What was once an exercise born from a lack of news and story ideas returns thanks...to a lack of news and story ideas. I can already hear Rekka lamenting how we can look forward to seeing #33 next March. Well...I suppose I deserve that.
Since it has been a while, let's refresh the rules here. I am not picking the greatest player to ever wear the jersey number. If I was, I never would have went with Brad Edwards over Ken Houston at #27. Mostly, I am just picking and choosing stories that occur to me as I reflect on the jersey numbers that come up. This has traditionally been the place for killer interviews as well. Max Zendejas, Todd Husak...Tom Tupa's dad--I guess you're getting how this recurring piece didn't end up on Sportscenter.
When I see the number 32, there is one guy that comes immediately to mind: Vernon Dean. Now, we have had fan favorites wear this jersey more recently than Vernon Dean. Marcus Mason, a graduate of a local high school, captured the imagination of the Redskins' faithful for multiple training camps as well as the 2009 season. A little further back, Ricky Ervins made Joe Gibbs look like a genius for creating the special role for him from 1991-1994. I think even Chad Dukes had a decent run in the hearts and minds of the fanbase back in 2000.
There is something to be said for the name alone. Vernon Dean...it sounds like the main character in a story about a ridiculously cool dude. Nobody is ever going to imagine "Ken Meringolo" as the lead man in a movie chronicling the history or coolness or awesomeness. Vernon Dean could be the name of that guy for sure.
I was barely in grade school when Vernon Dean was manning the cornerback spot for the Redskins from 1982-1987, but he played for a pretty decent defensive group, aided by the strength of an offense that put opposing teams in throwing mode early and often. I think Darrell Green has something to do with why I liked Dean so much. I was obviously paying all kinds of attention to #28 from 1983-2002, but in those years when Dean and Green overlapped and the Redskins were so good, Darrell Green just seemed to draw attention to the secondary. Everyone wanted to wear #28 at the time and for good reason (that is, those who weren't rocking #44), so I gravitated towards Vernon and went with #32 when I had the opportunity.
Vernon repaid my support with three pretty solid campaigns from 1983-1985, averaging roughly six interceptions per season over that three-year span. In 1984, he hauled in seven picks and took two to the house. Sure, he didn't have the longevity that Darrell had, or the incredible impact that Champ Bailey had over his short time with the team, but when it seemed like the Washington Redskins were Super Bowl-bound every season, Vernon Dean factored in at a position that has always been one of my top two or three favorite spots.
Honorable mentions go to Ade Jimoh, Brandyn Thompson and a linebacker named Jack Pardee. Jimoh and Thompson are just a couple of the latest players we all kind of hoped would pan out. Pardee later became a head coach for the Redskins--he was actually the guy who gave way to Joe Gibbs.
I guess you could say I dipped my toes back in the Redskins By the Numbers pool. I look forward to getting back into this over the offseason and hearing about your favorite stories of players who might not otherwise ever see the light of day on sites like this. In my opinion, this is exactly what Hogs Haven is all about.