When I got back to NFC South Blog headquarters and picked up a week’s worth of mail, there was something in there I was much happier to see than routine bills and advertisements. The NFL’s annual Kickoff Guide was waiting.
It’s prepared by the NFL’s media relations office and includes all sorts of information about the past, present and future. I’ll share some relevant bits and pieces with you over the next few weeks. One item I caught was a listing of retired numbers for each franchise.
The NFC South is comparatively light in this area because these teams didn’t even exist in the days of George Halas. For the record, there are only eight retired jerseys in the NFC South.
The guys who have earned that honor are Atlanta’s Steve Bartkowski (No. 10), William Andrews (No. 31), Jeff Van Note (No. 57) and Tommy Nobis (No. 60), Carolina’s Sam Mills (No. 51), New Orleans’ Jim Taylor (No. 31)and Doug Atkins (No. 81) and Tampa Bay's Lee Roy Selmon (No. 63).
Made one question pop into my mind “Who will be the next player for each franchise to get his number retired?’’ I’d like to hear your candidates, so discuss it below or send a note to my mailbag.
I’ll share my list and I’m going to make it really elite because I think only the greatest of the great should have their numbers retired:
Buccaneers: Derrick Brooks. No question on this one. This guy’s the best player in franchise history. He just needs to officially admit he’s retired, get over the fact the Bucs ended his career before he thought he was ready. The moment he does that, his jersey will be retired in glorious fashion. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Brooks is the best player in NFC South history, although I think there's a quarterback in New Orleans, who has a chance to claim that honor in time.
Panthers: John Kasay. This guy’s been with the franchise since its start. No player has ever been closer to owner Jerry Richardson. Oh, by the way, Kasay also has been a pretty remarkable kicker and has done great things in the community.
Saints: Drew Brees. You can make cases for Willie Roaf and Morten Andersen and that could happen before Brees is even done playing. But I’d pretty much bet the farm that No. 9 will be retired the moment Brees is.
Falcons: Matt Ryan. Yeah, I’m projecting here as the quarterback enters the third year of his career. But I expect greatness for a long time. I’m sure I’ll hear some suggestions for Keith Brooking. He was a very good player for a long time and I respect that, but was Brooking ever truly dominant?