Last week, I ranked the top 60 players in the NFL by jersey number. This week, I’m going to rank the top 101. There are a few reasons for my preference for numbers.
The NFL has a long tradition of sticking players with numbers that represent a certain amount of greatness. The first NFL draft was held in 1936, so in the first few years of the league’s existence players only wore the numbers 1 through 79. As the years went on, teams began to realize that certain numbers were more deserving than others, so they began placing players with worse records in these “unlucky” numbers. In 1977, the league decided to go forward with a new plan, one that would put a greater emphasis on players’ records, not their past performances. Thus, players had to wear their numbers as their actual numbers, and could only switch numbers if the team traded them or they retired the number.
The NFL continues to churn out incredible talent, and today we look at the players who are numbers 60-69. In sports, there’s no better way to experience nostalgia than to watch the players who made the biggest impact in your team’s history.. Read more about famous number 11 football players and let us know what you think.
The seventh episode of Sportscasting’s 10-part series “The 101 Greatest NFL Players by Uniform Number” is now available.
For those who haven’t been following along from the beginning, what we’re doing here is very straightforward. We’re just identifying the greatest player to wear each number, since there have been 101 NFL seasons played so far and 101 different numbers worn (0, 00, 1-99). We’ll post a new section of the list every Thursday until the start of the 2021 NFL season, which kicks off on September 9 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing the Dallas Cowboys.
Here’s a rundown of the players we’ve selected from 00 to 59 if you need a refresher:
This week, we’ll look at Nos. 60-69. While this section of the list may not be the most exciting for some since it has so many offensive lineman, it clearly contains some of the best players in NFL history.
Chuck Bednarik, No. 60
Chuck Bednarik, the last genuine two-way player in the NFL, is ranked No. 60 on this year’s list. The Philadelphia Eagles selected him first overall in the 1949 NFL draft, and he spent his whole 14-year career with the team. The Pennsylvania native excelled at both center and linebacker. Bednarik was a two-time NFL champion, an eight-time Pro Bowler, and a 10-time All-Pro selection, with his hit on Frank Gifford in 1960 being one of the most memorable tackles in NFL history, keeping Gifford out of the game for a year and a half.
Bill George (no. 61)
Bill George started his professional career as a nose guard but is most remembered for being one of the first genuine middle linebackers of all time. He spent 14 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears (he ended his career with the Los Angeles Rams). He added 14 extra points and four field goals to his total. George was an eight-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time First-Team All-Pro pick in addition to being a one-time NFL champion.
Jim Langer, No. 62
Jim Langer, who spent 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins and two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, is our pick at No. 62. Langer was one of just five Dolphins to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, winning back-to-back Super Bowls and playing every down during the team’s undefeated 1972 season. He was a six-time All-Pro pick and a six-time Pro Bowler.
Gene Upshaw, No. 63
GOLDEN HALL OF FAME Gene Upshaw was born on this day in the year 1945. The Class of 1987 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. For the @Raiders, he played 15 seasons. The first player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame only for playing Guard. pic.twitter.com/zLrypmPiUN
August 15, 2018 — Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF)
It was difficult to choose No. 63. We considered Hall of Fame linebacker Willie Lanier for this position, but in the end, we went with iconic Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Gene Upshaw. The two-time Super Bowl winner was a six-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time All-Pro pick. He is still the only player in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl with the same club in three separate decades.
Randall McDaniel, No. 64
We considered many candidates for No. 64, including veteran Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Jerry Kramer, but selected renowned Minnesota Vikings left guard Randall McDaniel instead. McDaniel, who was drafted 19th overall in the 1988 NFL draft out of Arizona State, played 14 seasons in the league, 12 with the Minnesota Vikings and two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was named to the Pro Bowl 12 times in a row, matching an NFL record, was a nine-time First-Team All-Pro, and only missed two games in his whole career.
Gary Zimmerman, No. 65
The decision at No. 65 was the most difficult on this section of our list. We gave Tom Mack and Elvin Bethea a serious look, but in the end, we went with Hall of Fame offensive lineman Gary Zimmerman, who played two seasons in the USFL after graduating from Oregon and went on to play a twelve NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos. Zimmerman was a seven-time Pro Bowler, an eight-time All-Pro pick, and helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 32 at the end of his 12-year career.
Ray Nitschke, No. 66
Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers | Getty Images
Ray Nitschke, a renowned Green Bay Packers linebacker and one of the most hard-hitting athletes of his age, is our No. 66 pick. Nitschke was a third-round selection out of Illinois in 1958 and spent his entire 15-year NFL career in Green Bay, where he helped the Packers win five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. He was the only linebacker to be named to the NFL’s 50th and 75th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
Bob Kuechenberg, No. 67
Bob Kuechenberg, the second offensive tackle on our list to play for the Miami Dolphins during their perfect season, is our No. 67 pick. Kuechenberg, who played offensive and defensive line at Notre Dame, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 1969 NFL draft, but he never played a down for the team since he opted to play one season with the Continental Football League’s Chicago Owls. In 1970, he signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins. Kuechenberg spent his entire 14-year NFL career with the Dolphins, where he was a two-time Super Bowl winner, six-time Pro Bowler, and three-time All-Pro pick.
Will Shields, No. 68
Will Shields, a former Kansas City Chiefs right guard, is our pick for No. 68. He is one of just four Hall of Famers to ever wear the number. Shields, a third-round pick out of Nebraska in the 1993 NFL draft, started 223 games for the Chiefs over 14 seasons, a club record, and never missed one game in his whole career. He was a 12-time Pro Bowler and seven-time All-Pro pick, and was named Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2003.
Jared Allen (No. 69)
We finish off this week’s episode with our No. 69 pick, defensive end Jared Allen, who spent 12 seasons with the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears, and Panthers. Allen was a five-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro pick, and a two-time sacks leader. He was also a five-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro selection, and a two-time sacks leader. With 136 sacks, he is now tied for 16th on the all-time record.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
The NFL is a unique league in that most of its history is documented by a number rather than a name. The first NFL player to get a uniform number was George Halas, who was so impressed by the Chicago Bears that he signed his team to play under the name “Halas and Company.” That team is now remembered for its “Halas” and “Harpster” cheerleaders, but the franchise’s first official number was 12. A number’s history is often much longer than that of a player, though. Here is a list of the top 100 NFL players by uniform number.. Read more about nfl players with number 97 and let us know what you think.
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