Magazine lists Bacon among top NFL pass rushers

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2000

When the heat was on, generally Coy Bacon was the guy with the match.

Monday, August 28, 2000

When the heat was on, generally Coy Bacon was the guy with the match.

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Or, more accurately, the blow torch.

Bacon, the fearsome defensive end who began his playing career at Ironton High School, was considered a great pass rusher during his 16-year NFL career. This week’s Sports Illustrated magazine not only agrees, but takes it one step further.

SI listed what it determined to be the top 10 best pass rushers in NFL history, and sitting at No. 10 on the list was Bacon.

"I haven’t seen the story yet, but it’s an honor. I’m among all the greats. I feel good about it," Bacon said.

Reggie White, who recently came out of retirement to sign with Carolina, was listed as the best all-time pass rusher ahead of David "Deacon" Jones, a Hall of Famer who played with Bacon on the Los Angeles Rams "Fearsome Foursome" defensive front that included another Hall of Fame player in Merlin Olson.

Lawrence Taylor, only a year removed from his induction into the NFL’s Hall of Fame, was ranked third. The Rams Jack Youngblood was fourth followed by Bruce Smith, now with the Washington Redskins, Gino Marchetti, Mark Gastineau, Kevin Greene, Al "Bubba" Baker, and Bacon.

Bacon was a five-time All-Pro and was voted the Cincinnati Bengals Most Valuable Player in 1976, one of his All-Pro seasons. He recorded 26 quarterback sacks that season which would have been an NFL record, but the total was later changed to 21 and one-half.

"I want them to recognize my 26 sacks with the Bengals. I have no idea why they changed it," Bacon said.

Bacon, who played college ball at Jackson State, was signed as a free agent by the Dallas Cowboys, then traded to the Rams where he became part of the "Fearsome Foursome."

He later spent two years with the San Diego Chargers before being traded to the Bengals. After his stint in Cincinnati, Bacon finished his career with the Redskins.

Bacon’s movement from team-to-team was generally due to that team’s need for a pass rusher. In fact, Sports Illustrated called Bacon "A pass rusher for hire."

Although Bacon was considered a great pass rusher, some critics claimed he did not play well against the run. Bacon disputes the idea.

"There were some who said I couldn’t play the run, but you don’t play 16 years of pro ball and can’t play the run," Bacon said.

"A lot of how you play depends on the coaches’ calls for you. My job was to create a distraction. That was our call and my responsibility."

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, Bacon was considered massive for a defensive end during his playing days. That wasn’t an unusual situation for Bacon who weighed 225 at Ironton when most players were between 160 to 180 pounds.

"I was 180 and then one year I shot up to 225," Bacon said.

Since most teams were aware of Bacon’s ability to rush the quarterback, offensive tackles were prepared for his fierce attacks. But Bacon’s quickness off the ball ruined their best laid plans.

"Each offensive tackle is different," Bacon said. "My thing was to beat them off the ball. You had to have an ‘A’ move and a ‘B’ move. The main thing was to get off the ball. Most tackles couldn’t get back quick enough."

But don’t blame the offensive tackles. They were playing against one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time.

Just check the list.