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2015 NFL Countdown: The History of Arizona Cardinals Jersey Number 85

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One of the most explosive players of all time wore today's jersey number as did a couple of unexpected names. We're one day closer to kickoff as we watch the best-ever celebration by a 'Cardinal' wearing No. 85!

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Not as many players today but that's partly because one player claimed the No. 85 for himself for 12 seasons while providing many thrills for Cardinals fans along the way.  Another player was best known for his work in the broadcast booth and yet another 'Cardinal' is best known for his celebration. Today we take a look at those players who wore the BIG EIGHT-FIVE for the Big Red.

We'll list all the players that have worn today's number chronologically making note of those players that mattered along the way while leaving plenty of space for your comments below to fill in the gaps after you vote on your favorite.

The Chicago Years

Ralph Thomas 1952 (E-DE) was another of those players prior to the mid-70's that played both defensive end and offensive end (listed as 'E') wearing a jersey number in the 80's.

Pat Summerall (1954-1957) is best known for his years in the broadcasting booth (announcing 16 Superbowls) mostly alongside John Madden.  Before that, Summerall was a Cardinals placekicker who was also listed as yet another one of those E-DE's.  In all, Pat scored 250 points for the Big Red.

The St. Louis Years

Perry Richards 1960 spent one year with the St. Louis Cardinals wearing No. 85 after one year with the Chicago Cardinals (1959) wearing jersey No. 83.  Unfortunately, Richards fell just shy of joining the 100-Club (100 career yards with the Cardinals) with a combined 99 yards receiving in his 'Tale of Two Cities'.

Taz Anderson (1961-1964) would get my vote for best name from today's players.  'Taz' played tight end for the Big Red and was able join the 1000-Club with 1,041 yards on 69 receptions with 5 touchdowns (including a 78 scamper).

Mel Gray (1971-1982) would be the player that gets my vote for the player who wore No. 85 best though.  A true speedster with soft hands, Mel was the favorite target of the team's all-time passing leader Jim Hart (17) and a key component in what was to become known as Air Coryell.  If you were an NFL cornerback, you didn't want to have to line up against Mel Gray.

Gray spent his entire career in the city of St. Louis accumulating 351 receptions for 6,644 yards (18.9 yards per reception!) and 45 touchdowns.  Mel was also an explosive weapon (along with Terry Metcalf) of the 1975 team that won 7 games in the last minute of play — earning their new nickname Cardiac Cards and one of nine Cardinals Pro-Bowler's that year after posting an 11-3 regular season record.  Mel Gray led the league in touchdown receptions and was voted AP First Team All-Pro.

Freddie Jones 2002-2004
Tim Jorden 1990-1991

Jay Novacek (1986-1989) was another one of those players the team should have held on to but didn't.  After three seasons in St. Louis (wearing No. 84 his rookie year) and another two with the Phoenix Cardinals, Novecek then jumped ship and joined the dreaded Dallas Cowboys.

The Desert Years

Tim Jorden 1990-1991
Derek Ware 1992 1994

Rob Moore (1995-1999) played for the Arizona Cardinals for five years after spending his first five seasons with the New York Jets.  A very popular player in the valley of the sun, Moore racked up 5,510 yards and 27 TD's before retiring from the NFL.

From the snap of the ball to the whistle Rob Moore also bore a striking resemblance to Rod 'Show me the money' Tidwell (doesn't rhyme with Bidwill) who gets my vote for the best celebration by a No. 85.

That was hard act to follow for these guys:

Freddie Jones 2002-2004
John Bronson 2005
Jerheme Urban 2007-2009
Early Doucet 2011-2012

Which brings us to the player that currently wears the BIG EIGHT-FIVE

Darren Fells made the Cardinals roster last year as a 'project' having played professional basketball internationally for five years.  With great physical tools and a great desire to succeed, Fells has many feeling there are great things ahead for him in the NFL.  Amazingly, this year Darren finds himself as the team's most experienced tight end (in terms of NFL game experience that is).

Have favorite memories of these guys that have worn No. 85 for the Cardinals? If so, after voting for who you think wore it best please feel free to talk amongst yourselves.


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