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Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday.
Well, it’s that time of year … mid-June and no football. So what can I write about while also keeping in mind most people are enjoying a summer vacation and are probably opting to golf, camp, or go boating than visit Profootballhof.com.
I thought I’d play off of today’s date and focus on the No. 23.
It’s apparently not a uniform number destined for greatness. Only one member of the Hall of Fame has worn the number 23 during his career. That was Guy Chamberlin who wore it for just two seasons with the Chicago Bears in the early 1920s. His primary number during his career was the No. 13.
Number 23 also remains a jersey number that has never been retired by any NFL team. So, the question begs who was the greatest player ever to wear No. 23 (as their main number). Here’s seven (got to stay with a football theme) who should at least receive consideration.
PAUL LOWE was the main ball carrier for the Chargers during the 1960s. He is the first player in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season when he gained 1,010 yards in 1963. Lowe played for the Chargers from the team’s inception in Los Angeles in 1960 through 1968 before finishing his career in Kansas City. He wore No. 26 with the Chiefs.
Another star of the AFL was the Denver Broncos GOOSE GONSOULIN who had 46 interceptions in his career that spanned from 1960-67 including one last year in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
Safety TROY VINCENT spent 15 seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins. He wore No. 23 in each of those stops during a 305-game career in which he accumulated 50 career interceptions for 711 yards including three pick-sixes.
The Redskins had a pair of players I’d add to the list in long-time DB BRIG OWENS who intercepted 36 passes during his career in Washington from 1966-1977; and current cornerback DeANGELO HALL who had a memorable day last year with 4 interceptions returned for scores in one game.
DON McCAULEY was a productive running back for the Baltimore Colts from 1971 to 1981. While he only gained 2,627 career rushing yards (he actually had more receiving yards), the short-yardage specialist did find the end zone 57 times during his career (40 rushing, 17 receiving).
We can’t forget the electrifying DEVIN HESTER who ranks as one of the all-time great punt and kickoff returners who now also complements that with his play at receiver.
Some other notable No. 23’s include Blaine Bishop, Ronnie Brown, Ted Brown, Kenneth Davis, Shaun Gayle, Mel Gray, Travis Williams, Sammy Winder, and Barry Word.
Of course, I’m always looking for comments to my blog so go ahead and add to my list of great No. 23’s. Or better yet, cast your vote for the best No. 23 of all-time.