When it comes to Bengals pass-rushers, most fans are more familiar with this generation’s stars. Both Carlos Dunlap (64.5) and Geno Atkins (61) have carved out the top two franchise spots in career sacks, while Justin Smith and Eddie Edwards are known from previous eras.
But, for those who are either up to snuff on their Bengals history, or watched the team in the 1970s, one prominent pass-rusher ranks up there as one of the best the franchise has ever seen. Even though he spent just two seasons in Cincinnati, Coy Bacon is fondly remembered in The Queen City.
Unfortunately for Bacon, he played in an era where sacks weren’t a calculated statistical category and isn’t always at the top of mind.
But, don’t tell one famed NFL personnel man and current writer that nonsense. In a recent list of his top historical defensive ends, Bacon made Gil Brandt’s recent list of the top-31 players to ever play the position.
23. Coy Bacon
Los Angeles Rams, 1968-1972; San Diego Chargers, 1973-1975; Cincinnati Bengals, 1976-1977; Washington Redskins, 1978-1981
Voted to three Pro Bowls
Credited by some as recording NFL-record 26 sacks in 1976 (sacks didn’t become official NFL stat until 1982)
Given the emphasis on sacks as criteria for both Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame nominations, we have to wonder what other accolades Bacon would have received in today’s NFL. Regardless, Bacon was a monster in his era—both in size (6’4”, 270 pounds) and in production.
Part of the reason for Bacon’s relative obscurity in NFL annals is the fact that he played with star edge rusher, Deacon Jones, for four seasons (1968-1971). Playing under the immense shadow of Jones at the beginning of his career definitely didn’t do any favors to his NFL reputation.
Regardless, in that aforementioned 1976 season, Bacon made the Pro Bowl with the Bengals. Bacon spent 14 total years in the league, spending time with the Rams, Chargers and Redskins aside from those two years with Cincinnati.
Bacon beat out some prominent names on Brandt’s list, including L.C. Greenwood, Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney, John Abraham and Michael Bennett. Many of those names will be in Canton someday.
In last year’s top-50 players list put out by the club at the time of the same milestone anniversary, Bacon came in at No. 34. It was quite an accomplishment for a player who spent a short amount of time with the team.