A player is recognizable by his style of play, his personality, his physique… but also his number. Sign of a strong attachment, players often keep the same number (if possible) when they change teams, and it sometimes becomes a communication tool.
During 99 episodes, we will talk about the best players by number in the NFL. With each time a holder and a substitute.
In this 96th episode, a faithful player even in a dark period.
Starter: Cortez Kennedy (TD, Seattle Seahawks 1990-2000)
Chosen by the Seahawks as the third pick of the 1990 draft, Cortez Kennedy had a rich career in a franchise in total distress in the 90s. The proof? He was defender of the year in 1992, while the franchise only won two matches over the whole season!
He will only play one playoff game in his career, limiting his influence like a Calvin Johnson (all other things being equal). However, his dominance in the position for 10 years allowed him to obtain a significant individual record: defender of the year therefore, but also five times All Pro, eight times Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer.
Loyal among the faithful, he has his jersey retired in Seattle, and his sudden death in 2017 deeply affected a fan base that had only him as hope in the 90s. A symbol therefore, and a tribute with our place of incumbent.
Replacement: Clyde Simmons (DL, Philadelphia Eagles 1986-93, Arizona Cardinals 1994-95, Jacksonville Jaguars 1996-97, Cincinnati Bengals 1998, Chicago Bears 1999-2000)
In an overall weak number, the replacement spot goes to a player whose statistical impact made him a mainstay of the late 80s and early 90s. Chosen in the 9th round of the draft by the Eagles, Simmons has grown in power year after year to the point of becoming a centerpiece of a defense that has gone down in history: the 1991 Eagles.
1991 and 1992 are also the peak of his career, since these two years are the two that bring him selections All Pro and Pro Bowls. Author of 121.5 sacks in career, he shone more by his regularity than by his domination, however sufficient to be a good substitute.
Mentions: Adalius Thomas (LB), Gary Walker (DL), Alex Brown (DE), Carlos Dunlap (DE), Muhammad Wilkerson (DT), James Hall (DE)