Arizona's Best Athletes: By The Numbers (67-99)

The best Arizona athletes in history as determined by the number they wore on their back. The final edition is 67-99. Debate on.

Say what you will about me, but I finish what I start. Numbers 00 through 66 are in the books here and here, so now embrace the heart-stopping conclusion of: By the Numbers.

Again -- the rules are completely up to me.

67 - Luis Sharpe (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1988-1994) - A three-time Pro Bowl tackle that started his career for the St. Louis Cardinals and stayed all the way through the name shift to Arizona, Sharpe was quite skilled at his craft. Unfortunately for big number 67, his personal life hasn't been as successful, as he's been arrested multiple times, shot, nearly deported, and suffered the tragic death of his 23-year-old daughter in 2000.

Also considered: Cris Dishman, Vladimir Nunez

68 - Joe Wolf (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1989-1997) - No, not the former NBA benchwarming big man. Wolf was a first round pick of the Cardinals out of Boston College in 1989 and went on to play 94 games for the team over the next nine seasons. Problem was, Wolf could barely stay healthy, as in those nine years he played more than 10 games just four times. 

Also considered: Yusuf Scott. Yup, Yusuf Scott

69 - Mike Gandy (Arizona Cardinals 2007-2009) - Remember how Mike Gandy was incredibly maligned as the Cardinals left tackle the past three seasons? Well, he's the best we've got here. Gandy was already a six-year pro when he signed with Arizona in 2007, but a fun-sounding pelvis injury last season finished his Cardinals career. 

Also considered: Vernice Smith

70 - L.J. Shelton (Arizona Cardinals 1999-2004) - Shelton was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 1999 and though he was never a star, he started 77 times over six years, including five years protecting the blind side. In 2002, Shelton started every game at left tackle and played all but nine offensive snaps.

Also considered: Derek Kennard

71 - Lester Holmes (Arizona Cardinals 1998-2000) - Two options out there for this number -- both are offensive lineman and both were Cardinals for three seasons. You probably remember Alex Stepanovich because he was an Ohio State product and occurred more recently than Holmes. Yet I'll throw the nod towards Holmes because he started at right guard every game for the 1998 playoff Cardinals.

Also considered: Alex Stepanovich

72 - Rod Saddler (Phoenix Cardinals 1988-1991) - A defensive lineman you probably don't remember at all, Saddler was a fourth round pick of St. Louis in 1987 and came along when the franchise moved to Phoenix the following season. He started 15 games a year for three seasons and racked up 9.5 sacks. That's enough to put him above Brandon Keith's five starts. 

Also considered: Brandon Keith

73 - Matt Joyce (Arizona Cardinals 1996-2000) - Nothing spells sexy quite as well as a part-time starter on the offensive line. Joyce started 34 games over five years, including 28 in his final two seasons. Like current Cardinals Tim Hightower and Paris Lenon, Joyce attended known football factory Richmond. I'm giving him the nod over Mark May because I flat out don't like Mark May. Boom.

Also considered: Mark May

74 - Reggie Wells (Arizona Cardinals 2003-2009) - As a sixth round pick out of Clarion College in 2003, not much was expected from the NFL career of Wells. Yet by his second season, Wells was the full-time starter at left guard, a position he held for most of the next six seasons. Recent acquisitions on the offensive line paved the way for the Cardinals to deal Wells to Philly prior to this season. 

Also considered: Rob Selby

75 - Leonard Davis (Arizona Cardinals 2001-2006) - Considering his lofty draft position -- second in 2001 and ahead of five Pro Bowlers, including LaDainian Tomlinson -- Davis' Cardinals career was a bit of a disappointment. In his first three seasons, Davis played right guard and right tackle, but when Dennis Green arrived in 2004, he tossed Davis over to left tackle. As you probably remember, that resulted in penalty after penalty for a guy that really didn't fit into the position. Davis signed with Dallas in 2007 and has made the Pro Bowl at right guard three seasons running.

Also considered: Lomas Brown, Levi Brown, Ernest Dye

76 - Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals 2006-present) - At least somebody that the Cardinals drafted out of USC in 2006 has turned out pretty well. Lutui has struggled with his weight at times, but he's been a solid starter since the halfway point of his rookie career. That and a lack of competition puts Deuce in the number one position.

