL's all-time franchise sacks leaders may surprise you. Like the player who never even made a Pro Bowl, the relative no-name Steelers leader and the one who wouldn't even rank in the top-five for some teams. Here they are, from most sacks for a franchise leader to least, starting with Bruce Smith. (The NFL didn't make sacks an official stat until 1982.) The greatest of all time? When you consider all the ways Smith affected a game, his success in every facet and -- oh, by the way -- a remarkable 171 sacks, he may well be in the argument with Reggie White. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 of 32John W. McDonough/SI
Michael Strahan: 141.5
Only Brett Favre and Michael Strahan will ever know if the last-minute, single-season record-breaking sack in 2002 was a gift. But don't forget: Even without that sack, Strahan would have topped the Giants' sack charts -- and the great Lawrence Taylor -- by eight sacks.
3 of 32Bob Rosato/SI
Jason Taylor: 131
In the storied history of the Dolphins, no one has made more plays consistently than Taylor, whose 131 sacks are among the most ever one player has had with one team. Beyond that, Taylor forced fumbles, recovered them, intercepted passes and made tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
4 of 32Peter Read Miller/SI
Derrick Thomas: 126.5
Simply one of the greatest outside linebackers in NFL history, Thomas had every move, all the skill and premiere athletic ability. His seven sacks against the Seahawks remains an NFL record, but perhaps more impressive: He also had six sacks in a game once, four sacks in a game twice and three sacks in a single game five times.
5 of 32John Iacono/SI
Richard Dent: 124.5
Michael Singletary and Dan Hampton were the stalwarts of the great Bears defenses of the mid-1980s, but no one made more big plays and wreaked more havoc than Dent, whose 124.5 career sacks with the Bears topped Hampton and Steve McMichael. All you need to know about his production was he averaged more sacks per-game than Reggie White, Bruce Smith and Michael Strahan.
6 of 32John Iacono/SI
Reggie White: 124
No surprise here. Reggie White was perhaps the greatest defensive lineman the NFL has known. White's dominance was such that he also ranks second all-time on the Packers' list and his 198.5 career sacks (not counting 24 in the USFL) is more than the combined number of the rival Redskins' top two sacks leaders, Dexter Manley and Charles Mann.
7 of 32Ray Carlin/Icon SMI
DeMarcus Ware: 115
Ware matched Harvey Martin's 30-year-old franchise record with his 114th in the first half against St. Louis on Sept. 22, 2013, and got his second of the game to surpass Martin in the third quarter. Sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982, but the Cowboys have tracked sacks since the start of their franchise in 1960. Martin had 114 sacks in 158 games from 1973-83, according to the team. Ware was a Pro Bowl pick the last seven seasons as a linebacker.
8 of 32Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Rickey Jackson: 115
Drew Brees may finally have put the once-woeful Saints franchise over the top, but it was Rickey Jackson and the "Dome Patrol" that made people take the Saints seriously. Jackson made a career of refusing to be overshadowed or overlooked, finishing with 115 Saints sacks and always being around the ball.
9 of 32John W. McDonough/SI
John Randle: 114
No one could possibly question John Randle's dominating ways, racking up 114 sacks over his career. Still, an asterisk could be justified, considering the Vikings unofficially credit Carl Eller with 130.5, Jim Marshall with 127 and Alan Page with 108 sacks. And those greats were teammates on the famed Purple People Eaters defensive line, before sacks became an official statistic.
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Robert Mathis: 110
With his strip sack safety of Houston's Case Keenum on Sunday (Dec. 15), Robert Mathis set both a franchise record (108) and the Colts' single-season record in sacks (16.5). Longtime teammate and close friend Dwight Freeney held the Colts' previous marks, getting 16 in 2004 and 107½ in his career. The Freeney/Mathis combination will go down as one of the greatest in NFL history for good reason. The bookend pass-rushers already epitomized the, "Meet you at the quarterback" mentality of today's defensive game, combining for 199 sacks until Freeney's departure to San Diego in 2013.
