Editor’s note: The NFL is currently in a quiet period that is more quiet than usual. To help fill in that space, we are running a series to determine the best player to wear each jersey number in Cleveland Browns history. Today we try to determine the best player to wear uniform No. 8.
The NFL has seen several notable players wear uniform No. 8 throughout its 100-year history.
That list includes four members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who sported No. 8 as their primary uniform number:
- Quarterback Troy Aikman, who led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s;
- Punter Ray Guy, a six-time All-Pro selection during his 14 seasons with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders;
- Safety Larry Wilson, who was selected All-NFL six times during his career with the St. Louis Cardinals; and,
- Quarterback Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers, one of only two quarterbacks in league history to win six passing titles.
Sadly, the 10 players who have worn No 8 for the Cleveland Browns did not enjoy such success.
It is going to be difficult to find a player worthy of being selected as the best to ever wear the number in team history, so let’s look at each candidate in chronological order.
Johnny Evans punted for the Browns (and served as a backup quarterback) from 1978 to 1980. A second-round selection* in the 1978 NFL Draft - defensive end Al “Bubba” Baker went to the Detroit Lions one pick later - Evans averaged 39.5 yards per kick during his Cleveland tenure. (*Perhaps the front office was busy resting on its laurels after selecting linebacker Clay Matthews and tight end Ozzie Newsome in the first round.)
Placekicker Jeff Jaeger, who spent just one season with the Browns after being selected in the third round of the 1987 NFL Draft. Jaeger converted just 63.6 percent of his field-goal attempts that season and missed the following year with a foot injury. He went on to play seven seasons with the Raiders, being selected All-Pro in 1991, and four years with the Chicago Bears, but his 10 career games with the Browns are mostly forgettable.
Quarterback Brad Goebel had two stints with the Browns. He originally joined the team in 1992 when Cleveland acquired him from the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. Goebel completed two-of-three passes that season, missed the following year and came back to the Browns in 1994, where he appeared in one game against his former team and did not attempt a pass.
Punter Derrick Frost was another one-and-done player after spending the 2004 season with the Browns. He posted a net average of 35.4 yards per punt that season and was released the following year in training camp when the Browns opted to go with Kyle Richardson as the team’s punter. Frost would go on to play three seasons with the Washington Redskins and one year with the Green Bay Packers.
Quarterback Trent Dilfer might be the most accomplished player on the list as he played 13 seasons and is one of the most unlikely starting quarterbacks to ever be on the winning side of a Super Bowl team. His one year in Cleveland (2005) came at the end of his career, however, and is imminently forgettable as Dilfer made 11 starts, completed 59.8 percent of his passes, and tossed 11 touchdowns to go along with 12 interceptions.
Placekicker Billy Cundiff had two separate tours with the Browns. He opened the season in 2009 and was perfect on his kicks through the first five games of the season while filling in for Phil Dawson, who was recovering from a calf injury. He would go on to kick for the Baltimore Ravens for three seasons and the Washington Redskins for one, before returning to the Browns in 2013. Cundiff spent two seasons with Cleveland (2013 and 2014), and finished his time with the Browns with 211 career points, the sixth-most by a kicker in franchise history.
Punter Richmond McGee appeared in one game for the Browns in 2011, punting eight times for a 36.6-yard average in the season-opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Quarter Josh Johnson appeared in one game for the Browns, the season-ending loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. He Browns legacy is losing a fumble when he sacked on his lone play as a member of the team.
Punter Andy Lee has earned three All-Pro honors during his 16-year career, although those all came with the San Francisco 49ers prior to his time with the Browns. Lee was solid in his one season in Cleveland (2015) as he averaged 46.7 yards per punt.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan spent two seasons with the Browns (2016 and 2017) and made a lone start among his eight appearances. That start came in 2017 against the Houston Texans and Hogan threw three interceptions and took four sacks as he did his part to contribute to the Browns going 0-16 that season.
That is quite the list, don’t you think?
OK, we’ve put this off long enough, time to make a selection.
After careful consideration, Cundiff comes through as the pick. Nothing against Lee, but he was only with the team for one season and while he might not be an incorrect pick, we’ll give the nod to Cundiff based off the fact that he did more for the team in his two-and-a-half seasons with the Browns.
Who is the best player to wear No. 8 in Browns history?
This poll is closed