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Best Players To Wear Every Number

Part 3: Numbers 20-29

The Pug (Anthony Pugliese) takes a look at the best players in NFL history to wear every number from 0(00) up to 99. In the third part of a ten part series, The Pug tells you who the best players in NFL history to wear jersey numbers 20-29 were(or are).

If you missed the first two parts, click the links below to see 0-19

Numbers 0-9                                                         Numbers 10-19

 

#20: Barry Sanders, Running Back: Considered by many to be the greatest running back of all time, Sanders found success in Detroit from day one. He earned Rookie of the Year honors after rushing for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sanders was quite possibly the most elusive running back ever. His small statue was never an issue as defenders had a hard time squaring him up.  Sanders led the league in rushing on four separate occasions during his ten year career and made the Pro Bowl in every year of his career. Due to the losing culture of the Detroit Lions, Barry felt he lost his competitive edge and retired early finding himself healthy and 1,457 yards away from Walter Payton’s NFL rushing record. His average yards per carry(5.0) and yards per game(99.8) were  second only to Jim Brown. His 15,269 yards rushing and 109 combined touchdowns earned him a seat in Canton in 2004.                      Honorable Mention: Ed Reed

#21: Deion Sanders, Cornerback: The first defensive player to make the list is considered by many to be the best corner to ever play the game. ‘Primetime’ as he was nicknamed was much more than just an excellent corner with 53 career interceptions, he was also an all-pro returner. He won two Super Bowl’s during his career, one with the San Francisco 49ers and another with the Dallas Cowboys. Sanders was named to an astonishing eight all-pro teams, and was the recipient of both the Defensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year awards during his career. Neon Deion(another nickname) played for five teams during his Hall of Fame career(Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens were the others). Football wasn’t all for Deion as he also played nine seasons of professional baseball that included a World Series appearance with the Atlanta Braves. Honorable Mention: Ladainian Tomlinson

#22: Emmitt Smith, Running Back: The NFL’s all-time leading rusher easily finds himself as the best player to sport the number 22. Smith held the rushing title four times while playing for the Cowboys and was also a huge part of the Cowboys winning three Super Bowls in the 90’s. Smith ranks first in NFL history for touchdowns by a running back with 164 and recorded 11 straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons. He is the only running back ever to win the rushing crown, win MVP, win the Super Bowl, and take home Super Bowl MVP honors all in the same season. One of the best running backs in NFL history saw his efforts honored in 2010 when he was accepted into the Hall of Fame. Smith is currently one of two non-kickers to record over 1,000 points in his career. Jerry Rice was the other. Honorable Mention: Paul Krause

#23: Devin Hester, Kick Returner/Wide Receiver: Tough decision here as Devin Hester had minimal contribution on the offense, but he was(is) arguably the best return man in NFL history. He may just be remembered as the last great return man, as new NFL safety rules are making it harder and harder for return specialist to become a dominant force in the league. ‘The Windy City Flyer’ as he was referred to in Chicago, was named Special Teams Player of the Year three times. Hester holds NFL record for return touchdowns in a season with six, career punt returns with 14, and career special teams touchdowns with 20. He had five return touchdowns alone in his rookie year, and could still add to his career numbers since he is an active member of the Atlanta Falcons roster. Honorable Mention: Troy Vincent

#24: Champ Bailey, Cornerback: A first round pick for the Washington Redskins, Champ enjoyed a fine career as a member of the Redskins and the Broncos. Bailey notched 52 career interceptions, including a stellar stellar 2006 campaign that saw him intercept 10 passes. He was a Pro Bowler in 12 of his 15 seasons in the league, the most ever by a cornerback. Bailey is also the youngest player in NFL history to intercept three passes in one game. Bailey retired a member of the Denver Broncos and was named to their 50th anniversary team. He technically retired in 2014 and will be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame in 2019 when he is eligible.                                             Honorable Mention: Willie Brown

#25: Fred Biletnikoff, Wide Receiver: Drafted by the Lions in the NFL draft and the Raiders in the AFL draft, Biletnikoff wound up signing with the Raiders where he spent his entire 14 year professional career. In an era where wide receivers had a tougher times due to different rules, Biletnikoff had an impressive 76 touchdown catches. Fred won Super Bowl XI with the Oakland Raiders and was named MVP of the game. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1988. From 1989-2007, Biletnikoff stayed in the league as the long -time wide receivers coach for the Raiders. Biletnikoff has an award named after him in college football, the Fred Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to the best wide receiver in college football. Honorable Mention: Jamaal Charles

#26: Rod Woodson, Cornerback, Safety: Drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Woodson also played for the 49ers, Ravens, and Raiders. Woodson hold the NFL record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns with 12 and ranks third all time in NFL history with 71 career interceptions. Rod was also the first player to be elected to the Pro Bowl at three different positions cornerback, safety, and kick returner. 2009 saw Woodson elected to the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility. The 11 time Pro Bowler now spends his days as the assistant defensive backs coach of the Oakland Raiders. Honorable Mention: Herb Adderley

#27: Steve Atwater, Safety: Good luck finding a harder hitting safety. Don’t believe me? YouTube his hit against Chiefs running back Christian Okoye. Atwater routinely punished opposing ball carriers for the Broncos for ten seasons before finishing up his career with the New York Jets. A member of the Broncos Ring of Honor, Atwater was the defensive anchor for the Broncos, who won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII with him patrolling the defensive backfield. Atwater has been discussed as a Hall of Fame candidate, even being a finalist this year, but has yet to get his invitation to Canton. Honorable Mention: Eddie George

#28: Marshall Faulk, Running Back: Toughest decision of the series so far. Went with Faulk because he was a better receiver than the below mentioned honorable mention. Faulk scored 136 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns between the Colts and Rams over the course of a 12 year career. His first three seasons with the Rams he played absolutely out of his head rushing for 4,122 yards, 2,643 yards receiving and 59 touchdowns. His was a major part of the success of ‘the greatest show on turf’ and enjoyed a Super Bowl victory with St. Louis. Marshall is one of only three players to reach 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving, finishing his career with 12,279 and 6,879 respectively.  Faulk was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011, and is currently an analyst for the NFL Network. Honorable Mention: Curtis Martin

#29: Eric Dickerson, Running Back: Eric wasted no time letting everyone know who he was upon entering the NFL. The second overall pick in the 1983 NFL draft ran for 1,808 yards and 18 touchdowns(20 total), easily earning him the NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Apparently Dickerson wasn’t satisfied with those numbers though, as he used his second year to break numerous records. In 1984 Dickerson ran for 2,105 yards, an NFL record that still stands today. Then in 1985 he broke the NFL record for rushing yards in a playoff game when he took the Dallas Cowboys for 248 yards. After seeing injury and contract disputes disrupt his torrid pace toward the end of his career, he retired holding numerous rushing records. Dickerson was invited to join the crew in Canton in 1999, finishing his career with 13,259 rushing yards and 90 rushing touchdowns. Honorable Mention: Harold Jackson

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