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Top 10 Thursdays: NFL Top 10 Number 10’s

For this initial installment of Fanspeak’s Top 10 Thursdays, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the NFL’s top 10 players who wore the uniform Number 10. Before starting my research, I figured that there would be a number of outstanding players to choose from and that I would have to make some tough decisions on who to include on the list.  I was wrong!  I actually had to struggle to come up with ten real stars- and in fact, I’m not sure that I did that. Nonetheless, because of the catchy connection in the title, I decided to press on. So here goes!

(NOTE:  only those teams on which a player had a significant impact are reflected)

#10 – Paul Hornung/Joe Flacco:    

Not #10, but half of the equation, Flacco makes the list.

Not #10, but half of the equation, Flacco makes the list.

Now I realize that both of these guys wore/wear uniform Number 5. But, the two of them together do add up to “10”! This of course is my feeble, perhaps even desperate effort to interject some star power into this list.

Hornung, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Notre Dame and NFL Hall of Famer, starred at running back for the Green Bay Packers in the late 1950s, early 60s. Flacco, the current quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens, has had some productive, albeit less than stellar years with the Ravens. But, he has led them to the playoffs every season since joining the league in 2008 and last season, in the Ravens’ Super Bowl victory, he was the game’s  Most Valuable Player.

Many may argue that Donovan McNabb  should be listed instead of Flacco.  But, because I am a Redskins fan and I have not yet gotten over McNabb’s one train-wreck of a season with Washington, there’s no way he appears on this list!


#9 – DeSean Jackson – WR – (Eagles):

Certainly with only five seasons in the league under his belt, Jackson might be considered a surprising entry on this list. However, he is a two time Pro Bowler and in 2010, he led the league in yards per reception. That of course is the same season in which he had that stunning Week 15 punt return for a touchdown on the last play of the game to beat the Giants, effectively knocking them out of the playoff race and propelling the Eagles into the playoffs.

In four of his five seasons with the Eagles, he has had at least 900 yards receiving. His productivity as a receiver and his ability to change a game as a punt returner, has made him the type of player that opposing teams have come to respect.

#8 – Jim Zorn- QB –(Seahawks):

Zorn actually had a mediocre career. But he quarterbacked the expansion Seattle Seahawks in their inaugural season as a rookie. He won the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year award in that 1976 season and was the Seahawks starting quarterback for their first 7 ½ seasons. He was known as a scrambling quarterback, which for the most part came out of necessity, given the overall lack of talent in those early years of the franchise. But he could get quite creative and the excitement that he brought to the Seahawks offense helped to keep Seattle fans interested in their football team.

Zorn is probably best known for teaming up with future Hall of Fame wide receiver, Steve Largent. While he never led the team into the postseason, he did help bring the Seahawks to the brink of becoming a playoff team. Considering his exciting style of play and his contribution to a fledgling franchise, he is worthy of being included on this list.

#7– Olindo Mare – K – (Dolphins, Seahawks):

The only kicker to make this list, Mare spent the bulk of his 16 year NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. In 1999 he was named to the All-Pro team after leading the NFL by hitting on 39 of his 46 field-goal attempts. In 2001 he led the NFL in field-goal percentage, hitting on 19 of 21 attempts.

While he had a couple of pretty productive years with the Seahawks, it was during his 10 year stint with the Dolphins that he really made a name for himself. Given the longevity of his career and his consistent success with one team over such a long period of time, he is deserving of mention here.

#6 – Robert Griffin III – QB – (Redskins):         

Small body of work so far, but a lot of excitement about this #10.

Small body of work so far, but a lot of excitement about this #10.

It is understood that Griffin has only played one year in the NFL and has not established a real body of work. However, in his rookie year, he led the perennially mediocre Redskins to the NFC East title and into the playoffs. He won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and made the Pro Bowl last year.

Some may question RG III being on this list and especially being ranked this high. But, he generated a lot of excitement throughout the league and was just flat out fun to watch. Couple that with the fact that I’m a Redskins fan and considering it’s my list, he gets to be here!

#5 – Chad Pennington – QB – (Jets, Dolphins):

Pennington is one of those quarterbacks who just seemed to fly under the radar. Throughout his 11 year career, when he was healthy, he put up some fairly decent numbers. Problem is, he often wasn’t healthy. But in 2002 and 2008 he led the league in completion percentage.

Because of his injury history, he only had five seasons where he started more than half of his teams’ games. His combined record in those seasons as a starter was a very impressive 41–25. Pennington led the Jets to three playoff appearances and he took the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season with them.

#4 – Santonio Holmes – WR – (Steelers, Jets):

Holmes has been a consistently productive wide receiver for most of his 7 year NFL career. His best year was 2009 with the Steelers, when he caught 79 passes for 1248 yards.

His off-field issues have impacted his overall stature, but he has always shown that game breaking ability and the knack for coming up with the big play at just the right time. That was never more evident than in Super Bowl XLIII when he caught nine passes for 131 yards and made a spectacular, game-winning touchdown reception at the end of that game.

#3 – Steve Bartkowski – QB – (Falcons): 

 Although Bartkowski did not put up spectacular numbers over the course of his career, he was consistently productive. He quarterbacked the Atlanta Falcons for 11 years, leading the franchise to their first three playoff appearances and he was a two-time Pro-Bowler.

In 1980, he led the league in touchdown passes and in 1984,he led the league in completion percentage.   He indeed became one of the first true offensive stars of the Falcons franchise, and for years was considered the face of that franchise.

# 2 – Eli Manning – QB – (Giants):

Well, it took us until #2 to get to a player with some real star power. Early in his 9 year career Manning’s numbers were less than impressive, prompting many to wonder if he would ever become the star quarterback the Giants expected when they acquired him. Indeed, the only category that Manning has ever led the league, is the number of interceptions thrown. And he did that twice!

But Manning has made the Pro bowl three times and he has led the Giants to 6 playoff appearances,  two of which ended in Super Bowl titles. Although he has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, as #10’s go, he is right at the top.


And the # 1 NFL player to wear the Number 10 is …

Fran Tarkenton – QB – (Vikings, Giants):    

#1 on our list is QB Fran Tarkenton.

#1 on our list is QB Fran Tarkenton.

This one of course is a no-brainer. Tarkenton had an illustrious 18 year NFL career, 13 of which were spent with the Vikings. Although he is probably still best recognized as a scrambling quarterback – and watching him was pure entertainment – he actually was a very accomplished passer.

Despite playing most of his career before the NFL became known as a “passing league”, Tarkenton put up some very impressive passing statistics. He is number four on the career leader board for touchdown passes thrown and is the number six career leader for total passing yardage. He led the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances, although each ended in defeat. In 1986, Tarkenton was inducted into the Hall of Fame.


So there you have it.  I can think of a few other Number 10’s who may have been worthy of making this list.  Mark Bulger and Trent Green come to mind. Vince Young did quarterback a couple of Titans playoff teams, but it could be argued that they got there in spite of Young, not because of him. My thinking is that just based on flakiness alone, he doesn’t belong here.

And by now, it has been well documented that I am a Redskins fan.  But I must say, even that could not prompt me to put Jay Schroeder into consideration!  So, who did I miss or how badly did I butcher the order?  No doubt, I will be corrected!



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