GRAND ISLAND — What’s in a name? The question was posed by William Shakespeare in his play “Romeo and Juliet.”
Sports fans should be asking: What’s in a number? Not just the endless statistical numbers in the games we play and follow, but in the numbers identifying the players. Their jersey numbers.
Numbers are so important to players, that many players feel they play better, run faster or jump higher with a familiar digit on their backs. With that in mind, we embark on who wears or wore the definitive number. Just who was the greatest No. 8, No. 24, No. 32, or No. 96? As Casey Kasem liked to say, “Let’s go to the countdown,” or in our case, the count up to the definitive jersey numbers.
For the most part, we are considering only numbers in professional sports although we will cop out and use some college players occasionally. We’ll list not only our choice, but also the top contenders for each number.
No. 00–Contender: Robert Parish Winner: Jim Otto, Oakland Raiders. After Otto wore No. 50 in his rookie season with Oakland, the Raiders equipment manager decided double-zeros would look good on “Mr. Aught-O.” The Raiders weren’t winning games or bringing in fans in 1961 and thought, why not?