By: Joe Pohoryles
The Washington, D.C. sports teams have seen plenty of athletes do incredible things while representing the nation’s capital. One of the most recognizable features of these athletes is the numbers they sport on their uniforms.
As we forge on in these times with little going on in the sports world, I will spend the next week-and-a-half exploring which players were the best to wear every possible jersey number, continuing today with 50-59.
Of course comparing players across different sports is difficult, but this will take a look at the most impactful and iconic DC sports figures. Some of the names on this will be more prominent than others; several lesser worn numbers will merely be default picks. In any case, it should be interesting to see the distribution.
(Note: For NBA and NHL, a player’s tenure is marked by the year their first season ended until the year their final season ended. For example, John Wall was drafted in 2010 and was a rookie in the 2010-11 season, but since the season ended in 2011, his tenure is listed as 2011-present. This is not necessary for MLB — where the entire season is played in the same calendar year — or NFL — where only the postseason is played in a different calendar year.)
*= the player’s tenure on the team extended longer before or after the stated dates, but said player wore a different number in those other years
50) Fred Hageman, Washington Redskins’ linebacker/center (1961-1964)
Runner-up: Derek Smith, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1997-2000)
Hageman managed to play on both sides of the ball during his career, finishing as runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 1961 as a middle linebacker. The following season he was moved to center and anchored a strong offensive line. His career lasted just four seasons, but all came with the Redskins, and he was a high-impact performer on both sides of the ball.
Smith spent the first four years of his NFL career in Washington, playing in all 64 games and starting in 61. He was second on the team in combined tackles in 1998, and was in the top five every season. He went on to spend seven seasons with the 49ers in San Francisco, but he was a solid defensive contributor during his time in Washington.
51) Monte Coleman, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1979-1994)
Runner-up: Gerard King, Washington Wizards’ forward (2000-2001)
Coleman played on all three Super Bowl-winning teams in franchise history, and he is one of just three players to play at least 16 seasons on the team, the other two being Sammy Baugh (16 seasons) and Darrell Green (20). His 215 games played is second behind Green for most in franchise history, and he’s fourth in sacks with 43.5. An easy pick for 51, Coleman was a defensive star throughout the team’s glory years.
King won the 1999 NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs as a rookie before spending two seasons in Washington as a rotation player. His best season came in 1999-2000, where he started a career-high 28 games and averaged 5.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game (all career-highs). His NBA career was over after his second season with the team in 2000-01.
52) Mike Green, Washington Capitals’ defenseman (2006-2015)
Runner-up: Neal Olkewicz, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1979-1989)
Green, a two-time First Team All-Star, was an offensive force from the blue line during his 10 seasons in Washington. From his heavy slap shot to his reputation for game-winning heroics — he scored four game-winning goals three seasons in a row from 2007-08 to 2009-10 — Green established himself as a top offensive defenseman in the NHL. He tallied a career-high 76 points in 2009-10 after racking up 73 the season before, which led NHL defensemen both years. A defining piece of the “Young Gun” era, Green moved on to Detroit in 2015, and was recently traded to Edmonton.
Olkewicz spent all 11 of his NFL seasons at middle linebacker after playing college ball at the University of Maryland. He was on the team for the franchise’s first two Super Bowls, and was the team’s defensive MVP in 1988. He was named to the 70 Greatest Redskins list assembled in honor of the team’s 70th season in 2002.
53) Jeff Bostic, Washington Redskins’ center (1980-1993)
Runner-up: Harold McLinton, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1969-1978)
Bostic was a key member of “The Hogs,” spending all 14 NFL seasons in Washington. He made his only Pro Bowl in 1983, and he was a member of all three Super Bowl champions in franchise history. He dealt with a number of injuries throughout his career, but when healthy worked the center position masterfully for one of the most famous offensive line groups in NFL history.
McLinton spent all 10 of his NFL seasons in burgundy and gold, helping the team reach the Super Bowl in 1972. He started 104 of the 127 games he played, and held down the starting middle linebacker role from 1973 until the end of his career in ’78.
54) Kurt Gouveia, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1987-1994*)
Runner-up: Bob Kuziel, Washington Redskins’ center (1975-1980)
Gouveia won two Super Bowls with the Redskins in 1987 and 1991. He had a larger role in the ’91 run, where he intercepted a pass in each of their three playoff games that season, including the Super Bowl. He only had two career interceptions before that postseason, making it one of the more impressive playoff performances in franchise history. The Hawaiian linebacker was most recently the linebackers coach for the DC Defenders of the XFL.
Kuziel spent three seasons at starter for the center position from 1978 to ’80, succeeding Len Hauss and preceding Bostic as the team’s starting center. Though those are both guys who are difficult to be compared to, Kuziel managed to hold his own in the Skins’ O-line of the late ’70s.
