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 70-79.
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
70) Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals’ goaltender (2011-present)
Runner-up: Sam Huff, Washington Redskins linebacker (1964-1967, 1969)
Holtby has been among the best netminders in the league for the past five or six years, and while he regressed slightly in 2019-20, the 2016 Vezina Trophy winner still performed masterfully in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2018. He led the league in wins in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and has made it to the All-Star games for the past five years in a row (2016-2020). He is a free agent this offseason, but regardless of whether he stays or goes, he will be remembered most for his success with the Caps.
Huff, a Hall of Fame linebacker, spent the bulk of his career with the New York Giants, where he was named an All-Pro six times (First Team twice) and a Pro Bowler four times. Still, upon joining the Skins in ’64, Huff immediately became a game-changing linebacker, leading what became the league’s second-ranked defense in 1965. He achieved more success in New York, but he still remains an all-time great Redskin.
71) Charles Mann, Washington Redskins’ defensive end (1983-1993)
Runner-up: Trent Williams, Washington Redskins’ offensive tackle (2010-present)
Mann and Dexter Manley made up the most fitting edge rushing partners (in both performance and names, although the jury is still out on Da’Ron Payne and Montez Sweat in the name department). Mann became the team’s starting left defensive end by his second season, and recorded four double-digit sack seasons, with a career-high 14.5 in ’85, plus a 9.5-sack season in ’87. The two-time Second Team All-Pro won two Super Bowls in Washington, and departed Washington with 82.0 sacks, which stands as third in franchise history behind Manley and Ryan Kerrigan.
Williams was drafted fourth overall in 2010 in an effort to replace the recently retired Chris Samuels at left tackle. Williams instantly slotted in as the team’s top offensive lineman, and before long was consistently the team’s best offensive player, making the Pro Bowl seven seasons in a row from 2012-2018. His relationship with the organization quickly deteriorated in 2019, where he did not play a single snap, and it appears unlikely that he will ever play in Washington again.
72) Dexter Manley, Washington Redskins’ defensive end (1981-1989)
Runner-up: Diron Talbert, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (1971-1980)
Manley, as mentioned above, rushed opposite Mann in a lethal edge rushing combination. The “Secretary of Defense” holds the franchise record with 91.0 sacks. (Kerrigan may be poised to break that whenever football returns, as he currently sits at 90.0 career sacks.) Manley’s best season came in 1986, where he set a franchise single-season record with 18.5 sacks and was named First Team All-Pro for the only time in his career. Like Mann, Manley won two Super Bowls in Washington.
Talbert began his career with the Rams in LA, but joined the Redskins after four seasons. In the subsequent 10 seasons in Washington, Talbert missed just four games, all in 1978. A Pro Bowler in ’74, Talbert played a big role in heightening the team’s rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys, playing with an unparalleled level of passion and aggression during those match-ups in particular.
73) Mark May, Washington Redskins’ guard/tackle (1981-1989)
Runner-up: Paul Laaveg, Washington Redskins’ guard (1970-1975)
Another member of “The Hogs,” May started 115 games in Washington and helped win two Super Bowls. Though he suffered a couple big injuries during his career, from 1983 to 1988, May started 89 of a possible 96 games, making him a reliable piece of the offensive line for much of the ’80s, and one of the official 70 Greatest Redskins.
Laaveg spent all six NFL seasons in Washington. He served as the starting left guard from ’72 to ’74, where he started all 42 games in that stretch. He wasn’t an extraordinary player, but he contributed to the team’s Super Bowl appearance in ’72.
74) John Carlson, Washington Capitals’ defenseman (2010-present)
Runner-up: George Starke, Washington Redskins’ offensive tackle (1973-1984)
Carlson is the team’s third-most tenured player behind Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and has been the best defenseman on the team for awhile. The two-time All-Star and 2019 Second Team All-Star has emerged as a top-tier offensive defenseman league-wide in the past few years. Carlson was in contention for his first Norris Trophy this season, and with his contract running through 2026-27, he should continue to be a key member of the franchise for years to come.
Starke was the most senior member of “The Hogs,” and his veteran experience was invaluable for the legendary offensive line group. He won just one Super Bowl, while most of his other Hog counterparts were on the team for two or all three Super Bowls, but he helped set in motion the success that followed his retirement. It’s difficult to place him as a runner-up, given his cultural significance to the franchise, but he is still among the best to wear 74.
