Sports Illustrated came up with a little numbers game last week that instantly
made for a fun sports argument: Who is the greatest player by jersey number
in NFL history?
Some on SI's lists -- 00-49 can be found here, and 50-99 here -- are obvious. Jim Brown is No. 32, and who else but
Jerry Rice could be No. 80?
But others warrant immediate instant replay. Gale Sayers over Mike Haynes
for No. 40? Not so sure about that, and we always cry at "Brian's
Song." Tim Brown over Randy Moss at No. 81? Definitely not so sure about
that one, either.
The Patriots acknowledged on SI's list are Tom Brady (No. 12) and John Hannah (No. 73), while New England short-timers Keith Byars (No. 41) and Junior Seau (No. 55) are chosen for their success that happened mostly elsewhere.
That got us thinking, in our usual parochial sort of way, and all of a
sudden we found ourselves twisting and tweaking SI's question to look like
Who are the greatest players by jersey number in Patriots history? Hannah,
Brady, Haynes, and Andre Tippett (No. 56) were no-brainers. But other
numbers -- there haven't been many quality 5s and 9s in franchise history
-- were vexing. So here's our list, from 1 (John Smith) to 99 (Mike Wright). Argue among yourselves, and be sure to weigh in on the polls along the way.