Jon Beason wasn't just rehabbing this summer. He was researching.
He wanted to find out the Giants' single-season record for tackles and who held it. It seemed like a simple task. With 89 years of franchise history he was certain he'd come across a mythic number attached to a mythic name. Sam Huff. Lawrence Taylor. Harry Carson. One of the all-time greats.
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What he found, though, is that the queasy nature of the stat meant the Giants' official records don't go back very far. Only to the 2000 season. And the king of the list isn't exactly Giants royalty. As far as the team is concerned, the unofficial record is held by Micheal Barrow who had 148 in 2003, but it's not even listed in their media guide or on their website.
Not exactly Roger Maris' 61 in '61.
"I was told it doesn't exist," Beason said of the benchmark, which the Giants virtually ignore.
He seemed disappointed. But no matter. He plans on topping the list soon enough, even if he has to create his own to do it.
"If that's what it is, then that's the mark," Beason told Newsday with a shrug this week. "One hundred and fifty, I think, is obtainable. I don't think it's anything that is far-fetched to be honest."
Not if he plays like he did with the Panthers early in his career and in part of last season with the Giants. When the Panthers credited him with 160 tackles as a rookie in 2007 (ironically breaking the team record that was held by Barrow as well), he didn't even know he was setting a new mark. The next year he had 159, then in 2009 had 169 followed by 162 in his final fully healthy season in Carolina.
"It became a kind of competition," Beason said. "You always want to do better. So you break it the next year, break it the next year, and you keep setting the standard."
Last year he had 93 tackles with the Giants, but that was playing linebacker in just 11 games after he was acquired in a trade. Prorated to a full season, it's about 135 tackles over 16 games. Beason tacks on a few extra because he was only playing in the base defense early in his Giants tenure.
"It would have put me at about 135 or 140," he said. "Then I was coming off the [knee] injury, I know I wasn't in great shape, and having to learn a new scheme. There were some games I felt like I could have played better in. I want to have more of those big tackle games like I did [with 17] against Washington where you're kind of just blinking. Before I got hurt I would have four or five of those a year where you have 13-, 14-plus tackles."
Which would, of course, put 148 within his sights.
"You look at stats for a guy who is a pretty good linebacker, he'll make 100 tackles," Beason reasoned. "You make 100, you're averaging seven or eight tackles a game. If you play every down, that's a good number. Then based on how you go about your business, the extra effort, the want-to, that's when you get to nine and 10 a game. If you hit that number, now you're the best in the league. It's amazing that the margin is just one or two plays."
There are obviously peaks and valleys, though. Beason said he thinks he can reach the not-quite record even if he misses a game or two. He's still on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) with a foot injury, remember, and hasn't even practiced this training camp. Earlier this week, he ramped up his rehab on the side.
"As far as I know, he's done well," Tom Coughlin said of Beason's response to the added grind. "He's done everything they've asked him to do. The movement on the field and what he's done on the field has been good."
Beason appears close to hitting his targeted date and returning for the Sept. 8 opener against Detroit. Even if he doesn't, he'll still have the tackle goal.
"You don't have to play every game," he said. "When I did the 160, I had games with four or five tackles, but then you have a game where you get 16 or 17. The objective is to do your job."
The objective becomes subjective very quickly, though. Beason's astronomical tackle numbers from Carolina are a bit of a canard. The record-setting stats in the 160s are referenced in the team's media guide and on its website, but they are based off coaches grades and film evaluation. Official NFL stats, which are recorded during the game from the press box without the benefit of a rewind button, credit him with far fewer tackles. Never more than 141 in 2009, in fact. Over the four-year period of Beason's prime in Carolina, the difference between his official tackle numbers and his team-recognized tackle numbers is a staggering 110.
Which is right? Which is more accurate? It's hard to say. But when a player is not credited with a sack or a half-sack during the game, the team can petition the league to have the statistic changed. The same with offensive stats that are routinely corrected. Tackles, though, are written in stone and not reviewed.
"I don't know why they don't do it with tackles," Beason said. "You go back and you had 160-plus for four years but then you end up with 140, 130, 120. One year they were 40 off. It really upsets you. But that's what the stats are."
To whatever extent the Giants do recognize tackles as a statistic, they go by the NFL's numbers and not their in-house tallies. Which will make it more difficult for Beason to break the team's quasi-record. He thinks he can, which is why he went digging for the information in the first place.
"Anytime you do anything," he said, "you want to know who was the best at it."
Beason expects to be the best for the Giants. Even if it doesn't actually count.