Bacon sizzles record

1-11-02, 5:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Coy Bacon, the Bengals' season sack king with 22, isn't happy how the Giants' Michael Strahan set the NFL record last Sunday with 22.5.

The image of Packers quarterback Brett Favre falling down as a virtually unblocked Strahan fell on top of him galls a man who is still fighting for four more sacks from that gold rush of 1976.

"Pitiful," said Bacon Friday from his home in Ironton, Ohio. "That wasn't playing football. To set a national record like that by touching a guy lying on the ground, that's terrible. I had to go through two, three, four guys to get sacks. Do you think Art Shell or Gene Upshaw would let a guy through like that?"

Bacon also thought it was strange Strahan and Favre seemed buddy buddy.

"Talking before the game, after the game, during the game, patting him on the butt," Bacon said. "I never talked to the quarterback. I was trying to chase him down. I was trying to get him. I didn't feel like talking to him."

And Bacon, 58, challenged "somebody playing in the NFL right now," to do what he did in Cincinnati.

"Let them try to get 26 sacks in 14 games," Bacon said. "I give them that challenge for next year."

Bacon claims he had 26 sacks back in '76, six years before sacks were recognized as an official NFL statistic. Back then, teams kept their own sack stats, much like they now chart tackles because tackles are still not an official league stat.

When P.J. Combs, the Bengals assistant public relations director, unearthed the team's year-by-year

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defensive stats several years ago, he discovered that eight of Bacon's sacks were shared and should be counted as a half sack. Bacon was in on 26 quarterback takedowns, but his sack total is 22.

"Mike Brown paid me for 26," Bacon said. "They gave me $1,500 for each sack and the Bengals paid me for 26."

Brown, the Bengals president, isn't about to quibble with Bacon's memory. He thinks the Bengals may have inherited the incentive clause from Bacon's Chargers' contract.

The Bengals had just 27 sacks in 1975 and still went to the playoffs with an 11-3 record. But Mike and Paul Brown, in one of his first moves as the general manager who was no longer the coach, wanted to get pressure on the quarterback.

They dipped into the Bengals' deep receiving corps (Isaac Curtis, Chip Myers, Charlie Joiner) and shipped Joiner to San Diego in one of those trades that should have helped both teams. Joiner went to the Hall of Fame, but Bacon had just 5.5 sacks the next season as personal problems ended his career in Cincinnati after two years.

But Bacon, 58, has his life back together and works with troubled youth in northern Ohio. The Strahan play struck a nerve as he recalled some of the offensive linemen and tight ends he played against.

"Doug Dieken, Art Shell, Dan Dierdorf, John Mackey, Dave Casper," Bacon said. "These were hard-nosed ballplayers. I'd get double- and triple-teamed and still come up with sacks. And then to see that happen. I think it's making a mockery of the record."

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