For the first time in a few numbers, we have a legitimate argument!
There are two Redskin greats who can lay claim to being the best #72 in team history.
Both of them were standout defensive linemen who helped turn the Redskins / Cowboys rivalry into the most intense in all of football.
Diron Talbert was a Texas-born tackle who starred at UT before moving on to the Los Angeles Rams, where he played for George Allen. Continuing the “Ramskin” tradition he created when he moved to Washington, Allen brought in Talbert in 1971. He stayed until he retired after the 1980 season, having started 130 games for Washington.
Talbert was a major part of the Redskins’ 1972 NFC title team, and he also made a Pro Bowl in 1974. But he’s most famous for getting the better of Roger Staubach in a longstanding feud.
Talbert and Staubach notoriously refused to shake hands during the pregame coin toss when both were captains, and Talbert is the only person who ever infuriated Staubach so much that the God-fearing Cowboys star cursed on the field. He also baited Staubach into committing the only personal foul of his career.
That alone would have gotten Talbert a spot on the 70 Greatest Redskins list in 2002, but he was also a heck of a defensive lineman.
But, as a player, he wasn’t as disruptive—on the field or otherwise—as the other contender for being the one, true #72.
Dexter Manley was another Texas-born star, and one of the greatest pass-rushers of the 1980s, an era when being able to pressure the quarterback became arguably as important as any facet of professional football.
Manley played nine seasons for the Redskins, racking up 91 sacks in 125 games. He was outspoken, controversial, and sometimes almost as much of a headache for the Redskins as he was for opponents.
But there’s no doubt that his tremendous athleticism and ability to track down opposing quarterbacks was one of the reasons why the Redskins were so successful during his tenure. In fact, Manley won two Super Bowls with Washington and was a first-team All-Pro in 1986, a year in which he posted a career high 18.5 sacks, the fourth straight season in which he had at least 11 sacks.
Like Talbert, Manley had his share of run-ins with the Cowboys, including a late-season brawl during a win at RFK in 1987. But, of course, Manley’s run-ins weren’t limited to the Cowboys.
By Pro Football Reference’s reckoning, Manley has a slightly higher Approximate Value than Talbert, but it’s close. Another defensive lineman, Joe Rutgens, also fares well. He was a two-time Pro Bowler during some lean years in the 1960s.
I give Dex the edge over Talbert because of the two world titles he helped the Redskins win, as well as the fact that he played his last down with Washington during the 1989 season, and, yet, he is still the all-time sack leader in franchise history.
Did I make the right call? Vote below, and let us know in the comments!
Who is the greatest #72 in Redskins history?
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