Louisiana by the Numbers: The best of every uniform (90-99)
First of a series
This is what happens when history meets numbers.
Crescent City Sports has decided to go back through the list of greatest players to compete on the fields, courts and diamonds of Louisiana and decide who was the best to wear every number from 0 to 99.
Our rules are simple: To be eligible for our list, you had to play for a college or professional team in Louisiana, and the list is based on the number you wore while in Louisiana. That will leave out the likes of those who grew up in Louisiana but never played for a college or pro team in the state, such as Peyton Manning and Rusty Staub. But we still have plenty from which to choose.
You could get listed more than once – for instance, Pete Maravich wore No. 23 at LSU and later wore both 44 and 7 with the New Orleans Jazz. Or perhaps football players who went from LSU to the Saints like Eric Martin, who wore 41 and 84, respectively, and Devery Henderson, who wore 8 and 19.
The first of our 10-part series is the caboose of the list – Nos. 90-99. In reality, this has been the hardest part of the list to compile. Not only are there effectively only football players from which to choose, it was rare to see uniform numbers in the 90s until the 1980s. It’s doubtful you remember Steve Parker, but when he donned No. 96 in the 1980 season, he was the first-ever Saint to wear a number in the 90s.
Going forward throughout the month of May, we’ll work our way up the ladder to the 80s, 70s, and finally to the single digits.
Without further adieu, here we go:
No. 90 – Michael Brockers, LSU football (2009-11): Turned a solid career at LSU into a first-round selection in the NFL Draft and a career that is headed into its ninth season, all with the Rams. Brockers was an All-SEC pick in 2011, when he started every game for an LSU team that won the Southeastern Conference title and reached the BCS championship game.
No. 91 – Will Smith, Saints (2004-12): One of the best defensive linemen in franchise history, he was part of the Super Bowl champions and reached the Pro Bowl. He had 67.5 career sacks, fifth-most in Saints history. His tragic death in 2016 did not allow him to see his induction into the Saints Hall of Fame later that year and the team’s Ring of Honor last fall.
Honorable mention: Chris Gannon, USL football (1984-88)
No. 92 – Drake Nevis, LSU football (2007-10): The former John Ehret standout became an All-American for the Tigers in 2010 and finished his career with 31½ tackles for loss and 11 sacks. After spending four seasons in the NFL, he took his game north of the border and won a Grey Cup title last year with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Honorable mention: Tim Joiner, LSU football (1979-82)
No. 93 – Wayne Martin, Saints (1989-99): A former first-round pick who ranks third in franchise history in sacks with 82.5, Martin manned his defensive end position for more than a decade. (Aside: In one of ESPN’s draft flashbacks last week, it was interesting to hear Mel Kiper Jr. call Martin a “force pick” for the Saints.) He earned one Pro Bowl selection and was elected to the Saints Hall of Fame in 2003.
Honorable mention: Chad Lavalais, LSU football (2000-03)
No. 94 – Cameron Jordan, Saints (2011-present): Wearing a number that has produced consistency within the Saints franchise for four decades, Jordan has become the best to wear it. He’s second only to Rickey Jackson in career sacks, has been named to five Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in 2017. Halls of fame will come calling upon his retirement; will Canton be a part of that list?
Honorable mention: Michael Brooks, LSU football (1983-86); Charles Grant, Saints (2002-09); Joe Johnson, Saints (1994-2001); Booger McFarland, LSU football (1985-88); Jim Wilks, Saints (1981-93);
No. 95 – Kyle Williams, LSU football (2002-05): An All-American with the Tigers who was a starter on the 2003 national championship team, Williams went on to play 13 NFL seasons, all with the Buffalo Bills, and reach the Pro Bowl six times. The native of Ruston retired from pro football after the 2018 season.
No. 96 – Henry Thomas, LSU football (1983-86): Thomas came to LSU from the Houston area and helped the Tigers win an SEC title, earning first-team all-conference honors in 1986. He went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL with the Vikings, Lions and Patriots, twice reaching the Pro Bowl.
No. 97 – La’Roi Glover, Saints (1997-2001): Glover had 50 sacks in five seasons as a Saint, including an NFL-best 17 in the 2000 season, a campaign that produced the first playoff victory in franchise history. Glover was a first-team All-Pro that season and made the first of his six career Pro Bowl appearances. He ended his 13-year NFL career with 83.5 sacks.
Honorable mention: Leonard Marshall, LSU football (1979-82); Renaldo Turnbull, Saints (1990-96); Marty Wetzel, Tulane football (1977-80)
No. 98 – Sheldon Rankins, Saints (2016-present): The former first-round pick has been solid in his four years in New Orleans despite battling injuries. He has 96 career tackles and 16 sacks – eight of which came in his best season as a pro, 2018.
Honorable mention: Willie Whitehead, Saints (1999-2006)
No. 99 – Tony Elliott, Saints (1982-88): Elliott is the best of what has been a star-crossed number for the Saints franchise. He started 57 games at nose tackle in his last four years with the franchise and had a sack in the Saints’ first-ever playoff game in January 1988 against the Vikings.
Honorable mention: Norman Hand, Saints (2000-02)
Next: The best of Nos. 80-89.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…