Friday

NFL Athlete Number 50 - Mike Singletary

"Samurai Mike", Mike Singletary is the best NFL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 50. He's also our pick as the best professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 50. So what do you need to know about Mike Singletary as an NFL athlete? Why is he on this list for number 50?

  • 10 time Pro Bowler (consecutive)
  • 1,488 career tackles
  • 9 time All Pro
  • 2 time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1985, 1988)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame (Class of 1998)
  • 1985 Super Bowl Champion (XX)
  • 172 games started as a Chicago Bear

Did you know.........Mike Singletary had two fumble recoveries in Super Bowl XX?

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Thursday

NFL Athlete Number 49 - Bobby Mitchell

A Pro Football Hall of Famer, inducted in 1983, Bobby Mitchell is also the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 49.

Taken with the 84th overall pick in the 1958 NFL draft out of Illinois by the Cleveland Browns, Mitchell went immediately into action in the backfield. He was teamed with the incomparable Jim Brown, to create one of the most potent running attacks in NFL history.

Not only was Mitchell a threat in the backfield however, he was also a threat when returning punts and kicks. Over his 11 year NFL career (first four with the Browns, final seven with the Redskins), Mitchell had 699 punt return yards with three touchdowns, and 2,690 kick return yards with 5 touchdowns.

His most impressive statistics however, came as a receiver. Mitchell led the NFL in receiving yards in both 1962 and 1963 (with 1384 and 1436 yards respectively). For his career he amassed 7,954 receiving yards and 65 receiving TDs.

  • 5 time All Pro
  • 4 time Pro Bowler
  • 1962 NFL reception leader (72)
  • 1964 NFL receiving TD leader (10)
  • 91 career touchdowns
  • Pro Football Hall of Famer

Did you know.......Mitchell scored a touchdown on a kick return each year from 1960 through 1963?

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Saturday

NFL Athlete Number 48 - Daryl "Moose" Johnston

Also our pick for the best professional athlete to ever wear the uniform number 48, Daryl "Moose" Johnston is certainly the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 48.

As one of this blog's comments states, "Moose is the reason that Emmitt Smith is on this list". If that's not 100% accurate, Moose's blocking certainly is one of the reasons that Emmitt is the best professional athlete to ever wear the uniform number 22.

Moose was drafted 39th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1989 NFL draft, out of Syracuse. He made an immediate impact as fullback for the Cowboys during his rookie year. Not only could he block, but he also caught the ball well out of the backfield. He racked up 133 yards and 3 receiving TDs during the 1989 NFL season.

During his eleven year NFL career, spent entirely with the Dallas Cowboys, Johnston racked up 2,227 receiving yards, 14 receiving TDs, 753 rushing yards, and 8 rushing TDs. His biggest contribution during his career however, cannot be measured as a statistic. It was the defenders he took on, and the holes he helped create, so that Emmitt Smith could go on to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher.

Did you know......Moose won three Super Bowl rings while with the Dallas Cowboys?

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NFL Athlete Number 47 - Mel Blount

Mel Blount, the longtime cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 47.

Blount was taken with the 53rd overall pick in the 1970 NFL draft, out of Southern University, by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He wound up playing his entire NFL career (between 1970 and 1983) with the Steelers.

  • 6 time All Pro
  • 5 time Pro Bowler
  • 57 career interceptions
  • 736 career interception yards
  • 13 career fumble recoveries
  • 1975 NFL leader in interceptions (11)
  • 1989 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee
  • 4 time Super Bowl champion
  • 1976 Pro Bowl MVP

Did you know......Mel Blount was ranked number 36 on the Sporting News list of the 100 greatest NFL players in 1999?

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Monday

NFL Athlete Number 46 - Lou Groza

Okay, this was a tough NFL jersey number to pick. There are some NFL athletes whose number has always been (or primarily been) number 46. However, there is also a Pro Football Hall of Famer who wore the jersey number 46 for six years of his stellar career. That Hall of Famer is Lou Groza, and he wore the number 46 between the years of 1946 and 1951.

Groza was a both an offensive lineman and placekicker during his NFL career. Between the years of 1946 and 1959 Groza was a center (rookie season),a tackle and a kicker. From 1961 to 1967 he kicked for the Cleveland Browns. Groza played his entire NFL career with the Cleveland Browns.

