We are now down to 81 days until the Arizona Cardinal season.
Number 81 has been worn by far less players than others in the team's history, but that is because there have been more very good players to wear it. 81 tends to be a bigger name in receivers.
Right now, it is receiver Dan Buckner who wears 81. He was an undrafted rookie that joined the team last year out of the University of Arizona. He was on the practice squad last season. We'll see if he can do more than that.
Before this season, from 2010-2013, it was worn by tight end Jim Dray. He was a seventh round pick that stuck around for four seasons, first as a special teams contributor and then as a starting tight end and very reliable player at the position last season.
Before Dray, you all know who wore it -- it was 'Q', Anquan Boldin. He wore it from 2003-2009. He was a second round pick in '02 and became the heart and soul of those bad teams. He played hard and was adored. He burst out on the scene with a 13-catch, 208-yard debut. He caught 586 passes in seven years for over 11,000 yards and scored 65 touchdowns. He surpassed 1000 yards receiving in five of his seven seasons and had over 100 receptions in a season twice.
Boldin left with bad blood with the team, as he felt betrayed because of his contract. He was traded to the Ravens, where he won a Super Bowl and then to the 49ers, where he played in another.
He was one of the team's best players.
Before Boldin, from 1995-2002, it was Frank Sanders, also drafted in the second round. He was the team's best receiver for much of the 90s. Twice he went over 1000 yards in a season. In eight seasons here, he caught 493 passes for over 6500 yards and 24 scores.
From 1991-94, it was the disappointing Randall Hill. Hill was acquired via trade. The Cards sent the Dolphins a first round pick to get the speedy receiver. He wasn't ever quite the impact player they had hoped, but he did have a decent 1992, getting 58 catches for 861 yards. He wasn't bad, but he was not impactful.
Another Cardinals great wore the number from 1982-1990 -- Roy Green. Like J.T. Smith, fans in Arizona only got to see him in the twilight of his career. He played wearing number 25 from 1979-81, and he was a returner and defensive back. He had three 1000-yard seasons receiving and led the NFL in touchdown catches with 14 in 1983.
Receiver Mark Bell wore it in 1980-81. He was a punt returner in 1980 and caught eight balls in 1981.
Tight end Jackie Smith had number 81 for 15 years -- 1966-77. In those 15 seasons, he caught 480 passes for almost 8000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Before Smith were these guys:
1962 -- WR Jack Elwell
1960 -- LB Ted Bates
1954-59 -- DB Richard "Night Train" Lane (Cool name)
1953 -- DE-C-LB George Schmidt
1952 -- DE Frank Polsfoot
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