Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Best Players by Number, and a Big Fumble

Mitchell and Ness, purveyors of throwback jerseys, recently posted their take on the "Best Football Players at Every Number".
(W)e decided to look at the best players at every number in the history of the NFL. We'll take any chance we get to reminisce about amazing players such as Jim Brown or Barry Sanders - it's almost like going back in time to a different era of the National Football League. It's also great to think about the current players who are putting together Hall of Fame careers right front of our eyes, reminding us to not take their talents for granted. After much debate, we’ve created a thorough list, picking players from past and present, to create the "Best Players by Number – Gridiron Edition".
Four Packers made their list.

The full breakdown is at their site, but here's what they had to say about the Bays who topped their respective numbers:

Favre wore #4 over 20 seasons with the Falcons, Packers, Jets and Vikings. One of the best quarterbacks to play the game, Favre was a XXXI Super Bowl Champ, 2x NFC Champion, 11x Pro Bowler, 3x First-team All-Pro, 3x Second-team All-Pro, 3x NFL MVP, 5x NFC Player of the Year, and 4x NFL Passing TDs Leader. His #4 has been retired by the Packers where he was also inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Honorable Mentions: Jim Harbaugh, Jason Hanson


Starr spent his entire 16 year career with the Packers where he won 5 NFL Championships and 2 Super Bowls. In more personal accolades, Starr was the 1966 NFL MVP, a 2x Super Bowl MVP, a 4x Pro Bowl selection, 1966 First-team All-Pro, and 2x Second-team All-Pro. Post-career, Bart’s #15 was retired by the Packers and he was inducted into both the Packers and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shop Bart Starr jerseys here.

Honorable Mentions: Jack Kemp, Neil Lomax


Nitschke, known for this strength and toughness, was a middle linebacker who spent his entire 15-year career with the Packers. He was the anchor of a disciplined defense that helped win 5 NFL titles and the first 2 Super Bowls of the 1960s. Ray’s #66 has been retired by the Packers, he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nitschke was also voted as a member of the NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team. Shop Ray Nitschke jerseys here.

Honorable Mentions: Alan Faneca, Larry Little


Multitalented, this (primarily) defensive end and defensive tackle played in the NFL for fifteen seasons during the 1980’s and 90’s. Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and Carolina Panthers, White became one of the most decorated players in NFL history! The second place all-time sack leader (198.5 sacks) was a two time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, thirteen time Pro-Bowler, and twelve time All Pro. He was selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team, and the NFL 1980’s All-Decade Team. A Super Bowl XXXI champion, 1985 All-USFL, and 1986 Pro Bowl MVP, are a few of his many accomplishments. Also famous for his philanthropy as an ordained Evangelical minister, he has been given the name “Minister of Defense.” Shop Reggie White jerseys here.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Strahan, Haloti Ngata, James Harrison, Ted Washington
Two other Packers made the list, although they're represented by jerseys from other teams they played for; Eugene Robinson (Falcons) and Emlen Tunnell (Giants).

Those aren't bad picks, but come on. I know couple guys who would like to have a word with the author of this list.

#14 is Dan Fouts? And the only "honorable mention" they could come up with was Ken Anderson? Fouts was a great, to be sure. But Don Hutson was an immortal. Hutson was football's Babe Ruth, in his prime playing at a level far above his contemporaries. In 1942, Hutson had more receiving touchdowns by himself than eight of the other nine teams in the league. Seventy years after he retired, he still holds ten league records, and a couple of them are unlikely ever to be broken (most notably, leading the league in TDs 8 years in a row). All this, and he played defense too. He's one of the greatest to ever play the game, not to mention being the greatest receiver in the sport's history.

Also notably absent is Tony Canadeo, the "Gray Ghost".

Canadeo doesn't have the gaudy numbers that Hutson brings to the conversation, but he was still a dominant player for a decade. He was one of the greatest Packers ever to put on a uniform, already saying something, and did it on some of the worst teams Green Bay ever fielded. There's a good reason that his #3 was the second number retired by the team, and not to even include him as an honorable mention is a ludicrous oversight.

The NFL has a tendency towards myopia in its treatment of the pre-Super Bowl era. That continues to trickle down all across the sport, even to manufacturers of high-end collectibles.


Chris Wegner said...

Another Packer, Julius Peppers (#90 though), is also on the list with the Carolina Panthers jersey.

Also given the longevity of Charles Woodson's career and the brevity of Barry Sanders's career, #21 is another somewhat questionable pick.

Quinn Siebers said...

You forgot to mention a current Packer, Julius Peppers, for being on there (but with a Panthers jersey and his old number, 90).