On Wednesday, Brent Axe took a crack at the question of which former Syracuse Orange football players should have their numbers retired. As he points out, there aren’t a ton of retired numbers for SU right now. The list includes the number 44 (“technically” unretired), Donovan McNabb’s No. 5, Don McPherson’s No. 9, Larry Csonka’s No. 39 and John Mackey’s No. 88.
Brent spells out a pretty extensive list of players that could be considered for number retirement, so would highly recommend you look through the full article for a few you may have forgotten about. But for our purposes here, we’ll just evaluate our top five.
No. 54, DE Dwight Freeney
Freeney may be at the end of his NFL career after 15 seasons and a potential Hall of Fame resume. But before he was a star in the pros, he was an All-American at Syracuse, collecting the single-season school sack record (17.5) in 2001. He’s been a bit busy on weekends for the past couple decades, so retiring his number may not have been as feasible. But once he calls it quits, this one’s a no-brainer.
No. 47, RB Joe Morris
Morris turned down wearing 44 while at SU, but his numbers were every bit as good as the players that wore the famed number. He’s the career leader in rushing yards by over 800 yards, plus the single-season and single-game yardage record holder as well. His teams (1978-81) were bad, so it’s often forgotten just how great he was as a member of the Orangemen. Seems sensible to retire 47 to commemorate what was a fine career.
No. 8, WR Marvin Harrison
This one’s a little weird, if only for the question around the gun incident/murder questions from several years back. But if we’re only looking at his statistical record, it’s very cut-and-dry. Harrison’s the Orange’s career leader in receiving yards and has the second-highest single-season yardage total as well. He’s also second in touchdown catches and fourth in career receptions.
No. 72, DE Tim Green
If you’re including Freeney, then you have to include Green as well. The Syracuse native owns the school’s career sacks record at 45.5, has three of the school’s four highest single-season sack totals and is in the College Football Hall of Fame. One of the school’s small collection of truly elite pass-rushers.
No. 53, C John Flannery
Offensive line isn’t the flashiest position group, or the one to get many jersey retirements. But that shouldn’t stop Syracuse from honoring Flannery, who was a three-time All-American and a stalwart center for some of the Orangemen’s best recent teams (1987-90). We’ve talked about No. 44 being held up as something for players to aspire to in the backfield. Perhaps Flannery’s number could work for the line, where it’s even tougher to recruit elite talent.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg on players you could consider here, so by all means, recommend your own list below. Which of these five should be moved out of the “top” group? Who would you add? Share your thoughts below in the comments.