Giants legend and Hall of Famer Michael Strahan does not want just anyone to break his single-season sack record.
If it has to fall, he wants Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald to do it.
“The sack record is fantastic and it’s great, but I hope Aaron does break it,” he told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. “There have been guys who have gotten close, but I just want it to be a good guy who breaks it. Not some jerk, or some guy who doesn’t care about it or take pride in what he does and just kind of luckily rolls through.
“I want somebody who represents the NFL in the right way. He’s that guy.”
It has already been a historic season for Donald, who set the Rams franchise sack record and NFL record for sacks by a defensive tackle last week against the Arizona Cardinals.
The 27-year-old enters Week 17 with 19.5 sacks, three shy of Strahan’s 22.5 mark set during the 2001 season.
Compiling four sacks in a game is a tall task, but not unheard of, especially for Donald — who had four sacks against the 49ers in Week 7 and will see them again in Sunday’s season finale.
“It’s something that’s out there,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “You don’t acknowledge [it] in the team meetings. You talk about guys playing to the best of their ability, and doing different things to hopefully make plays like that. But htat’s not something that we’re saying, like, ‘This is the key to the game for us to be able to win as a team.'”
What impresses Strahan most about Donald is that he has been able to do it as an interior lineman who is often double-teamed as he tries to put pressure on the quarterback.
“That’s kind of like fighting your way out of a phone booth because you get surrounded on all sides,” said Strahan, who played defensive end. “When people know you’re the guy who gets sacks and creates all that stuff, not only are you fighting in a phone booth, but they’re constricting the walls of the phone booth by making sure everybody’s really paying attention to you. You kind of have that double trouble.”
Donald, who signed a six-year, $135 million contract before the season, was told of Strahan’s high praise for him on Thursday.
“Any time you get a Hall of Fame player that even knows my name, you’re going to be pumped up about that,” he said. “So it means a lot coming from a guy like that.”
While Donald will get a chance at the record against the 49ers, they will have a different quarterback than the last time when he sacked C.J. Beathard four times.
Nick Mullens will be under center for San Francisco and coincidentally played at Southern Mississippi, the same school as Brett Favre — who Strahan sacked for his record.
Of course, Favre rolled out and fell down, allowing Strahan to sack him and resulted in some controversy about the legitimacy of the record itself.
“People make jokes, and people try to make quips about it,” Strahan said. “But it’s always people who have never done it. If you’ve never done something, how can you tell me that something I’ve done isn’t right or isn’t good enough?”