It has been speculated that the Browns changed their uniform numbers between the years of 1951 and 1952 seasons to conform with the NFL's numbering system for uniforms. Groza switched his number around this time frame from 46 to 76. You might be interested to know that Groza is also our pick for the best professional athlete to ever wear the uniform number 76.

  • 1974 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 10 time All Pro
  • 9 time Pro Bowler
  • Led league in points scored twice (1946 and 1957)
  • Led league in field goals six times (1946, '50, '52, '53, '54, and '57)
  • 4 time NFL Champion
  • 268 career games played

Did you know......Groza's other uniform number, 76, is retired by the Cleveland Browns?

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Sunday

NFL Athlete Number 45 - Emlen Tunnell

Have you ever heard of Emlen Tunnell? If not, you'll know of him now. He's the best NFL athlete to have ever worn the jersey number 45, and he is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Tunnell played two primary positions during his NFL career (punt and kick returner and defensive back - mostly safety). Tunnell played fourteen years in the NFL, between 1948 and 1961, primarily as a New York Giant. He also spent three years at the end of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. What did he achieve in his fourteen year Hall of Fame career?

  • 9 time Pro Bowler
  • 8 time All Pro
  • 79 career interceptions
  • 1,282 career interception return yards
  • 2,217 career punt return yards
  • 1949 league leader for INTs returned for TDs (2)
  • 1952 league leader for fumbles recoverd (6)
  • 100 yard kick return in 1951
  • Twice led league in non-offensive TDs (1949 and 1951)
  • 1967 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 1956 NFL Champion with the New York Giants
  • 1961 NFL Champion with the Green Bay Packers

Tunnell was an undrafted free agent out of Iowa.

Did you know......that Tunnell broke his neck at the University of Toledo, before moving on to play at Iowa?

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Saturday

NFL Athlete Number 44 - Leroy Kelly

Hall of Fame running back Leroy Kelly is the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 44. Coming to the NFL in 1964 after being taken in the eighth round of the draft, out of Morgan State, Kelly was not an immediate superstar in professional football. He was only given the ball six times. He gained twelve yards on those six carries. There was this guy by the name of Jim Brown ahead of him on the depth chart at running back. He did, however, return one punt for a touchdown during his rookie year.

In his second NFL year, Kelly was primarily a return man, but also carried the football from the backfield several more times (37 carries for 139 yards). He doubled his punt return touchdowns from his rookie season, scoring two.

The retirement of all-time great running back Jim Brown gave Kelly the opportunity he needed to strut his stuff as a running back. In 1966, Kelly rushed 209 times for 1,141 yards and a league-leading 15 rushing touchdowns. He followed that year up with another year leading the league in rushing touchdowns with 11, and rushing yards with 1,205. What did he do the following year? Lead the league, of course. He had 16 rushing touchdowns in 1968 to go along with a league-best 1,239 rushing yards.


  • 6-time Pro Bowler

  • 5-time All Pro

  • 1994 Hall of Fame Inductee

  • Led NFL in rushing yards twice

  • Led NFL in rushing TDs three times

  • Most yards per punt return in 1965 (15.6)

  • 1968 NFL leader in points scored (120)

  • 74 career touchdowns

  • 7,274 career rushing yards

Did you know......Leroy Kelly spent his entire career with the Cleveland Browns (1964 - 1973)?

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Friday

NFL Athlete Number 43 - Don Perkins

Don Perkins, the running back who played his entire NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, is the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 43.

Although Perkins was drafted by the Colts in the 1960 NFL draft, he had previously signed with the Cowboys before they were granted a franchise. The Cowboys kept Perkins and the Colts were awarded a draft pick as compensation.

Perkins played in all 14 games of his rookie season, rushing for 815 yards and 4 TDs. He also caught 32 passes for 298 yards and 1 TD that season of 1961. Perkins would continue racking up the rushing yardage over his eight year career, eventually becoming the first Dallas Cowboy to rush for 6,000 yards. He currently ranks third on the Cowboys' all-time rushing yardage list (behind Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett), with 6,217 career rushing yards.


  • 42 career regular season rushing touchdowns

  • 6,217 career regular season rushing yards

  • 6 time Pro Bowler (1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, and 1968)

  • 4 time All Pro (1961, 1962, 1967 and 1968)

  • Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor

Did you know......Don Perkins played both halfback and fullback as a Cowboy?

