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 60-69.
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
60) Chris Samuels, Washington Redskins’ offensive tackle (2000-2009)
Runner-up: John Wilbur, Washington Redskins’ guard (1971-1974)
Samuels spent all 10 NFL seasons in Washington as the star left tackle, starting all 141 games he played out of a possible 160. The six-time Pro Bowler was selected third overall in the 2000 draft right after the team picked LaVar Arrington second. The Alabama native was the team’s top offensive lineman of the 2000s, and once he retired he remained in the area, working as an offensive coordinator for Winston Churchill High School in Potomac followed by Northwest High School in Germantown as of 2019.
Wilbur spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams before coming to DC, helping the team to Super Bowl VII in 1972. Though he was not an all-time great offensive lineman, Wilbur had a lasting effect on the league. He was among the first players to tighten his jersey sleeves, which soon after became adopted league-wide. He also served as treasurer for the NFLPA.
61) Livan Hernandez, Washington Nationals’ pitcher (2005-2006*, 2009-2011)
Runner-up: Fran O’Brien, Washington Redskins’ tackle (1960-1966)
Hernandez became famous as one of the first prominent Cuban defectors to reach the major leagues, along with his brother Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. He rose to fame by winning NLCS MVP and World Series MVP with the Florida Marlins in 1997. He was with the Expos when they moved to DC to become the Nats, and was one of the team’s first ever All-Stars in 2005. He left after ’06, but returned in ’09 for a second stint. In 2010, he was second on the team in WAR (and first among pitchers) with 3.1.
O’Brien spent just over six seasons as a starting tackle, mainly on the right side. Though he spent limited time in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, he spent the majority of his career in DC. After retiring in Pittsburgh, O’Brien returned to the DC area to manage restaurants in Washington, Annapolis and Rehoboth Beach.
62) Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals’ pitcher (2017-2018*)
Runner-up: Ray Schoenke, Washington Redskins’ guard (1966-1975)
Doolittle remains on the Nats, but he switched to No. 63 in 2019. He had proven himself as the bullpen’s most reliable arm since he was traded from Oakland in 2017, and he was named to the All-Star team in 2018. His 2019 season was not as strong, but only Daniel Hudson and he were the true relievers trusted to pitch in close games during the 2019 postseason run. Once baseball resumes, he’ll be back setting up and making saves for the team.
Schoenke was a warrior on the offensive line for the Skins. After bouncing around between the Cowboys, Browns and Green Bay Packers for the first few years of his career, he found his footing in Washington and held a starting spot in the offensive line for the better part of 10 years. Nicknamed “The Mummy,” for the number of injuries he sustained and the amount of tape that he needed (he later underwent five surgeries and two knee replacements), Schoenke continually to provide solid protection for the team’s skill players.
63) Raleigh McKenzie, Washington Redskins’ guard/center (1985-1994)
Runner-up: Rod Breedlove, Washington Redskins’ linebacker (1960-1964)
McKenzie was a versatile piece in a Redskins’ offensive line that won two Super Bowls (XXII and XXVI), starting in all five offensive line positions throughout his career, but mainly playing center and guard. One of the more underrated players in that era, McKenzie still made the 70 Greatest Redskins list. His brother, Reggie, was the general manager from 2012-2018 after an NFL career of his own.
Breedlove, a Cumberland native and former Terrapin, ended up in Washington and spent the middle three of five seasons as the team’s starting right outside linebacker. He made the Pro Bowl in ’62, totaling three interceptions and three fumble recoveries that season. Absolutely no disrespect intended, but he may have the most porn star-sounding name that I’ve ever encountered. If only he wore No. 69…
64) Kedric Golston, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (2006-2016)
Runner-up: Ron Saul, Washington Redskins’ guard (1976-1981)
Golston was a consistent force on the Redskins’ defensive line, shuffling in and out of the starting lineup throughout his 11-year career, played entirely in Washington. He remained in the area after his career ended, as he works real estate and runs a Pilates studio in Ashburn.
Saul started his career in Houston, but never really held down a starting position until he came to Washington. He was the team’s starting left guard from 1975-1981, just missing out on the team’s first Super Bowl, but still providing solid coverage in his time here.
