As we kick off our re-re-boot of Redskins By The (Jersey) Numbers, let’s take a moment to celebrate there are only 99 days remaining before the return of meaningful NFL games, and namely the return of the Washington Redskins. To start things off, we begin with our list with Redskin number 99s -- most of whom have notably contributed at linebacker and along the defensive line (as the NFL’s uniform rules would dictate.)
Note: Approximate Value is Pro Football Reference’s attempt to attach a single number to every player-season since 1960.
More recently we’ve seen the likes of Jarvis Jenkins (2012-14), Ricky Jean Francois (2015-17), and Andre Carter (2006-10) sport the number, for the burgundy and gold, but the player I want to focus on came to Washington in the same year that matched his jersey number: that of course would be Marco Coleman.
Coleman was selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 12th overall pick in the 1992 draft, after becoming the all-time sack leader at Georgia Tech posting 28 over just three collegiate seasons. As a rookie, he performed at a high level, and was named NFL Rookie of the Year by Sports Illustrated while earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors by Football News.
Perhaps though, he most notably he played an instrumental role by appearing in the 1994 live-action docu-biopic Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, detailing an intrepid Miami private investigator harrowing search to return the missing team mascot, Snowflake the bottle nose dolphin after his mysterious disappearance two weeks prior to the Super Bowl.
After leaving Miami and a stint in San Diego, Coleman came to the Redskins as a 30-year-old free agent in 1999, one of the original newcomers to the squad under fresh-faced, first-year owner Daniel Snyder. In spite of having gone 6-10 the season prior, there was boundless optimism in Washington which ended up being fully justified. The Redskins reversed their fortunes with a 10-6 record, winning their first playoff game since 1992 in the wild card round over the Detroit Lions before infamously having victory snatched by the jaws of defeat courtesy of a botched field goal attempt in the waning moments of a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the ensuing week.
Having had their first taste of true success since the early 90’s, the Redskins and their fans went into full win-now mode the following year, seeking to get back over the hump. Their success though, was not sustained.
Snyder sought out big-name free agents Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and Mark Carrier. The team went 8-8, and head coach Norv Turner getting the boot mid-season following a 7-6 start, a decision that descended the Redskins into an era of mediocrity (at best) and a laughingstock (at worst.)
Personally, when I reflect back on this time period I recall it having been one of the first full seasons that I was informed enough to develop a consistent fandom. As a member of DC’s “Loss Generation,” having been born just 3 months prior to the last Super Bowl victory, that 1999 campaign now in retrospect serves as a microcosm of the experience of rooting for this team as a whole. Mediocrity begetting a modicum of success, culminating in devastation, which is then compartmentalized and repackaged into unreasonable optimism, leading to mismanagement, overreach, and misplaced expectations, resulting in mediocrity. Rinse and repeat.
Existential melodrama aside, Marco Coleman still remains a bright spot in a turbulent time in franchise history. During his 3 years with the Redskins, he started all 44 games he played, forcing 7 fumbles, tallying 127 tackles, and recording 23 sacks. In 2000 he was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad, after finishing 9th in the league with 12 sacks.
Coleman ended up being overshadowed by bigger names on the defensive unit including LaVar Arrington, Champ Bailey, Dan Wilkinson. In the end, Coleman departed Washington following the 2001 season as a salary cap casualty, which was due in no small part to the high-priced free agents that marked the beginning of Snyder’s tenure as owner.
However, to this day he remains the type of player that the Redskins continue to hope to bring into the fold -- a strong contributor who may not fetch headlines but can do the job asked of them.
Which Redskins’ #99 stands out the most to you? Vote in our poll and discuss in the comments below.
Who is your favorite Redskin who wore #99?
This poll is closed
Tracy Rocker (DT, 1989-1990)
Rod Stephens (MLB, 995-1996)
Marco Coleman (DE, 1999-2001)
Andre Carter (DE/OLB, 2006-2010)
Jarvis Jenkins (DE, 2012-2014)