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Who has the most sacks in NFL history?

Bruce Smith at a Buffalo Bills ceremony
Bruce Smith at a Buffalo Bills ceremony
Tyler Wombles
ANALYST
Modified 14 Feb 2021
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It's as integral to the game as anything else: daunting, ferocious NFL defenders chasing down quarterbacks.

Sacks are one of the most exciting parts of football, and it takes a special player to record a lot of them, let alone lead the league in that category.

Defensive end Bruce Smith has the most sacks in NFL history with 200, a sensational number he accrued while playing for the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins from from 1985-2003.

Second all-time is defensive end Reggie White (198), followed by linebacker Kevin Greene (160) at No. 3.

Interestingly, Smith, White and Greene even played during the same time period; White's career lasted from 1985-2000, while Greene played from 1985-99.

White was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. Greene played for the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.


Bruce Smith was an imposing NFL defensive end

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New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills

Smith was born in 1963 in Norfolk, Virginia. He played high school football at Booker T. Washington before joining the Virginia Tech Hokies in college.

At Virginia Tech, Smith had 71 tackles-for-a-loss and 46 sacks, including 22 in 1983. Among his accolades, he won the Outland Trophy in 1984, was an All-American and is in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

The Bills selected Smith with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft, and he would go on to spend 14 seasons with the franchise.

Smith's best season with Buffalo was in 1990, when he totaled 19 sacks and 101 tackles, all solo. He also forced four fumbles.

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Buffalo released Smith after the 1999 campaign in order to eliminate salary cap space; fellow standouts Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas were also ousted.

Smith joined Washington in 2000 and played there for four seasons; in his first with the team, he notched 10 sacks and 58 tackles. He retired from football after Washington released him in 2004.

During his NFL career, Smith was an 11-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time First-Team All-Pro. He was twice named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and won AFC Defensive Player of the Year four times.

Along with his 200 sacks, Smith also totaled 1,225 tackles, 43 forced fumbles and two interceptions in the NFL.

Smith was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Three years later, in his first year of eligibility, Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Published 14 Feb 2021, 14:00 IST
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