New sack data is kind to Vikings’ Purple People Eaters

Pro Football Reference has unveiled the results of a long-running stat project, and the Minnesota Vikings came out nicely.

Before 1982, quarterback sacks were not an official NFL stat. That has led to a lack of data to fully show (at least statistically) how great the greatest pass rushers who played before that were. Unfortunately, that has included the key pieces of the Minnesota Vikings‘ “Purple People Eaters” defensive line.

Until now.

On Monday, Pro Football Reference revealed the results of a long-running project to tabulate sacks from 1960-81. It’s still unofficial data, in a league record sense. But the results are as eye-opening as one might expect, as some all-time greats (like Deacon Jones) get better statistical backing.

The Vikings truly dominated the new sack data

The unveiling of the unofficial all-time NFL sack leaders was kind to the Vikings. Alan Page was credited with 148.5 sacks for his career (1967-81), which puts him eighth all-time (unofficially, of course). He had 108.5 of those sacks as a Viking, before tallying 40 sacks over his final three-plus seasons as a Chicago Bear.

Page’s fellow Hall-of-Famer, Carl Eller, tallied 133.5 sacks, which is good for 18th all-time on the new list. Eller spent all but his final NFL season in purple, with three sacks for the Seattle Seahawks in 1979.

Another member of the Purple People Eaters, Jim Marshall, comes in with 130.5 sacks (tied for 22nd all-time). Marshall was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1960, but he played 270 games (never missing one) with 128 sacks for the Vikings from 1961-79. He has somehow avoided induction into the Hall of Fame, in one of the great oversights of all time. But maybe this new data will help the uninitiated realize how great Marshall was.

As Daily Norseman highlighted, the Vikings now have six members of the new all-time top-25 in sacks.

No. 7 – Chris Doleman, 150.5
No. 8 – Alan Page, 148.5
No. 14 (tied) – John Randle, 137.5
No. 16 (tied) – Jared Allen, 136
No. 18 (tied) – Carl Eller, 133.5
No. 22 (tied) – Jim Marshall, 130.5

Source: FanSided

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