Coy Bacon, who still holds the Bengals season sack record with 22 in 1976, died Wednesday at his home in Ironton, Ohio, according to The Ironton Tribune.
Bacon, whose career spanned the Fearsome Foursome to the USFL before the sack was an official stat, played for the Bengals in 1976 and 1977 after he was traded from San Diego for Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner. He finished his NFL career with the Redskins from 1978-80 before a 1983 stint with the USFL's Washington Federals. He was credited with 130 career sacks, but the NFL didn't start recognizing the category until 1982.
He began his pro career backing up the vaunted Rams line of Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen , Roger Brown and Lamar Lundy and later replaced Lundy at right end. After his playing days, Bacon, 66, returned to Ironton, where he went to high school, and became a motivational speaker.
"Coy was a tremendous player for the Bengals, the greatest pass rusher our team has ever had," said Bengals president Mike Brown in a statement. "After he left the team, he worked hard to make life better for youths in the Ironton area. What he did was admirable, something all of us respect. We are saddened by his passing."
In an interview with Bengals.com after the Giants' Michael Strahan set the NFL single-season record in 2001 with 22.5, Bacon claimed he actually had 26 sacks in '76.
When P.J. Combs, the Bengals assistant public relations director, unearthed the team's year-by-year 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."
Bacon wasn't pleased that a virtually unblocked Strahan fell on Packers quarterback Brett Favre for the record.
"That wasn't playing football. To set a national record like that by touching a guy lying on the ground, that's terrible," Bacon said. "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, a delight at different functions when he made the trip from Ironton, was definitely old school. In that same story, he talked about how amazed he was that Favre and Strahan were so friendly to each other.
"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."