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, finishing today with 90-99.
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
90) Joe Juneau, Washington Capitals’ forward (1994-1999)
Runner-up: Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals’ forward (2011-2017)
Juneau averaged 0.75 points per game in his time in Washington, and was consistently among the team’s top five scorers every season. His 43 points in the shortened 1994-95 season co-led the team in his first full season with the team. His overtime goal in Game 6 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals sent the team to its first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, and he scored 17 points in 21 games that postseason, which was tied for most on the team.
MoJo is not a high-profile player, but his point production quietly made him a top seven scorer on the team year in and year out. Goal-scoring was never his forte, but he still managed to reliably tally 40-50 points nearly every season. His 58 points in 2016-17 remain his career-high, and while he was not on the team when they won the Stanley Cup, he had his hand in plenty of successful campaigns.
91) Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (2011-present)
Runner-up: Sergei Fedorov, Washington Capitals’ forward (2008-2009)
Kerrigan has been among the team’s best defensive players for most of his career. He has been to four Pro Bowls, and is just one sack away from tying Dexter Manley’s franchise sack record of 91.0. His 90.0 career sack total is sixth-most among active players, and within spitting distance of 2011 draft classmates JJ Watt and Von Miller. Despite this, he’s been an underrated defensive star throughout his career, but in Washington he’s placed exactly where he deserves to be when looking at all other 91s.
Fedorov spent most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, winning three Stanley Cups (including one against the Caps in 1998) and making a name for himself as one of the best players of the 1990s. He was one of the first star players to defect from the Soviet Union, and by the time he made it to Washington, he was well past his prime. The Hall of Famer played just 70 total regular season games in Washington across two seasons, but he was the team’s fifth-highest point scorer in the 2009 playoffs at 39 years old (the four ahead of him were 24 or younger).
92) Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals’ forward (2014-present)
Runner-up: Chris Baker, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (2012-2016)
Kuzy has had an up-and-down career so far, at times looking like one of the best players in the world, and at other points looking like he isn’t trying as hard as he should be. Still, he remains one of the team’s top offensive players. At nearly 28 years old, he is one of the few pieces of the championship core still in his physical prime. His performance in the 2018 postseason was one for the ages, leading the team with 32 points in 24 games, which was the highest total since Evgeni Malkin in 2009. He’ll remain a franchise cornerstone for the foreseeable future.
Baker spent the latter two of his four seasons in Washington as a starting defensive lineman. His best season came in 2015, where he finished sixth on the team with 53 combined tackles and third on the team with 6.0 sacks.
93) Phillip Daniels, Washington Redskins’ defensive end (2004-2010)
Runner-up: Jonathan Allen, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (2018-2019*)
Daniels started his career in Seattle and Chicago before spending the final six years in Washington. Spending the bulk of his time here as a starting defensive end, Daniels’s veteran leadership was as impactful as his play on the field. Then-head coach Mike Shanahan valued Daniels’s leadership ability so much that he added Daniels to the coaching staff upon his retirement after the 2010 season.
Allen was a surprise addition to the team in 2017, slipping all the way down to the 17th overall pick when just months before he was a projected top five pick. Since then, he’s developed into a defensive leader who will need to remain a major force if this team has any hopes of turning things around. He’s entering his fourth season, and he has a good chance to end his career as the best No. 93 in city history.
94) Preston Smith, Washington Redskins’ defensive end/linebacker (2015-2018)
Runner-up: Dana Stubblefield, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (1998-2000)
Smith played in all 64 games during his four seasons in Washington, and he started every game in the final three seasons. After recording eight sacks as a rookie, Smith nailed down a key role in the Redskins’ defensive line. He did not truly break out until 2019, his first season with the Green Bay Packers, where he totaled a career-high 12.0 sacks and helped the team reach the NFC Championship.
Stubblefield was a star in the mid-1990s for the San Francisco 49ers, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1993, Defensive Player of the Year in 1997, and earning three All-Pro selections. He was not the same player by the time he reached Washington, but in 1999 he put up the third-highest combined tackle total of his career (44), the highest two being his rookie and Defensive Player of the Year seasons.