11 of 32V.J. Lovero/SI
Greg Townsend: 107.5
He was a true Raiders legend, playing virtually his entire career in silver-and-black and epitomizing the proverbial "Raiders way." He was intense and unrelenting, finishing with 107.5 sacks in a Raiders uniform and being a part of a Super Bowl championship team.
12 of 32George Tiedemann/SI
Leslie O'Neal: 105.5
Whenever lists are made of the all-time greatest NFL pass-rushers, O'Neal's name rarely gets mentioned. What a shame. You'd be hard-pressed to find sack artists who had more than his eight double-digit sack seasons. For a seven-year stretch from 1989 to 1995, O'Neal averaged nearly 13 sacks (12.7) a season. His 105.5 at San Diego will be hard to top.
13 of 32Mike Kullen/AP
Andre Tippett: 100
Opposing quarterbacks shuddered at the sight of Tippett coming off the edge in a passing situation. He still owns the three highest season sack totals in Patriots history and had a two-year mark of 35 sacks in 1984 and 1985 that remains the most of any linebacker in NFL history.
14 of 32Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Simon Fletcher: 97.5
Seemingly born to be a Bronco, Fletcher brought his best every week, playing in 172 consecutive games, finishing with a franchise-best 97.5 career sacks, including an NFL-record 10 consecutive weeks with at least one sack. At 6-6, 240 pounds, Fletcher was perfect for the 3-4 defense as an end or outside linebacker.
15 of 32Andy Hayt/SI; Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images
Jacob Green: 97.5
Playing in the Great Northwest on a team that was not a marquee brand, Green may be one of the most under-rated dominant defensive linemen. Some might even make a Hall of Fame case, considering he finished close to the elite 100-sack club (97.5), despite sacks not being an official statistic his first two seasons in the league.
16 of 32Paul Sancya/AP
Robert Porcher: 95.5
Had Robert Porcher played anywhere else during his career, he might have had even more than his 95.5 career sacks, become a much more acclaimed player nationally and perhaps even be in Hall of Fame conversations. But in 12 seasons, Porcher thrived despite playing for five coaches, being a part of just five winning seasons and never winning a playoff game.
17 of 32Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Terrell Suggs: 94.5
One of the best all-around linebackers in the game, Suggs passed Peter Boulware for the Ravens' all-time sacks lead, notching three sacks in the 2011 season opener against Pittsburgh to push his career total to 71.5. Suggs' earned it with a unique combination of tenacity, power and finesse.
18 of 32Manny Millan, Jerry Wachter/SI
Dexter Manley: 91
Manley was a remarkable NFL story in every way. He was a fifth-round pick whose dominance was unquestioned. His 91 career sacks are even more amazing, considering the NFL didn't even officially keep sack statistics his rookie year. And who knows how many more sacks Manley would have had if he hadn't been a habitual drug-user and eventually banned (then reinstated a year later) from the league.
19 of 32Brad Mangin/SI
Bryant Young: 89.5
What, you thought it was Charles Haley? Nope. Bryant Young was a rare talent who could collapse the pocket and make plays from the defensive tackle spot. He also was one of the toughest players the Niners have ever had. His 89.5 career sacks is a remarkable number, considering the traffic and double-teams he often faced.
20 of 32Peter Read Miller/SI
Leonard Little: 87.5
Little was no football schmuck. He was a career Ram who was part of two Super Bowl teams, terrified opposing QBs and left the game with a franchise-best 87.5 sacks. But even Little would acknowledge that if sacks were kept in the days of the Rams' Fearsome Foursome, his numbers would not come close to stacking up with Deacon Jones, who actually coined the term: "You know, like you sack a city."
21 of 32Peter Read Miller/SI
Julius Peppers: 81
The Panthers have had some success and a lot of great players in their short history, but none better than Peppers. The prototype rush end changed gameplans and consistently made plays, topping the Panthers board with 81 career sacks. His Carolina career may have ended on a sour note, but it will be a long time before his club record is broken.
22 of 32Al Tielemans/SI
Warren Sapp: 77
Tony Dungy's Tampa 2 defense might as well have been called the Sapp. Bucking the trend of outside rushers leading the sacks race, Sapp blew up offensive lines from the inside-out, ultimately stacking up an astonishing 77 career sacks as a defensive tackle.
