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Kayvon Thibodeaux: 'You have no choice but to be great' when you have shoes to fill like Giants legends

Sometimes it takes looking back to see the way forward.

For linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, his appreciation of the many Giants pass-rushing greats to come before him has provided continued inspiration to become the next in line, something he alluded to Thursday during the team's "A Night with Legends" event.

"I mean, L.T. (Lawrence Taylor) back there, man. Just him, Michael Strahan, Carl Banks, Osi Umenyiora," Thibodeaux said on stage. "When you've got a guy like L.T., right, we just kind of exchanged in the back and he's like, 'Man, how many sacks did you have last year?' And I'm like, 'Oh, I had 11.5. Pretty good.' He's like, 'What'd you play? Three games?'

"When you've got those shoes to fill, you have no choice but to be great. I've got the greatest guys to look up to, and now I just continue to set goals and accomplish them."

The event served to kick off celebrations for the Giants' 100th year, which will see New York attempt to recapture its winning ways after a 6-11 campaign and just two postseason trips in the past dozen seasons following a victory in Super Bowl XLVI.

Thibodeaux will be a massive part of those efforts. Unlike the team overall, though, he'll be looking to build on recent success.

The 23-year-old has lived up to the billing of being the No. 5 overall pick in 2022, as he ended his first campaign with a fourth-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting before leading the team in sacks with 11.5 last season.

He'll have a little extra help to improve on his numbers again thanks to New York's trade for edge rusher Brian Burns, who has 46 career sacks, but he'd also be wise to take any advice he can from the team legends he mentioned.

All four rank in the top 15 on the Giants' all-time sack list. Banks sits 14th with 36, while Umenyiora finished his career with 75 to nab the sixth spot. Strahan is the one to Taylor's two, albeit with the caveat that L.T. played one year before sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Therefore, Strahan reigns supreme with 141.5. (Pro Football Reference does credit Taylor with 9.5 as a rookie, giving him an unofficial 142 in his career.)

Regardless, those numbers are something to aim for and also a long way off for Thibodeaux, who enters Year 3 with 15.5 sacks to his name.

As for a goal Thibodeaux set for the immediate future, Taylor and Strahan would both require passing in his professed mission to break the single-season sack record in 2024.

Strahan owns a share of the record, 22.5 sacks, with T.J. Watt; Taylor's best season came in 1986 with 20.5.

Together, the Giants greats have contributed two of the NFL's 13 seasons in which a player reached the 20-sack mark.

Thibodeaux's amped up to try and join them, an outcome that would be especially fitting during Big Blue's centennial celebration.

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