Packers.com is letting you, the fan, give us some answers in our “Best by numbers” series. Our website staff has compiled a list of eight numbers worn by notable players from different eras, and it’s up to you to vote for the best player to wear each number.
The ballot is on the right side of the page and on the bottom of the home page.
The vote on the first installment proved the fans’ sentiments lean more toward modern players than historical ones. For No. 30, Ahman Green garnered more than 80 percent of the vote to beat Hall of Famer Clarke Hinkle in a landslide. Further proof of those sentiments was found on the Packers’ official Facebook page, where fans pushed for current running back John Kuhn to get stronger consideration.
With that in mind, here’s another number worn by both a Hall of Famer and a modern-day star. Next up in the series is No. 31.
Fred Cone (1951-57)
Inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1974, Cone was a steady fullback and kicker during the franchise’s difficult decade of the 1950s.
Originally a third-round draft pick from Clemson, Cone wore No. 31 for all but his rookie year in Green Bay, where he led the team in scoring in six of his seven seasons. He led the NFL in field goals in 1955 with 16. Two years earlier, in 1953, he had his most productive season as a running back, ranking first on the team with five rushing touchdowns, second with 301 rushing yards and third with 18 receptions.
Cone was still productive in his final season in Green Bay, 1957, with two rushing TDs and a perfect 26-for-26 mark on extra points. Unfortunately for him, though, the Packers drafted his replacement at fullback in the second round the following year, a guy from Louisiana State named …
Jim Taylor (1958-66)
In nine seasons through the glory years, Taylor set franchise records for career rushing yards (8,207), rushing yards in one season (1,474 in 1962) and thousand-yard seasons (five, consecutively from 1960-64), all of which stood for more than 40 years until Ahman Green came along.
Playing on an offense with plenty of weapons, Taylor was still a workhorse, with 26 hundred-yard games in his career and five seasons with at least 20 receptions out of the backfield, including a team-leading 41 catches in 1966. He was named to five Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
From the same era as another Hall of Fame back, Jim Brown, Taylor was often compared to the Cleveland dynamo. In standing up for his guy’s fierceness as a runner, head coach Vince Lombardi reportedly once said, “Jim Brown will give you that leg and take it away from you. Jim Taylor will give it to you and then ram it through your chest.”
Al Harris (2003-09)
After establishing himself as a solid nickel corner with the Philadelphia Eagles, Harris came to Green Bay in a 2003 trade. The Packers gave up a second-round draft pick for Harris plus a fourth-round pick, essentially moving back 65 spots in the draft for a standout corner who started for the next seven seasons. What a steal.
A tough customer in many respects, Harris started every game from the 2003 opener until week four of 2008, a streak of 83 regular-season games. He came back from a lacerated spleen and missed just four games, then played the rest of ’08 and the first half of ’09 before a torn ACL ultimately ended his days with the Packers.
Harris was the team’s top corner for three years and then was paired with Charles Woodson to form one of the league’s top cover duos over the next four seasons. In that time, he intercepted 14 passes and set a single-season team record for pass break-ups with 28 in 2004.
He’s best remembered for the interception he returned for a touchdown in the 2003 playoffs to beat Seattle, the first overtime playoff game in league history ended by a defensive score. That play is commemorated with a mural just outside the Packers locker room, giving Harris a secure place in team history.