23 of 32David Walberg/SI
Jason Gildon: 77
The names roll off the tongue like a Who's Who of NFL greats: Jack Hamm, L.C. Greenwood, Joey Porter, "Mean" Joe Greene, Greg Lloyd, James Harrison, Jack Lambert ... Jason Gildon? Yup. He was consistent, furious off the edge and one of the best if not most well-known Steelers defenders, accounting for 77 sacks.
24 of 32Al Tielemans/SI
Ray Childress: 75.5
Those who saw the Luv Ya Blue Oilers of the 1970s will tell you Robert Brazile was Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas before L.T. and Thomas did their thing. Still, sacks were not kept until 1982. Childress was a massive, yet nimble force and finished with 75.5 sacks despite playing in the middle of the line and often taking on double-teams.
25 of 32Peter Read Miller/SI
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila: 74.5
Who? Yeah, most casual fans would wonder who the guy was with 74.5 career sacks -- one of the lowest numbers of all franchise career sack leaders. But for a storied franchise with great defenders like Ray Nitschke, Aaron Kampann, Santana Dotson, Reggie White and Tim Harris, the pass-rushing specialist known as "KGB" surpassed White in 2007, starting just three of his last 24 games in Green Bay.
26 of 32Kevin Reece/Icon SMI
Mark Gastineau: 74
Fans always can argue the legitimacy of Michael Strahan's "gift" sack from Brett Favre in 2002, which broke Gastineau's single-season mark of 22. But undeniable is Gastineau's head-spinning 41 sacks in a mere two seasons in 1983 and 1984. Gastineau simply could not be blocked.
27 of 32Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Freddie Joe Nunn: 66.5
Freddie Joe Nunn is not a law firm. Unfortunately for Nunn, most fans today would be hard-pressed to remember his best days. He was a force off the edge as a linebacker and rush end. But Nunn never played on a winning team in St. Louis or Phoenix and had just two double-digit sack seasons, but his 67.5 career sacks lead the way for the Cards.
28 of 32AP
Clay Matthews, Sr.: 62
Pressuring the quarterback was not Matthews' greatest asset, but longevity and toughness made for a career sacks mark of 62 -- not counting the first five years of his career when the statistic was not recognized -- that does not come close to reflect how dominant a force Matthews was on the field.
29 of 32Al Tielemans/SI
Chuck Smith: 58.5
Make no mistake, Chuck Smith was an impact player who was an All-Pro in 1997 and was a big-time contributor on the Falcons' Super Bowl XXXIII team. His athleticism and technical skill were without question top-tier. Still, to be the franchise leader in sacks with just 58.5 pales in comparison to some of his contemporaries, like Bruce Smith, Kevin Green, Derrick Thomas and Reggie White.
30 of 32Tom Uhlman/AP
Tony Brackens: 55
An injury-shortened career and comparatively meager career sacks total of 55 doesn't begin to reflect the impact Brackens had as a player. A fearless hitter, Brackens made a habit of disrupting opposing backfields, always finding his way to the ball, forcing 28 career turnovers and consistently bringing pressure.
31 of 32Greg Nelson/SI
Mario Williams: 53
In barely more than five seasons, Williams amassed a franchise-best 53 sacks, relying heavily on a bull-rush that simply cannot be stopped by a single blocker. Williams missed the rest of the 2011 season after tearing a pectoral muscle while sacking Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell in Week 5. With the departure of Williams to Buffalo in 2012 and J.J. Watt's 20.5 sacks in 2012 alone, there may be a new leader relatively soon.
32 of 32Manny Rubio/US Presswire
Eddie Edwards: 47.5
Edwards may have to introduce himself to most casual NFL fans, as his career spanned one of the more underwhelming eras in Bengals history. But don't be fooled by the rather pedestrian career total of 47.5 sacks. Most of Edwards' sacks came before they were an official statistic. The Bengals have Edwards' unofficial total at 83.5, and he was a terror to block in the late-1970s. Send comments to email@example.com.
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