I would first like to thank Bryan Stabbe, one of our lead editors here at Hogs Haven, for reinvigorating the By the (Jersey) Numbers. This was a labor of love I started back in 2009, shortly after Kevin Ewoldt and I took over Hogs Haven. I burned out on it about a third of the way through, just before the 2009 season began.
It is fitting that I take the number 98, and not just because that was the year I graduated from college. It was also in 2009 that the Washington Redskins drafted the player that I think wore the number 98 best.
As was the custom I began that year, I will let you all decide who was the greatest player to wear the number, and I will find a story to tell about it.
The setting was Annapolis, Maryland. It was my sister’s wedding reception, which also happened to fall on the date of the NFL draft (I know...who gets married on the same day as the NFL draft?). I found out which ballroom the reception was going to be held in, and I moved quick to book the closest hotel room to it. The good news was that the Redskins didn’t pick that day until 13th overall in the first round. That gave me some time to grab a drink and prepare what would be a “Three’s Company”-style game of cat-and-mouse between the reception and my room where I would be following the draft.
Kevin was stationed at FedEx Field at the Redskins draft party and I was quickly downing drinks as I prepared myself for what we all feared was about to happen: the Redskins were on the verge of making a move for Mark Sanchez. Kevin and I had spent weeks beating each other up over the disastrous consequences of making Sanchez our starting quarterback.
Matthew Stafford went first overall to the Detroit Lions, followed by Jason Smith, Tyson Jackson and Aaron Curry. The Cleveland Browns were picking fifth, and that is where the fun started. When it was announced that the New York Jets had moved up into the fifth spot, Kevin reported that the entire crowd at FedEx Field went nuts. It was precisely because everyone knew that the move meant only one thing: Mark Sanchez was about to be unavailable to the Redskins.
As the Redskins pick drew closer, I was starting to feel the effects of my plan. In order to break free from the reception, I had to make an excuse to visit the bar on the far end of the floor. In my hotel room, there were now at least five or six empty gin and tonics. At the same time, the pass rusher we never thought would fall to us was, well, falling to us.
When the Denver Broncos selected Knowshon Moreno just before the Redskins turn, we all began to celebrate. The Redskins raced to the podium with the name of a player they never thought they would get, and the Brian Orakpo era began. A few weeks later, Kevin and I had the opportunity to attend the May OTA’s, where we were introduced to the rookie. To this day, I have not heard a voice lower than his in person. He looked like he was cut out of granite, and we began to envision a career that could re-write the Redskins sack records.
Forty sacks later, Orakpo’s career as a Redskins came to an end, hampered by recurring pectoral muscle tears. We were treated to great plays on the field, such as his interception return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the 2013 season that was the difference in that Redskins victory. We had the joy of debating the use of the franchise tag (always a fun past time around here). Most notably, we watched a rookie that we all cheered onto the team notch an 11-sack season...little did we know that would be the high of his career (to date).
This particular number is one of the easier ones to decide (and no, I am not including Jesse Armstead in the poll). I know who I am voting for (despite Kevin’s love of Rob Jackson), and I look forward to seeing this series to its conclusion this time!
Which Redskin wore #98 best?
This poll is closed