65) Dave Butz, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (1975-1988)
Runner-up: Vince Promuto, Washington Redskins’ guard (1960-1970)
Butz was one of the NFL’s best defensive players in the 1980s, peaking in 1983 when he was named First Team All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year. At 6’8″ and north of 300 pounds, Butz was an absolute nightmare to play against. He remained a starter on the defensive line well into his 30s, starting all 16 games in 1988 at 38 years old, his final season. The league started tracking sacks mid-way through his career, so he is credited with just 35.5, but it is estimated that he accumulated roughly 59.5.
Promuto spent his entire career in Washington, starting 112 games mainly at right guard. He made the Pro Bowl twice in ’63 and ’64. He was one of the team’s better offensive linemen of the 1960s.
Andre Burakovsky was among the Capitals’ most promising young players, but with such a loaded lineup, he had difficulty standing out, and his inconsistent play frustrated coaches and fans alike. Though he left the team after 2019 and found a better role in Colorado, Burakovsky will be remembered in Washington for his two goals in the 4-0 Game 7 win in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals to send the team to the Cup Final. Had he lasted longer and done more, he would have officially made this list.
66) Joe Jacoby, Washington Redskins’ offensive tackle (1981-1993)
Runner-up: Chris Chester, Washington Redskins’ guard (2011-2014)
A founding member of “The Hogs,” Jacoby was on the team for all three Super Bowl wins, and he is arguably the best player in the team’s history to not be in the Hall of Fame. His biggest moment in an incredible career was probably as the lead blocker in John Riggins‘ iconic rushing touchdown in Super XVII. Jacoby made the Pro Bowl four years in a row from 1983-1986, and was First Team All-Pro in ’83, ’84 and ’87.
Chester started all 64 games in his four seasons with the team. He was no superstar, but in an offensive line that saw plenty of turnover due to injuries, Chester’s constant presence and solid blocking was a valuable piece for the offensive line.
67) Ray Brown, Washington Redskins’ guard (1989-1995, 2004-2005)
Runner-up: Rusty Tillman, Washington Redskins’ linebacker/kick returner (1970-1977)
Brown spent 20 seasons as a quality lineman for a handful of teams, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2001 with the San Francisco 49ers. He missed the entire 1991 season in Washington with an injured elbow. Of course, the team won the Super Bowl that year, so he missed out on the team’s run. He rejoined the team in ’04 at age 42, starting in 14 games. The following season he played in all but one regular season game, and became one of the oldest players to start in a playoff game.
Tillman spent his entire career in Washington, but spent most of his time as a second-unit linebacker, starting just three games out of the 107 he played. He had a bigger role in special teams, where he was nicknamed “The King.” He played seven different special teams positions and served as a captain from ’74 to ’77.
68) Russ Grimm, Washington Redskins’ guard (1981-1991)
Runner-up: Jaromir Jagr, Washington Capitals’ (2002-2004)
Another headlining member of “The Hogs,” Grimm played on all three Super Bowl-winning teams and is one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history. He went to the Pro Bowl and was named First Team All-Pro in the same four seasons from ’83 to ’86, and he was named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Jagr has the second-most points in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky, playing 24 NHL seasons, playing from as early as 18 to as late as 45 (and he still plays in Europe today at 48 years old). Along the way, Jagr spent a few years in Washington. He was not a success here, as in his first season he failed to lead the team to the playoffs or finish as a top scorer for the first time in his career. He was eventually forced out to the Rangers in ’04, where he found new success. Though not close to the best Capital of all-time, his standing as one of the greatest NHLers ever makes him one of the best to wear 68 in DC.
69) Mark Schlereth, Washington Redskins’ guard (1989-1994)
Runner-up: Perry Brooks, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (1978-1984)
Schlereth was a later member of “The Hogs,” helping the team win Super Bowl XXVI in the ’91 season before winning two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in ’97 and ’98. He made his first of two career Pro Bowl appearances during that ’91 championship season in Washington, and he takes the title as the nicest player in DC sports history.
Brooks is yet another Redskins’ lifer, spending most of his career as a reserve lineman. He started 12 games in ’81, but never started more than five in a single season during the rest of his career. Still, he helped contribute on defense during the team’s first Super Bowl-winning season.