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2015 NFL Countdown: The History of Arizona Cardinals Jersey Number 88

Not your normal day in Cardinals Jersey Countdown when we pay tribute to a retired jersey number. Only four players have ever worn No. 88 for the Big Red and two were very special.

Only four players have worn No. 88 for the Cardinals going back as far as we can with our records and there's a very good reason for that — nobody wears No. 88 anymore.  Two of today's players were very special indeed and the other two not so much.

So let's get the preliminaries out of the way and say that Floyd Sagely (1957) and Fred Hyatt (1968-1972) made virtually no impact for the Chicago Cardinals and St. Louis Football Cardinals respectively.

Sonny Randle on the other hand made a huge impact with the Big Red beginning in the last season of the Chicago Cardinals.  Sonny played for 8 years altogether for the team (1959-1966) and became a hero in the city of St. Louis.

I think we all have etched into our minds those players (and their jersey numbers) who were starters when we first became fans and Sonny Randle is one of mine.  Playing opposite Bobby Joe Conrad (40), Sonny racked up some mighty impressive statistics wearing a Cardinals jersey to the tune of 5,438 yards receiving on 328 receptions and 60 touchdowns — not bad in 12 and 14 games seasons.

In only his second season in the NFL, Randle led the league in receiving touchdowns with 16 (in a 12 game season no less) that has stood the test of time.  Sonny was named consensus First Team All-Pro and two years later had one of the biggest games statistically by a wide receiver in NFL history when he caught 16 passes from Charley Johnson (12) for 256 yards in a game against the New York Giants.

Tragedy Strikes

J.V. Cain (1974-1977) also played for the St. Louis Football Cardinals as a pass grabbing tight end and had quickly become one of Jim Hart's favorite targets.  J.V. was a member of the team that first became known as the Cardiac Cardinals in 1975 when their 11-3 regular season record included 7 games won in the last minute of play!

Having missed the entire 1978 season due to injury and raring for a comeback was when the unthinkable happened.

James Victor Cain died of a congestive heart failure in Cardinals training camp on his 28th birthday in 1979.  The Cardinals immediately retired No. 88 in his honor.

I have a feeling that J.V. is looking down and pulling for the Big Red to win it all this year. Rest in peace J. V. Cain.

With 88 days remaining until the kickoff to the season, I think today would be a good day to raise a toast to J.V. Cain.

For a listing of the entire collection of stories in the Countdown to the Season series, all you have to do is click here.