95) Dan Wilkinson, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (1998-2002)
Runner-up: William Gaines, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (1995-1997)
The first overall pick of the 1994 draft to Cincinnati left town after just four seasons. He joined the team at the same time as Stubblefield, suddenly giving the team a supposedly elite defensive line. While the results were not awful, the line did not perform as well as predicted, Wilkinson still managed to spend five seasons as a fixture on the defensive line.
Gaines did not have a long career, but three of his four NFL seasons came in Washington. He recorded two sacks in 1995, which were the only two of his entire career and were tied for fifth on the team that season. He was never a full-time starter, but was a solid reserve lineman.
96) Phil Housley, Washington Capitals’ defenseman (1997-1998)
Runner-up: Cornelius Griffin, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (2004-2009)
Housley, a Hall of Fame defenseman, was one of the best American hockey players of all-time. His 1,232 points and 1,495 games played were the most of any American at the time of his retirement. He never won a Stanley Cup, but he came closest with the Caps in 1998, in the second of two seasons he played with the team. He was the top scoring defenseman on the Caps in his first season, and a top seven scorer team-wide both years. He won’t be primarily remembered as a Capital, but his impact was undeniable in his short tenure here.
Griffin played the final six seasons of his career with the Redskins after playing the first four with the New York Giants. He led the NFL with 21 tackles for loss in 2004, his first season in Washington, and his 70 combined tackles on the season was a career-high (also fifth-most on the team).
97) Renaldo Wynn, Washington Redskins’ defensive end/tackle (2002-2006, 2009)
Runner-up: Lorenzo Alexander, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (2010-2012*)
Wynn had two stints with the franchise, although he played just two games during the second one in 2009. In his first stint, he played in all but one game across five seasons. Wynn helped the team reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999 during the 2005 season.
Alexander was a special teams star with Washington in the early 2010s. He was named special teams captain in 2010, and even made the Pro Bowl in 2012. It wasn’t until he reached Buffalo in 2016 that he truly blossomed as a starting linebacker, but he was still a strong contributor during his early days in Washington.
98) Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (2009-2014)
Runner-up: Lemar Marshall, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (2004-2006*)
Orakpo arrived in 2009 with much hype as a young defensive star, and his career-high 11.0 sacks as a rookie co-led the team that season and helped make him the first Redskins rookie to make the Pro Bowl since Tony Green in 1978. He was the only rookie in the entire NFC to be an initial vote on the roster. He immediately became a fan favorite, and while two separate pectoral muscle tears in 2012 and 2014 threatened his career, he was still one of the Redskins’ top defensive players of the early-2010s.
Marshall was an undrafted free agent who spent his first couple seasons as a reserve player before taking a leap in 2004 to replace the injured LaVar Arrington. Once fully entrenched in a starting role, Marshall put up over 100 combined tackles in both the 2005 and ’06 seasons, leading the team in ’05 with 101. His 2007 release from the team was considered a surprise move, as he was among the team’s better defensive players from the mid-2000s.
99) Andre Carter, Washington Redskins’ defensive end (2006-2010)
Runner-up: Marco Coleman, Washington Redskins’ defensive end (1999-2001)
Carter was a starting defensive end as soon as he joined the team from San Francisco. After putting up six sacks in 2006, Carter led the team with 10.5 sacks in ’07, then led the team again in ’09 with 11.0 sacks (tied with Orakpo). He had a bit of an up-and-down tenure with the team in terms of production, but he as a whole he was an effective pass rusher.
Coleman made his only Pro Bowl in 2000, recording a career-high 12.0 sacks to go with two forced fumbles. He started all 44 games that he played across three seasons, missing just four games during the 2001 season. He was still a big piece of the defensive line in ’99 and ’01, but playing just three seasons in DC limited his all-time impact.
We have gone through No. 0 to No. 99, naming the top two players to wear each number, plus a few honorable mentions sprinkled in. Over 200 athletes named, and the Redskins make up well over half of the list, which doesn’t come as a surprise given how every number except for zero is used in the NFL. NFL rosters are also the largest of the four major sports, and the team has been here the longest (even when accounting the Washington Senators, there was a 30-plus year gap of no baseball in the city). The overall breakdown looks like this:
Redskins – 63 (plus 59 runner-ups)
Capitals – 19 (plus 19 runner-ups)
Nationals/Senators – 9 (plus 12 runner-ups)
Wizards/Bullets – 9 (plus 10 runner-ups)