75) Terry Hermeling, Washington Redskins’ guard/tackle (1972-1980*)
Runner-up: Brandon Scherff, Washington Redskins’ guard (2015-present)
Hermeling spent his entire 11-year career in Washington, spending his first couple seasons in different numbers before settling on 75. Hermeling shuffled around the line, but spent the most time at left tackle, where he helped the team win the NFC Championship in 1972 and contributed to the league’s top passing offense in ’75. He started 103 games over his career, and was named as one of the 80 Greatest Redskins.
Scherff became a key piece of the team’s offensive line right out of the gate. After he was drafted fifth overall in 2015, the Iowa native started all 16 games as a rookie. He made his first Pro Bowl the following year, and has since made it to the Pro Bowl two times in the past three years. The team inked him to the franchise tag this offseason, with hopes of signing a long-term deal in the near future. Injuries have hampered Scherff over the past few years, but when healthy he’s proven to be a top-tier guard. Just five years in, he’s building a stellar career, which will hopefully continue in Washington.
76) Jon Jansen, Washington Redskins’ offensive tackle (1999-2008)
Runner-up: Ed Simmons, Washington Redskins’ offensive tackle (1987-1997)
The longtime bookend to Samuels, Jansen accrued fewer accolades, but was one of the better pieces of the Skins’ offensive line in his era. After quickly learning the offensive system as a rookie, Jansen and the rest of the line helped running back Stephen Davis rush for over 1,000 yards three years in a row (1999-2001). Jansen started every game during the first five seasons of his career, before missing all of 2004 with a ruptured Achilles tendon, but returning to start in all 16 games again in ’05. Once nicknamed “the Rock,” for his durability, injuries cut down his effectiveness by the end of his tenure, but he is still among the team’s best tackles of the past 20 years.
Simmons won two Super Bowls with the Redskins, and yet both came in the only two seasons of his 11-year career in which he played fewer than 13 games. Still, Simmons spent a good chunk of the ’90s as the team’s starting right tackle.
77) Adam Oates, Washington Capitals’ forward (1997-2002)
Runner-up: TJ Oshie, Washington Capitals’ forward (2016-present)
Oates, a Hockey Hall of Famer, had a rough beginning when he was traded to the Capitals. First, he held out to try and negotiate a new contract, then threatened to retire the following offseason after initially agreeing to play. Once a contract was settled, though, Oates became a top point producer. In his mid-30s, his 100-plus point seasons from St. Louis and Boston were behind him, but he led the league in assists in 2000-01 and 2001-02, and helped lead the team to the 1998 Stanley Cup Final. He became captain in 1999-2000, and eventually had an unsuccessful stint as coach for two seasons (2013-2014).
Oshie became a household name among U.S. hockey fans for his shootout heroics in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, so when the Capitals acquired Oshie from St. Louis prior to the 2015-16 season, fans were ecstatic. His nifty scoring ability and strong work ethic made him an instant fan favorite, and after helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2018 with 21 points in 24 games, he was selected to his first All-Star Game in 2020. Under contract until 2025, Oshie should remain a popular piece of the franchise well into his 30s.
78) Tim Johnson, Washington Redskins’ defensive tackle (1990-1995)
Runner-up: Bruce Smith, Washington Redskins’ defensive end (2000-2003)
Johnson spent four of his six seasons in Washington as a starting interior lineman, starting all 16 games in the 1991 championship season, and finishing fifth on the team in tackles in ’93, when he was elected 1993 Redskin of the Year. He was an active figure in the community, sponsoring several philanthropic events in the DC area, and he continues to serve the community in Orlando, where he currently resides.
Smith was well-past his prime by the time he reached Washington, but being arguably the best defensive lineman of all-time, he still served as a productive piece of the defense even in his late 30s/early 40s. Smith certainly has a better overall resume than Johnson, but since he achieved much more in Buffalo, he would be a bit of a cheap pick for best to wear No. 78.
79) Jim Lachey, Washington Redskins’ offensive tackle (1988-1995)
Runner-up: Ron McDole, Washington Redskins’ defensive end (1971-1978)
Lachey, a later member of “The Hogs,” was the team’s star left tackle of the late ’80s and early ’90s. His best season came in 1991, where he made his third Pro Bowl, was named First Team All-Pro for the third year in a row and helped the team win its third Super Bowl in franchise history. Though he arrived in the late stages of the Hogs’ dynasty, he was just as important to the franchise’s success.
The brunt of McDole’s success came in Buffalo in the mid-1960s, where he was one of the AFL’s top defensive players. He was 32 by the time he arrived in Washington, but he played in all 114 games across his eight seasons, starting all but seven (six of which came in his final season in ’78). He recorded a career-high three interceptions in 1971, making up a large chunk of his 12 career interceptions, which are the most all-time among defensive linemen.