What is Elite?
Sometimes players make it easy to decide if they are destined for greatness. Not only do they jump off the TV screen from day one, they jump into million dollar extensions after their rookie deals.
Sometimes it takes a player a few years, and it’s a gradual climb for them to reach their peak, and they get rewarded after their second contract.
When it is all said and done, greatness is most often determined by the numbers piled up on the stat sheet. Recently, my take on one such stat has tied me to the butt of a running joke that I just can’t live down.
I’m not quite sure when it started, but it’s one of those statements that has taken a life of its own. Hang around the BFTB staff hallways or water cooler long enough and anytime a conversation comes up about an Elite Sack Specialist, my ears will start ringing because somebody will inevitably say something like this “Yeah, but does he have a 3 sack game?”
Not too long ago through our BFTB avenues of communication, there was a debate swirling around Los Angeles Chargers Melvin Ingram, and if he deserved a new long term contract or should the Chargers tag him as their franchise player. It wasn’t just whether the Chargers sign him long term, rather, the question was should they pay him like a top 5 sack specialist?
So I remarked, “He doesn’t even have a 3-sack game yet!”
Thus, the 3-sack game hazing began.
My thinking was, if the Chargers were going to give Ingram a big contract (he signed a 4-year $66 million deal in June), with the expectation that he was going to reach an elite status, shouldn’t he have had at least shown flashes of elite-single game production?
Think about it, name an elite sack specialist and I bet they have had at least one 3-sack game. Reggie White, Michael Strahan, Von Miller… even public enemy no. 1 Khalil Mack has surpassed that benchmark and he’s done so with a 5-sack game!
It was an honest and simple way to qualify a player, but it somehow morphed into football blasphemy.
But I digress. This isn’t about Ingram. I’m an Ingram fan for the most part. This is about this stupid 3-Sack nonsense that seems to be following me around anytime I discuss anything in the BFTB hallways.
Because it’s not just about a 3-Sack games anymore.
Sometimes when we are comparing players, somebody, will throw out the “But does he have 3-touchdown game or does he have a 3 interception game. One time, one of our writers snuck one into his story as an ode to my phrase discussing Ingram’s hip-hop talent.
Just when I think it’s dying down, it creeps into the conversation again.
Just the other day, Matthew Stanley asked me if Melvin Gordon’s one-leg vertical measurable was equivalent to a 3-Sack game.
I think I’m going to have to call Pro Football Focus and see if they can make these into actual set of benchmarks: 3-Straight 1,000 yd. rushing seasons, 3-straight 10 or less Int. seasons, or maybe 3-straight pancakes.
These key benchmarks could aid in the contract negotiations of players. Who knows how far this can go.
But if you have read this far, you are probably asking yourself, what in the hell is this article about? Why am I still reading this?
Well, by my count, you’re gonna need to ask yourself another question to make it that magical ‘3”.
In which case, welcome to this elite world of qualifiers that you can no longer escape from. And it didn’t even take you a second ‘read’ to get there.