Barry Sanders and Dick LeBeau Named Best to Wear Jersey Numbers
Jason Ross Jr.
CBS Sports recently released its list of the “Best player to wear each jersey number in NFL history."
Six active players were included, in addition to some of the most fabled names that the game of football has to offer.
The Lions are responsible for two names on the list: Barry Sanders (No. 20) and Dick LeBeau (No. 44).
RB Barry Sanders
Sanders will turn 52 years old in a few weeks.
The Hall of Fame running back is widely considered to be the greatest Lions of all-time.
In 10 seasons, he racked up 15,269 rushing yards, the 1997 MVP award and was recognized as a Pro Bowler each year.
The silver No. 20 that he wore on the front and back of his Detroit uniform will forever be cherished in Lions lore.
If this were a list of the best offensive talents in NFL history, we’d have a challenging task on our hands. Names such as Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Sanders, among others, would all be included on the list.
Smith and Payton both accumulated more career rushing yards than Sanders. But had Sanders’ career gone longer than it did, he more than likely would own the all-time rushing record.
DB Dick LeBeau
LeBeau proudly dawned the No. 44 in Detroit, after his career in pro football began with the Cleveland Browns cutting him during training camp in 1959.
LeBeau would go on to sign with Detroit, where he cultivated an exceptional career at defensive back that lasted 14 seasons.
His 62 career interceptions are still a Lions franchise record.
Fellow Hall of Famer Lem Barney sits behind him with 56.
The now 82-year-old LeBeau once played 171 consecutive games in a Detroit uniform -- a formerly long-standing NFL record for a cornerback. It has since been broken by ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers star corner Ronde Barber.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention LeBeau’s 45-year coaching career.
He never did coach in Detroit, but he was ultimately known as one of the greatest defensive minds of all-time.
He’s credited by most for inventing the “zone blitz" defense.
The jersey numbers 20 and 44 will forever go down as two of the biggest irreplaceable jerseys in Lions history.
And Sanders and LeBeau will certainly be remembered as two of the most recognizable names in franchise history.