Saturday, March 6, 2010

Favorites By The Number…Part Four

It has been a little while since I have added to my lists of favorite athletes. My first three columns covered those who wore uniforms featuring the numbers 1 through 60. This column takes a look at those who wore numbers 61 through 80. It should be noted that I lied when I said they are all going to be football players. Some hockey player named Jagr snuck in there.

#61 - Curley Culp, Kansas City Chiefs. Culp was a standout defensive tackle for the Chiefs of the late 1960s and early 70s. Plus, he shares the first name with one of the Three Stooges. Nuk, Nuk, Nuk.

#62 - Matt Brock, Green Bay Packers. Another defensive lineman. Brock played for the Pack from 1989 to 1993.

#63 - Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston, Green Bay Packers. I have seen Fuzzy (in person) stand and sing along to a Meat Loaf music video. I have listened to him tell endless stories at his fine establishment. He is an all-time favorite.

#64 - Jerry Kramer, Green Bay Packers. Kramer was Thurston's counterpart, playing right guard. It is an absolute sin that Jerry Kramer is not in the NFL Hall of Fame.

#65 - Mark Tauscher, Green Bay Packers. This former Badger was the Pack's 7th round pick in the 2000 draft. He became the starting right tackle early that season and has been there ever since with a short break last season.

#66 - Ray Nitschke, Green Bay Packers. As a youngster, I saw Nitschke play in a charity basketball game in Kenosha. During that game he reacted to an official's decision by slamming the basketball so hard that it hit the ceiling in St. Joe's gymnasium. I was impressed.

#67 - Reggie McKenzie, Buffalo Bills. This "Electric Company" guard paved the way for O.J. Simpson's 2003 rushing yards in 1973.

#68 - Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins. Jagr helped Mario Lemieux power the Pens to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992. He now plays for the Czech Republic.

#69 - Tim Krumrie, Cincinnati Bengals. Another former Badger. Krumrie is probably best remembered for his broken leg flopping around in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXIII.

#70 - Art Donavan, Baltimore Colts. Having never seen "Fats" play, I became a big fan of his when he began doing the late-night talk shows after retirement. The man can tell a story.

#71 - Alex Karras, Detroit Lions. I always liked Karras as a player and enjoyed him in Paper Lion and as "Mongo" in Blazing Saddles. I am not ashamed to say that I was even a fan of his work in the television show Webster.

#72 - John Matuszak, Oakland Raiders. "Tooz", a Milwaukee native, was a colorful character to say the very least. He too had a movie career. He passed at age 38. His death has been blamed on his wild lifestyle, including the possible use of anabolic steroids.

#73 - John Hannah, New England Patriots. Hannah played 13 professional seasons, earning All-Pro honors 10 times. Some have called this Hall-of-Famer the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history.

#74 - Henry Jordan, Green Bay Packers. After retiring, this NFL Hall-of Famer went on to create and oversee Summerfest. He too passed away very early, at age 42.

#75 - Joe Greene, Pittsburgh Steelers. Playing defensive tackle for Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain, he might be best known for gulping down a bottle of Coca-Cola and tossing his sweaty jersey at a little kid.

#76 - Mike McCoy, Green Bay Packers. McCoy matriculated at Notre Dame before playing defensive tackle for the Green and Gold for 7 seasons.

#77 - Lyle Alzado, Denver Broncos. Besides the Broncos, Alzado also played for the Browns and Raiders. He was one of the first major sports figures to admit to using steroids. He passed at the age of 43 after battling a brain tumor the last few years of his life.

#78 - Bubba Smith, Baltimore Colts. Another great NFL defensive lineman who went on to a career on the silver screen after retiring from the game. He is perhaps best known for his role as Moses Hightower in the Police Academy series.

#79 - Tony Mandarich, Michigan State Spartans. As #77, Mandarich was "The Incredible Bust" for the Packers. As #79, he was a consensus All-American for the Spartans. He is now a friend on facebook.

#80 - James Lofton, Green Bay Packers. Besides the Packers, this Hall-of-Famer also caught passes for the Raiders, Bills, Rams and Eagles. For 4 seasons he joined fellow wideout John Jefferson and QB Lynn Dickey to provide Green Bay with a very explosive aerial attack.

That's it for this list. The next time I do Favorites By The Number, I will finish up with 81 to 99. Until then…from the booth.

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