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Thursday

NFL Athlete Number 42 - Ronnie Lott

The NFL uniform number 42 is one of the most renowned numbers in professional football history. The pick for the greatest NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 42 could have gone to one of four Hall of Famers who wore 42 as their primary uniform number. Those four men are: Ronnie Lott, Sid Luckman, Charley Taylor and Paul Warfield. Forced to choose, we pick Ronnie Lott as the best NFL athlete to ever wear uniform number 42.

Ronnie was selected in the 1981 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers out of USC, with the eighth overall pick in the draft. Ronnie's career in the NFL started off with a bang, as he started sixteen games for the 49ers at cornerback, eventually finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting to future Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. That rookie year, Lott recorded seven interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.

Lott would play four full seasons at cornerback before switching to free saftey during his fifth year in the NFL (1985). Lott would play 14 seasons in the NFL; 10 with the 49ers, 2 with the Jets and 2 with the Raiders. For his career he had 63 interceptions returned for 730 yards and five touchdowns. He made an impressive 1,113 career tackles.

  • 10 time Pro Bowler

  • 9 time All Pro

  • 4 time Super Bowl Champion (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV)

  • Twice led NFL in interceptions (1986 and 1991)

  • Number 23 on The Sporting News' List of 100 Greatest NFL Players in 1999


Lott was known for his ferocious hitting and hard-nosed style of play in the NFL.



Did you know.......Lott's uniform number 42 is retired by the 49ers?




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Wednesday

NFL Athlete Number 41 - Terrence Newman

Not one of the most prominent numbers worn in NFL history, the best NFL athlete to wear the uniform number 41 is Terrence Newman, cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys.

The fifth overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft out of Kanas State University, Newman made an immediate impact in the NFL, starting at left cornerback for the Cowboys all sixteen games as a rookie. That rookie season of 2003, Newman had four interceptions, 66 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles.

In his first five seasons in the NFL, Newman has accumulated 16 interceptions for 211 yards and one touchdown. In 2007, he had his longest interception return of 70 yards. Over that same time period, Newman has had 286 tackles.

Newman has also returned punts for the Cowboys since 2004. To date he has amassed 296 punt return yards and one touchdown on a punt return.

Newman was selected to the Pro Bowl for the 2007 NFL season.

Did you know.......that Terrence Newman won the Jim Thorpe award in 2002 given the nation's top collegiate defensive back?



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Tuesday

NFL Athlete Number 40 - Gale Sayers

Gale Sayers, "The Kansas Comet", is the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 40. Sayers was taken with the fourth overall pick by the Chicago Bears in the 1965 NFL draft. Interestingly, Dick Butkus was taken by the Bears with the third overall pick in the same draft, with a selection the Bears acquired from the Steelers.

Sayers lived up to his nickname in his rookie season with the Bears, scoring 22 total touchdowns in 1965 (14 rushing, 6 receiving, 1 punt return and 1 kickoff return). His second season as a Bear was almost as phenomenal as his fist. In 1966 Sayers led the NFL in rushing with 1,231 yards, and 8 rushing touchdowns. He had 1,678 yards from scrimmage in 1966.

Sayers career was cut short by knee injuries, and he was able to display his exceptional talent for five full seasons in the NFL.


  • 4 time Pro Bowler (1965, 1966, 1967 and 1969)

  • 5 time All Pro (1965 to 1969)

  • 3 time Pro Bowl MVP

  • 4,956 career regular season rushing yards

  • 1,307 career regular season receiving yards

  • 48 career regular season touchdowns from scrimmage

  • 2 career punt return touchdowns and 6 career kickoff return touchdowns

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1977

Did you know........Gale Sayers' uniform number 40 has been retired by the Chicago Bears?



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Monday

NFL Athlete Number 39 - Larry Csonka

A fullback of tremendous size for his time (reportedly 6'3" and 237 lbs.), Larry Csonka is the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 39.

Csonka was drafted with the eighth overall draft pick, out of Syracuse, in the 1968 draft. During Csonka's rookie season with the Miami Dolphins he suffered two concussions, a broken nose and a cracked eardrum. It was a rough start to a career that would eventually become legendary.