Also considered: Jerry Drake

77 - Cliff Ronning (Phoenix Coyotes 1996-1999) - The Cardinals retired the #77 in the 1940s after Stan Mauldin died of a heart attack after a game, the Suns don't have any 77s, and D.J. Carrasco pitched in just 18 games for the D-Backs, but Ronning was still pretty solid. In two seasons and change for the Coyotes, Ronning scored 32 goals and tallied 81 assists. He also played on two Coyotes playoff teams.

Also considered: D.J. Carrasco. Or something.

78 - Freddie Joe Nunn (Phoenix Cardinals 1988-1990) - And here's the second appearance for Freddie Joe Nunn, who would be the most decorated athlete in Arizona sports history if that was determined by something like this. Which it's not. Before switching to linebacker, Nunn produced 28 sacks in the first three seasons in Phoenix, including 14 in 1988.

Also considered: Alan Branch

79 - Simeon Rice (Arizona Cardinals 1996) - Rice switched to 97 beginning in his second season, but as a rookie, he sacked the quarterback 12.5 times. Depressingly enough, for all the times the Cardinals have attempted to draft a franchise left tackle, if they had just gone with Jonathan Ogden in the 1996 draft (one pick after Rice) they would have been good to go for a decade while also getting to avoid the guy who claimed Arizona was the armpit of the league.   

Also considered: Ed Cunningham, Bob Clasby

80 - Bryant Johnson (Arizona Cardinals 2004-2007) - Johnson wore number 83 as a rookie, but switched to 80 after something called a Jason McAddley left the team. In his four seasons in the number, Johnson caught 175 balls and eight touchdowns as the third receiver behind Boldin and Fitzgerald.

Also considered: Early Doucet

81 - Anquan Boldin (Arizona Cardinals 2003-2009) - With all due respect to Frank Sanders (493 catches in eight seasons) or Roy Green (who was great for the Cardinals in St. Louis), this is an easy one. Boldin caught 586 passes for 7,520 yards and 44 touchdowns in seven seasons with the Cardinals, was a three-time Pro Bowler, and a face of the franchise in some dark years. He was sent to Baltimore last offseason.

Also considered: Frank Sanders, Roy Green

82 - Leonard Pope (Arizona Cardinals 2006-2008) - Not really a whole lot to choose from here, since you've got a major disappointment in Pope or a fringe receiver/return man in MarTay Jenkins. Pope played 42 games over three seasons, while catching 48 passes for 476 yards and five touchdowns. He wins, but really we all lose. 

Also considered: MarTay Jenkins

83 - Anthony Edwards (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1992-1997) - The undrafted wide receiver from New Mexico Highlands was never really a star, but he did catch 105 passes in his six seasons for the Cardinals. He was born in Casa Grande ... and that apparently will count for something.

Also considered: Stephen Spach

84 - Gary Clark (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1993-1994) - Average backup tight end or stud receiver who was well past his prime by the time he got to the Valley? Well congratulations, Gary Clark, I'm sure this means as much to you as the four Pro Bowls you made as a Redskin. Clark did grab 113 passes in two seasons with the Cardinals.

Also considered: Chris Gedney

85 - Rob Moore (Arizona Cardinals 1995-2001) - Arizona traded Ron Moore and the sixteenth overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft (turned into Hugh Douglas) for Rob Moore and he ended up a mainstay of their offense for seven seasons. Moore caught 322 passes, but peaked during his Pro Bowl/All-Pro season in 1997 when he caught 97 passes and led the NFL with 1,584 yards. 

Also considered: Jay Novacek, Jerheme Urban

86 - Ernie Jones (Phoenix Cardinals 1988-1992) - The Cardinals picked up Jones in the seventh round of the 1988 draft and got a good return, all things considered. In five seasons with Phoenix, Jones caught 210 passes for 3,574 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Also considered: Trey Junkin, Wojtek Wolski

87 - Ricky Proehl (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1990-1994) - Proehl lasted in the NFL up until 2006 (seriously), but began his career in 1990 with the Cardinals. He played in every game as a Cardinal for five years and caught 287 passes and 21 touchdowns. 

Also considered: Sean Morey, Johnny McWilliams

88 - Peter Mueller (Phoenix Coyotes 2007-2010) - Considering how popular a wide receiver number 88 is, you'd figure this one would be all Cardinals, but when tight end J.V. Cain died of heart failure during training camp of 1979, the number was retired. Mueller wasn't a star for the Coyotes, but he did score 39 goals and produce 68 assists in two-plus seasons in the Valley. 

