CFL

Grover Covington: Sack Machine

Grover Covington was a sack machine. For a decade between 1981 and 1991 he was a standout player on defense for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Covington really jumped off the page recently when Odell Willis recorded his 100th sack. That brought back memories of last year when Charleston Hughes did the same thing.

One thing that stood out when looking at those articles was that only 3 active players had recorded 100 sacks. Willis, Hughes & John Bowman.

Between them they had at that point recorded 358 sacks over 587 career games. That figure now stands at 363 sacks over 590 career games.

A Cut Above average

The reason that really stood out when writing about Willis and Hughes was seeing Grover Covington at the top of the CFL all time sack list.

Not only did he manage 157 career sacks, but he did it in a mere 168 career games. A strike rate of just under one QB take-down per career game.

The man closest to him, Elfrid Payton took another 38 games to reach 4 sacks less (153 sacks in 205 games).

Right Place Right time

Covington was in the right place at the right time. Not only because of how well he fitted into the tabbies defensive plans. But also because the CFL started tracking sacks as an official statistic in 1981 coinciding exactly with his career.

Grover moved to Hamilton in a trade with Montreal prior to the 1981 season after graduating from Johnson C. Smith University in 1980. It was a perfect pairing as he spent his entire 11 years with the Tiger-Cats, finally retiring in 1991.

A dominant force

Covington had 16 sacks in his 16 game rookie season and received an East All-Star selection. Besides that initial East All-Star selection, Covington would go on to win another six such honours, in consecutive years from 1985 to 1990. 

There were four CFL All-Star selections during that run too (1985, 1986, 1988 an 1989). He also twice led the CFL in sacks (1985 and 1989).

Covington’s best season was 1988 when had 25 sacks in an 18 game season and was named the Outstanding Defensive Player in the CFL.

The big occasion did not prove too much for him either as he totaled 3 sacks in the Tiger-Cats 1986 Grey Cup victory over Edmonton and was named top Defensive Player of the title game that year.

Covington was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

It is quite something to think that at the time of his retirement, he was the CFL’s all-time quarterback sack leader with 157 sacks to his credit.

That was in 1991. The closest any active player stands is 26 sacks behind having played having played 58 more games. Not to mention this is 28 years later.

Even if and when somebody takes the record his career will have stood the test of time, for Grover Covington truly was a sack machine.

Banner Image: Covington celebrates; from the Vancouver Sun

Article written by:

Chris Lawton joined the NFLGirlUK.com team in 2017 and has been writing about the CFL ever since. He originally started following the NFL with the 'first wave' of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980's. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL from the inception of Ninety-Nine Yards. You can find him on twitter as @CFLfanUK

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  1. Pd

    Great article. I remember watching him live as a kid not realizing that I was watching one of the best ever.

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