Packers.com has been letting you, the fan, give us some answers in our “Best by numbers” series. We compiled a list of eight numbers worn by notable players from different eras, and it’s been up to you to vote for the best player to wear each number.
The vote on the previous installment, No. 88, was the closest of the series thus far. It went to Ron Kramer, who narrowly edged strong support for Bubba Franks and Jermichael Finley.
The series concludes today with the eighth and final installment, No. 90.
The ballot is on the right side of the page, and on the home page.
Ezra Johnson (1977-87)
Sacks didn’t become an official statistic until the back half of Johnson’s career, so his 41.5 sacks from 1982-87 don’t tell the whole story. Unofficially, it’s estimated Johnson had a sack total in the mid to upper 80s, which would put the defensive end more than 10 ahead of the Packers’ “all-time leader,” Kabeer Gbaja Biamila (74.5).
Johnson was the Packers’ second draft pick in the first round in 1977, at No. 28 overall, as he and Mike Butler were brought in to fix the team’s defensive woes. In just his second season in 1978, Johnson unofficially had 20.5 sacks, which would still stand as a single-season franchise record. He ranked second in the NFL and was voted to the Pro Bowl that year.
Tony Bennett (1990-93)
Drafted in the first round in 1990 at No. 18 overall, Bennett racked up 36 sacks in just four seasons, leading the team in the middle two years with 13 in 1991 and 13.5 in 1992.
Playing outside linebacker opposite Bryce Paup on a solid LB corps that also included Johnny Holland and Brian Noble on the inside, Bennett stepped in for sack machine Tim Harris and produced. He eventually signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 1994 and finished his career there, but Bennett will always be known for hailing from one of the all-time great hometowns – Alligator, Miss.
Vonnie Holliday (1998-2002)
Another first-round pick, No. 19 overall in 1998, Holliday never had a double-digit sack season in five years with the Packers, but he made the transition from defensive tackle in college to defensive end in the NFL and was a solid run-stuffer as well as consistent pass-rusher.
Holliday earned all-rookie honors in ’98 with eight sacks, his Green Bay high, and in 2002 he broke Paup’s team record with five sacks against the Buffalo Bills on a frigid December day at Lambeau Field. Paup’s 4.5 sacks in a September 1991 game against Tampa Bay had stood as Green Bay’s single-game record for 11 years.
B.J. Raji (2009-present)
The fourth of four first-round draft picks to choose from here, and the highest overall selection at No. 9 in 2009, Raji has become irreplaceable as the nose tackle in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme.
Raji has proven stout against the run and productive as an inside pass-rusher. His 6.5 sacks last season were an impressive total for an interior lineman, and who could forget his playoff heroics – lining up at fullback to lead John Kuhn on a 1-yard TD plunge in Atlanta, and returning an interception for a score in Chicago.
There you have it for No. 90, and that’s all for our Best by Numbers series. Don’t forget to cast your final vote.