BY ROBERT MURRAY – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
In a look at the greatest jersey numbers of all-time, certain numbers like 4, 99 and 23 may jump off the page. However, the same can be said for the number 22 which features three Hall of Famers (and possibly a fourth depending on the views of baseball writers).
NFL: Emmitt Smith. When thinking about the greatest rushers in NFL history, Emmitt Smith is easily recognizable. His highlights include: the most rushing yards of all time, three Super Bowl titles (including one Super Bowl MVP), and six straight Pro Bowls. What’s even more amazing is his longevity in a position that can end in an instant. The fabled 22 played 15 seasons with the Cowboys/Cardinals and had a streak of 11 straight seasons with at least a 1,000 yards rushing. Much more can be said about Smith and his accolades but simply put he is greatest ever and is a walking example for current and future elite running backs.
MLB: Roger Clemens. For 24 seasons, Clemens terrorized batters in the MLB. His 354 wins are ninth all time. His seven Cy Young awards are first all-time, a stat likely never to be broken. In two of his Cy Young winning years (1986, 1998) he swept the first place votes. Steroid accusations aside, Roger Clemens was not only one of the most dominant pitchers in the MLB in three different decades but one of the best in professional sport to wear the number 22.
NHL: Mike Bossy. A list of the greatest athletes to wear the number 22 would be incomplete without one of the NHL’s most prolific scorers of the late 1970s/1980s. Although Mike Bossy only played 752 games, he had a better goals per game average and shooting percentage than Wayne Gretzky. His nine seasons of 50 goals or more is tied with Gretzky and he was part of the Islanders four Stanley Cup winning teams in the early 1980s. Although he attained several notable accomplishments not limited to but including 500 goals, a Calder trophy and the aforementioned statistics his career was also cut short due to injury.
NBA: Elgin Baylor. Raptors fans might be quick to associate the number 22 with newly acquired Rudy Gay but basketball historians would associate the number with Elgin Baylor. Over a 14 year NBA career, he averaged a double-double per game (27.4 points-per-game and 13.5 rebounds-per-game). Over the course of three seasons he averaged 34 points or better per game. Despite his illustrious career in the NBA, Baylor’s was cut short due to a knee injury. Despite retiring without a championship (the Lakers won the year after he retired), his statistics made him one of the most dangerous threats on the hardwood during the 1960s.
More NHL: Hockey Central Insiders answer fan questions