Also considered: Nobody. Which is what helped Mueller win. 

89 - David Boston (Arizona Cardinals 1999-2002) - The eighth overall pick in the 1999 draft may have been a bit of a juice head, but for one glorious season in 2001, he was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. During that year, he caught 98 passes for 1,598 yards and eight touchdowns. Fortunately for the Cardinals, it was San Diego who gave Boston a seven-year, $100 million contract in 2003.  

Also considered: Ben Patrick, Nate Poole

90 - Darnell Dockett (Arizona Cardinals 2004-present) - Twitter's own Darnell Dockett has started all but one game in his seven-year NFL career and has already made two Pro Bowls. Dockett had nine sacks in 2007 and seven in 2009 and tied a Super Bowl record with three sacks. 

Also considered: Andre Wadsworth

91 - Tyronne Stowe (Phoenix Cardinals 1991-1993) - Let's not sit here and pretend that either of us know who this guy is. At all. Stowe was a linebacker that started 33 games for the Cardinals over the course of three seasons. 

Also considered: Kyle Turris, Rashad Swinger, Kenny Ibemewa

92 - Bertrand Berry (Arizona Cardinals 2004-2009) - For six seasons, Berry was a pass rushing defensive end for the Cardinals and filled that role to the effect of 40 sacks, including 14.5 in 2004 (a Pro Bowl year). Interestingly enough, Berry may have been responsible for bringing Kurt Warner to Arizona, since he sacked Warner -- then the Giants starter -- four times in what would be Warner's final Giants start. 

Also considered: Eric England, Barron Tanner (yup, they're real names)

93 - Mark Smith (Arizona Cardinals 1997-2000) - Here's another example of the Cardinals turning a seventh round pick into strong talent. Smith was selected out of Auburn in 1997 and in his first two seasons, he sacked the quarterback 15 times. With Smith, Andre Wadsworth, and Simeon Rice all on the Cardinals defensive line, things were looking up for Arizona, but as we all know, that didn't go quite to plan, as Wadsworth and Smith struggled with injuries and Rice was counting the days until he got out of town. 

Also considered: Calais Campbell, Kyle Vanden Bosch

94 - Antonio Smith (Arizona Cardinals 2004-2008) - Smith began while wearing number 67, but shifted to 94 in 2006. In his three seasons in that number, Smith played all 48 games, starting 31 times and sacking the quarterback 11.5 times. His sack against the Falcons in the Wild Card Round of the 2008 playoffs helped to put away the Cardinals second playoff victory since moving to Arizona. 

Also considered: Bernard Wilson

95 - Jamir Miller (Arizona Cardinals 1994-1998) - The linebacker out of UCLA was the first draft pick of the Buddy Ryan era and went on to play five solidly consistent seasons for the Cardinals. He never made a Pro Bowl while in Arizona (though he did in his final year in Cleveland), but his departure after 1998 was felt in the Valley for a number of years.    

Also considered: Thomas Burke

96 - Clyde Simmons (Arizona Cardinals 1994-1995) - The former Eagles standout joined his old coach Buddy Ryan in Phoenix and, though he only played two seasons here, he made an impressive impact. Simmons had 17 sacks in two seasons and even added an interception in 1995 for good measure.

Also considered: Brad Ottis

97 - Jeremy Roenick (Phoenix Coyotes 1996-2001) - Roenick was already a star (NHL '94 for Sega, anyone?) when he came to Phoenix in 1996 and he didn't really fail to live up to the billing. JR paired with Keith Tkachuck to lead the Coyotes to multiple playoff berths. Roenick never individually cracked 100 points with Phoenix, but did go over 70 three different times.

Also considered: Simeon Rice

98 - Eric Swann (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 1991-1999) - Eric Swann didn't go to college, but that didn't stop him from becoming the sixth pick in the 1991 NFL Draft and a star in Arizona for nearly a decade. Swann played primarily as a defensive tackle and made the Pro Bowl in 1995 and 96 and had 45.5 sacks in his Cardinal career. 

Also considered

99 - Nobody. The Cardinals retired the jersey about 50 years ago and no Coyotes have ever worn the number.

That's all she wrote, ladies and gentleman ... and yes, now I will have to find more original ideas for columns. I'm as frightened as you are. 

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