55) Chris Hanburger, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1965-1978)
Runner-up: Sergei Gonchar, Washington Capitals’ defenseman (1995-2004)
Hanburger was one of the best outside linebackers of his era, earning nine Pro Bowl selections as well as five First Team All-Pro selections. The Hall of Famer is yet another Redskins lifer on this list, spending all 14 seasons in Washington and starting 135 straight games from 1968-1977. One of the most impactful players in franchise history, Hanburger is the clear choice for No. 55.
Gonchar became the first Russian defenseman to score over 20 goals in the regular season when he netted 21 in 1998-99, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to offensive ability. He tallied at least 50 points in the following four seasons, including a career-high 67 in 2002-03, earning Second Team All-Star in the latter two seasons. Gonchar was traded to Boston in the middle of his tenth season with the team, but he was a huge part of the franchise in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
56) Len Hauss, Washington Redskins’ center (1964-1977)
Runner-up: LaVar Arrington, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (2000-2005)
One of the greatest centers in franchise history, Hauss was the pre-Hogs center for the Redskins, and he was a staple in the offensive line for all 14 seasons that he played in the NFL. He never missed a single game and started all but two (both in his rookie season), giving him a 192-game starting streak that he took to retirement. He made it to five Pro Bowls in that stretch, and earned Second Team All-Pro in 1974 and ’75. He also helped the team to Super Bowl VII in ’72.
Arrington was the big defensive star of college football in 1999, winning the Bednarik Award and being named consensus First Team All-American at Penn State. He was picked second overall in the 2000 draft. Arrington made it to the Pro Bowl three years in a row from 2001-2003, after he led the team in tackles with 99 in ’01, then was tied for ninth in the league with a career-high 11 sacks. He then led the league with six forced fumbles in ’03. Injuries and issues with the coaching staff derailed his career, but he still had a great deal of success.
57) Ken Harvey, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1994-1998)
Runner-up: Rich Milot, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1979-1987)
Harvey spent the first six seasons of his career in Arizona with the Cardinals, but it wasn’t until he joined the Redskins at age 29 that he truly blossomed. Harvey started every game during his first three seasons on the team, and made it to the Pro Bowl during every season he played in Washington except for his last one. Harvey led the team in sacks in ’94, ’95 and ’97, and he was second in ’96. A major defensive rushing force of the mid-to-late ’90s, Harvey was named to the 70 Greatest Redskins list in 2002.
Milot spent his entire nine year career in Washington, spending most of it as a starting linebacker. He was on the team for their first two Super Bowls, which oddly enough were the only two seasons in which he played fewer than 10 games. He posted a career-high 4.0 sacks in 1984.
Tanner Roark had an up-and-down tenure with the Nats from 2013-2018, but he finished 10th in Cy Young voting in 2016, and helped the team win the NL East three times. He has a case for No. 57.
58) Wilber Marshall, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1988-1992)
Runner-up: Antonio Pierce, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (2001-2004)
Marshall started 79 of 80 games that he played in Washington, and was a major part of the 1991 team that won Super Bowl XVII, finishing tied for second on the team in tackles and third in sacks that season. The following season Marshall was named First Team All-Pro. Marshall also happened to be a key member of the legendary ’85 Bears that won Super Bowl XX, but in Washington he was the best to wear 58.
Pierce is best known for winning the Super Bowl with the Giants in 2007, but before that he played three relatively unspectacular seasons before hitting his stride in his fourth and final season in Washington. He started all 16 games in 2004, finishing 13th in the league with 87 solo tackles, which was good enough for most on the team alongside Pro Bowl teammate Marcus Washington. Afterwards, he departed to the Giants and found even more success, but he still made a brief impact in DC.
59) London Fletcher, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (2007-2013)
Runner-up: Brad Dusek, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1974-1981)
Fletcher spent four years in St. Louis (winning a Super Bowl) and five years in Buffalo before joining the Redskins. The true definition of an iron man, Fletcher started each of the final 215 games of his career from 2000-2013, and played in all 256 games of his career. Fletcher established himself as defensive leader, making four Pro Bowls in a row from 2009-2012 (his age 34-37 seasons). He led the league with 166 tackles in 2011. One of the great, underrated linebackers of his generation, Fletcher is the easy pick for No. 59.
Dusek had a starting streak of his own, starting all 74 games from 1975-1979, and he started 14 of 16 games in ’80. Though he never totaled any sacks during his career, Dusek held his own in the defense of that era. Yet another player to spend his whole career with the Redskins, Dusek never got the league-wide accolades but still had a knack for getting the ball, scooping up at least one fumble in every season, including a career-high four fumble recoveries in ’75. Unfortunately, Dusek was diagnosed with ALS in 2018, and continues to fight the disease. Keep fighting, Brad.