Wisconsin has quietly built up quite the history of great professional athletes. Between the Bucks, Brewers, and Green Bay Packers, a plethora of high-profile athletes have spent any number of years in the great state of Wisconsin. In this series, we will take a look at the best players to wear each jersey number. In this edition, we are looking at the best players who wore numbers 36 through 40.
Number 36- LeRoy Butler: Green Bay Packers (1990-2001)
Number 36 was not first worn by LeRoy Butler, nor was he the last to wear 36, but he is by far the BEST to wear 36. The inventor of the most iconic touchdown celebration in NFL history is the only choice for best Wisconsin Athlete to wear number 36.
The fact that LeRoy Butler is not in the Hall of Fame in Canton is nothing short of ridiculous. Not once, but twice was he named to the 1990s All-Decade team. He made four Pro Bowls and was selected as an All Pro four times. His career, statistically, resembles that of Brian Dawkins, who played after Butler and has been elected to the Hall of Fame.
In 12 seasons with the Packers, Butler amassed 38 interceptions and 889 tackles. His leadership in the locker room was invaluable, especially during the 1996 Superbowl run. Though not a native of Wisconsin, LeRoy Butler is now part of Wisconsin culture. No one deserves this spot more. Now it’s the Hall of Fame’s turn to take notice.
Honorable Mention: Nick Collins (Packers)
Number 37- Tyrone Williams: Green Bay Packers (1996-2002)
This was a close one, as Sam Shields also wore number 37. However, the nod goes to Tyrone Williams, one of the most underrated corner backs in Green Bay history. It was a tough decision, though. Both played corner back, both had 19 career interceptions (Shields had 18 as a Packer), and both help the Packers win the Superbowl during the respective rookie seasons.
Tyrone Williams played for seven seasons with the Packers. During that time, he recorded 19 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, 44 pass deflections, and 469 tackles. He only missed one game during his entire tenure with the Packers. He had a key interception in the NFC Championship game against the Panthers. As mentioned, the Packers won the Superbowl during his rookie season.
Williams’s best season came in 2001. During that campaign, he had four interceptions, one touchdown, 12 pass deflections, and 89 tackles. After his time in Green Bay ended, Williams played one season each with Atlanta and Dallas.
Honorable Mention: Sam Shields; Jeff Suppan (just kidding)
Number 38- Arnie Herber
Much is celebrated about Packer Hall of Fame quarterbacks Bart Starr and Brett Favre, who are often pictured with future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, did you know the Packers have four quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame?
Arnie Herber played for the Green Bay Packers from 1930-1938. During his eight seasons, he led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns three times. He also led the league in completion percentage twice. Most importantly, the Packers won four championships during his tenure, decades before Montana, Bradshaw, and Brady.
Arnie Herber was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966. While his passing number certainly are not impressive compared to modern-day quarterbacks, he deserves mention here. After all, he does hold company with Bart Starr and Brett Favre as Packers’ quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame.
Honorable Mention: Tramon Williams (Packers)
Number 39- Chris Capuano: Milwaukee Brewers (2004-2010; 2016)
If we’re being honest, Clarke Hinkle could (and maybe should) be here, as he also wore number 39. However, he was highlighted as the best number 27, so we will give a nod to Chris Capuano.
Chris Capuano came to Milwaukee as part of the trade that sent Richie Sexson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. During his time as a Brewer, Capuano went 45-49 with a 4.33 ERA. Great? No. However, he was a decent starter during a rebuilding time in the franchise’s history.
Capuano did have one fantastic standout season. In 2005, he went 18-12 with a 3.99 ERA in a league-leading 35 starts. Unfortunately, a heavy workload in 2005 and 2006 led to arm injuries. His ERA ballooned to 5.10 in 2007, and he missed both 2008 and 2009 as he recovered.
Capuano returned in 2010, but was never the same pitcher that he had been. He bounced around the league for a while before returning to Milwaukee to finish his career in 2016.
Honorable Mention: Dave Parker (Brewers- one season)
Number 40- Tom Brown: Green Bay Packers (1964-1968)
Tom Brown is not a name many people bring up when they talk about Packers’ greats. However, he was one of the starting starting safeties on the Packers’ teams that won three starting championships in the 1960s. An unsung hero, of sorts, he is our selection as the greatest player to wear number 40 in Wisconsin sports history.
Before Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, Tom Brown played both professional baseball and professional football. The difference was that he did not play both at the same time and he was a horrible baseball player. In his one season with the Washington Senators (1963), Brown hit .147/.227/.207 with one home run and four RBI.
Brown’s tough season in the Majors led him to Green Bay, who had chosen him in the second round of the 1963 NFL Draft. Needless to say, the results were much better for Brown on the gridiron than they were on the diamond. In five seasons with the Packers, Brown never missed a single game and amassed 13 interceptions and six fumble recoveries.
Coach Vince Lombardi was always impressed by Brown. He respected Brown’s decision to play baseball for a year, and respected Brown’s courage to tell him that in the first place. He praised him for having a short-term memory when it came to mistakes. So impressed was Lombardi that he traded for Brown in order to have him play for him in Washington. However, Brown injured his shoulder and only played one game for the Redskins. That, and the death of Lombardi, led to his retirement in 1970.
Honorable Mention: Ervin (not Magic) Johnson (Bucks)
MORE IN THE SERIES
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