Saturday

Athlete Number 81 - Dick (Night Train) Lane

So nicknamed because of his affinity for Buddy Morrow's hit record, Dick "Night Train" Lane is the best professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 81. A 1974 enshrinee into the Professional Football Hall of Fame, Lane came to be an NFL player by asking the Los Angeles Rams for a tryout, at the age of 24, after dissatisfaction with his occupation at an aircraft factory.

That request for a tryout with the Rams proved to be an excellent career move for Dick Lane. He parlayed that tryout to a starting position with the Rams' defense. He subsequently went on to set a record in his rookie season with fourteen interceptions. Initially sloted to become an end, Lane was given the jersey number 81, which he continued to wear in his eventual position of defensive back.

Although he began his career with the Rams, Lane was traded to the Chicago Cardinals soon after, and then went on to the Detroit Lions, where he enjoyed much of his success. He was so successful in fact, that in 1999, The Sporting News named Lane number 19 on the list of the NFL's 100 greatest players.



Did you know..........Dick Lane spent four years in the United States Army?

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Tuesday

Athlete Number 80 - Jerry Rice

The best wide receiver in NFL history. Hands down. Jerry Rice is the best wide receiver ever, and also the best professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 80. Yes, you may know Mr. Rice from that dancing show, where he moved his feet fairly well. You should know him from moving his feet well on the gridiron. In fact, Jerry danced his way into a sure Pro Football Hall of Fame selection. A unanimous selection without question.

Jerry holds numerous NFL statistical records. A few of the more impressive records are:

  • 1st in career touchdowns - 207
  • 1st in touchdown receptions - 197
  • 1st in career yards gained - 23,546
  • 1st in career receptions - 1,549
  • 1st in 1,000+ yards receiving seasons - 14
  • 1st in 100+ yards receiving games - 76

Jerry is also a thirteen time Pro Bowl selection and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXIII.

Did you know.....Jerry Rice played his college ball at Mississippi Valley State?

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Saturday

Athlete Number 79 - Roosevelt Brown


A thirteen year starter at offensive tackle, drafted in 1953 by the New York Giants, and a Pro Football Hall of Famer, Roosevelt Brown is the best professional athlete to wear the jersey number 79. "Rosey," as he was affectionately known, was an agile blocker who helped lead the Giants against the Bears in the 1956 NFL Championship game (pre-SuperBowl days.) He was so effective in fact that he was honored as the Lineman of the Game. A few more of Mr. Brown's accolades:


  • Eight straight All-NFL years (1956-1963)

  • Played in nine Pro Bowls

  • 1956 NFL lineman of the year

  • Won six divisional titles and one NFL title with the Giants

  • 1975 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Did you know.......when Roosevelt Brown started out with the Giants he had a 29 inch waist!?


(photo courtesy of profootballhof.com)


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Thursday

Athlete Number 78 - Bruce Smith

As a lock to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame, when he becomes eligible in 2009, Bruce Smith is the best professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 78. Bruce currently holds the career record for quarterback sacks with an amazing 200. Although he finished up his career with the Redskins, Bruce Smith is recognized as a longtime feared defender for the Buffalo Bills. He was the number 1 draft pick overall in the 1985 NFL draft and quickly established himself as deserving of that high pick. In 1986 Bruce put up a gaudy 15 sacks. Only a few years later in 1990, he went on to his best season ever with 19 sacks. He kept up a fairly good pace, racking up double-digit sack years several times. The man was the sack machine of the NFL. Here are some of his creds:

  • All-time NFL Sack Leader (200)
  • 11-time Pro-Bowler (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/)
  • Buffalo Bills Sack Leader (171)
  • 1987 Pro Bowl MVP
  • AFC Defensive Player of the Year four times (1987, 1988, 1990, 1996)

Did you know......Bruce Smith is a 2006 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame?


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Wednesday

Athlete Number 77 - Ray Bourque

It really is kind of a shame that he won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, and not as a member of the team he spent most of his career with, the Boston Bruins. Nevertheless, Ray Bourque is our choice for the best professional athlete to wear the number 77. Some of Ray's accomplishments include:

  • Calder Memorial Trophy Winner (1978-79)
  • Frank J. Selke Award Winner (1978-79)
  • The Sporting News NHL Rookie of the Year (1978-79)
  • Set NHL record for most goals by a defenseman at 410
  • Five-time Norris Trophy Winner (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1994)
  • 1579 career points

Did you know.....Ray's NHL jersey number 77 is retired by both the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche?

(photo courtesy of nhl.com)

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Tuesday

Athlete Number 76 - Lou Groza


An offensive lineman who placekicks? No way, not in this day and age. However.....Lou Groza, the best professional athlete to wear the jersey number 76, did just that in the 40s and 50s, while becoming a kicking specialist in the 60s.
  • Six-time All-NFL tackle

  • 1954 NFL Player of The Year

  • Nine-time Pro-Bowler

  • Participated in nine NFL Title Games and four AAFC title games

  • 1974 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Last of the "original" 1946 Browns to retire

Did you know......Lou's nickname was "The Toe?"

(photo courtesy of lougrozaaward.com)


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Monday

Athlete Number 75 - Howie Long

The Villanova University alumnus and longtime Oakland and Los Angeles Raider, Howie Long, is the best professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 75. Howie, who was drafted in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft, went on to an illustrious career as a defensive end with the Raiders, spanning the years 1981 to 1993.

Howie was selected to eight Pro Bowls, four All-AFC teams and was named an All-Pro in 1983, 1984 and 1985. According to profootballhof.com, Howie had a career mark of 84 sacks which does not include 7.5 sacks made in 1981 because it was not an official statistic at that time.
Long was named the 1985 co-NFL defensive player of the year. He is also a member of the NFL's 1980s all-decade team. As a young member of the Raiders, Howie helped the team capture the Super Bowl title during the 1983 season with a 38-9 victory of the Washington Redskins.

Did you know.....Howie had five sacks in one game in 1983?
(image courtesy of profootballhof.com)

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