Larry was a bruising fullback, leading the Dolphins feared rushing attack in the early 1970s. During the 1972 regular season, Csonka teamed with Mercury Morris to gain 2,117 rushing yards (1,117 by Csonka and 1,000 by Morris), en route to the the first (and currently only) perfect NFL season (17-0).

Csonka rushed for over 1,000 yards each year between 1971 and 1973.

  • 5 time Pro Bowler (1970 to 1974)
  • Super Bowl VIII MVP
  • 2 time Super Bowl Champion (VII and VIII)
  • 8,081 career regular season rushing yards
  • 64 career regular season rushing touchdowns
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1987

Csonka left the NFL in 1975 to play with the WFL Memphis Southmen. After the WFL folded half-way through it's second season, Csonka joined the New York Giants where he would play for three seasons. Csonka would finish out his career with one last season as a Miami Dolphin in 1979, rushing for 837 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Did you know.........Larry Csonka's uniform number 39 is retired by the Miami Dolphins?


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Sunday

NFL Athlete Number 38 - Arnie Herber

The greatest NFL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 38 is Arnie Herber. Arnie Herber, born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, appropriately played his first eleven professional football seasons (1930 to 1940) with the Green Bay Packers.

As a rookie quarterback for the Pack in 1930, Herber threw a touchdown pass in his first game to lead his team to a 7-0 win. It was an excellent start to a Hall of Fame career for the quarterback from Green Bay.

The NFL did not officially keep statistics until 1932. In that year, Herber won the passing title. He would also win the passing title in 1934 and 1936.

After retiring from the Packers after the 1940 season, Herber came back and finished his career playing two years with the New York Giants in 1944 and 1945.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.

Did you know........Arnie Herber led the league in blocked punts in 1939?

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Saturday

NFL Athlete Number 37 - Doak Walker

Not only is Doak Walker our pick for the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 37, he is also our pick for the best professional athlete to ever wear the uniform number 37. Taken int he 1949 NFL draft out of SMU, Doak was primarily a halfback during his six year NFL career for the Detroit Lions, however, he also kicked, punted, threw, and played defense. With that type of versatility it would have been amazing to watch Doak perform at the NFL combine of today.

Some of the highlights from Doak's NFL career:

  • 5 time Pro Bowler (1950, 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955)
  • 5 time All Pro (same years as above)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1986
  • Scored winning TD in 1952 NFL title game
  • Led NFL in scoring in 1950 and 1955
  • Led NFL in Point After Touchdowns in 1951 and 1954 (yes, he was also a kicker)
  • 1950 NFL Rookie of the Year

There is a collegiate football award named after Doak Walker, given to the top collegiate running back in the nation.

Did you know.........that Doak won both the Maxwell Award and the Heisman Trophy as a collegiate football player?



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Wednesday

NFL Athlete Number 36 - Jerome Bettis

This number may one day belong to Brian Westbrook, but for now, the uniform number 36 belongs to the one, the only, the "Bus", Jerome Bettis.

Bettis was taken with the tenth overall pick in the 1993 NFL draft out of Notre Dame. After spending his first three NFL seasons with the Rams, he made his mark on history playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers between the years of 1996 and 2005. During his thirteen year NFL career, Bettis achieved quite a bit.

  • 6 time Pro Bowler (1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2004)
  • 3 time All Pro selection (1993, 1996, and 1997)
  • 94 career touchdowns (regular season)
  • 13,662 career rushing yards (regular season)
  • AP NFL Rookie of the Year (1993)
  • Super Bowl XL Champion

Did you know.........that Bettis rushed for an average 5.7 yards per carry during his college career at Notre Dame?


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Tuesday

NFL Athlete Number 35 - Pete Pihos

Pete Pihos played his entire professional football career with the Philadelphia Eagles, between the years of 1947 to 1955. Taken out of Indiana with the 41st pick in the 1945 draft, Pete Pihos played his way to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career, and our selection as the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 35.


  • 6-time Pro Bowler (1950 through 1955)

  • NFL's 1940's All Decade team

  • 1970 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee

  • Led NFL in receiving between 1953 and 1955

  • Two-time NFL champion (1948 and 1949)

  • 373 career receptions (regular season)

  • 5,619 career receiving yards (regular season)

  • 61 career receiving touchdowns (regular season)

Did you know.....that although Pete Pihos was drafted in 1945, he could not play with the Eagles until 1947 due to military service?

See pictures of Pete Pihos football cards here.



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