On Friday we ran a poll asking which Bengals player that wore the number three was the best of all-time. We promoted the facts, limiting our spin as much as possible, allowing your vote for the player. In Friday's poll asking which player that wore the number three was the best of all time, you voted place kicker Jim Breech over quarterback Jon Kitna at a 7-3 ratio. I agree with the selection. Jon Kitna might arguably be the fifth best quarterback in franchise history, but Jim Breech was arguably the franchise's best player at his position.
Our goal here is to come up with the best players that wore each number in franchise history. That being said, we're not going to review every number either. Such as number one never being issued. If there's only one player wearing a number, we won't bring it up for discussion. We doubt we'll offer a poll with obvious choices either. Such as number five, where the only three players to wear that uniform were Jeff Hayes, Jordan Palmer and Neil Rackers. In these cases, we'll just pick the obvious Rackers because Hayes wasn't a particularly good punter with the Bengals, playing only 16 games, and Jordan Palmer has only thrown 15 passes in his career. Granted, Rackers wasn't particularly good with the Bengals either. He converted only 65.7% of his kicks, even missing three extra points. But he was the team's place kicker for three seasons and seniority breaks this specific draw.
Sometimes we're going to run into numbers where the players suggested are rather low-key. For instance, there were four players that wore number four and of those players, all were backup and third-string quarterbacks. Erik Wilhelm, wearing the number in 1991 and 1993 through 1997, started one game with the Bengals, but threw five touchdowns, six interceptions and posted 912 yards passing. Scott Covington, who wore the number from 1999 through 2002, played three games in his Bengals career, completing four of five passes for 23 yards passing. Casey Bramlet never played with the Bengals in regular season competition and J.T. O'Sullivan played three games in 2009 during mop-up duty, attempting only 11 passes.
Understand. The choices aren't that great, even though the clear winner should be Wilhelm for nearly recording 1,000 yards passing, five touchdowns and even starting one game. That's why we'll award Wilhelm as the best player to wear the number four in franchise history, even though it seems like a pointless examination with the lack of production and overall playing time. Number four won't be the only time we'll come across those situations. We'll announce the others that we think are the obvious winners, while running polls on numbers that we believe will generate interest with you guys.
Another example, number six. Our choices are wide receiver Monk Williams (played two games), Brad Costello (eight games), Shane Matthews and Craig Krenzel, neither of whom played a single game with the Bengals. We tend to side with Costello here because he averaged 49.5 yards/punt in 1998, including a 73-yarder. Monk Williams' contributions in both of his games includes a 13-yard punt return and a 33-yard kickoff return. The choice isn't as easy, mostly because we hardly we remember the players. Thankfully, the choice we make on this one is hardly worth discussing because ultimately, no one will really care.
And finally there's number ten. Jim Breech wore number three from 1985-1992, but during the first five years of his NFL career with the Bengals, he also wore number ten. Should a player be on this list twice? Honestly, we have no problem with that. If a player wore more than one number with the Bengals during his career, we're also not going to break it down to that player's performances while wearing his respective numbers. His entire career is in consideration. If Anthony Munoz wore six different numbers in his career, we couldn't in good faith ever pick someone ahead of Munoz because because his overall body of work with the Bengals concludes in the Hall of Fame. But we will examine the player's career each time his name pops up when wearing multiple uniform numbers.
Back to the number ten. We have to ask, who are the other players that wore number ten that should garner consideration? We have Eric Crabtree, a Bengals wide receive for over two seasons, posting 15 total touchdowns in 35 games played. Decent. But hardly close to Breech's 1,151 points scored in his 13-year career. Chris Bahr is listed in the Bengals record books at least six times. Yet, he was a place kicker and that would mean comparing him to Breech's career. Not close. Kevin Huber could be considered, but not after only two seasons. Of the ten remaining players that wore the number, eight wore it for only one season and Kyle Richardson and Marcus Maxwell sported it for two -- hardly even worth noting. So yes, we have to pick Breech again.
Now we have our top ten numbers figured out. Here's our list.
|No. 1: Never Assigned||--||--|
|No. 2: Mike Nugent||PK||2010|
|No. 3: Jim Breech||PK||1985-1992|
|No. 4: Erik Wilhelm||QB||1991, 1993-1997|
|No. 5: Neil Rackers||PK||2000-2002|
|No. 6: Brad Costello||P||1998-1999|
|No. 7: Boomer Esiason||QB||1984-1992, 1997|
|No. 8: Jeff Blake||QB||1994-1999|
|No. 9: Carson Palmer||QB||2003-2010|
|No. 10: Jim Breech||PK||1980-1984|
|* Only player to wear number two.|
UPDATE: The list of jersey numbers that we use is an outdated file from Bengals.com and therefore, we failed to point out that Bengals kicker Mike Nugent has also worn number two. And considering that Wright only played four games, completing all three passes attempted during his only season with the Bengals, Nugent, who was the team's primary place kicker in 2010, will be given the spot.