Editor’s note: The NFL Draft is over. No one is completely sure when training camp and the regular season will begin for the NFL. So we may be entering an NFL quiet period that is more quiet than usual.
To help fill in that space, we are starting a series to determine the best player to wear each jersey number in Cleveland Browns history. Today we present the best player to wear uniform No. 3.
There have been a few positions on the Cleveland Browns that have been filled by a small handful of players over the years.
One of those has been at placekicker, where the Browns for the most part employed just three kickers - Lou Groza (1946 through 1967), Don Cockroft (1968 through 1980) and Matt Bahr (1981 through 1989).
There was little expectation that Matt Stover would continue that tradition when he joined the Browns in 1991, but Stover proved to be up to the challenge, which is why he is the best player to wear uniform No. 3 in franchise history.
Stover was selected by the New York Giants in the 12th round of the 1990 NFL Draft, but spent his rookie season on injured reserve as the Giants went on to win Super Bowl XXV over the Buffalo Bills.
It was not a lost year, however, as Stover told giants.com in 2010:
“That was a great learning year for me. Matt Bahr was the kicker. Raul Allegre got hurt and was the incumbent that Matt Bahr replaced, because I couldn’t come off injured reserve after the fourth game. Consider I was a rookie watching all this going on. I was paying attention, watching these guys how they handle themselves on and off the field so I was able to go out there and compete.”
That offseason, the Browns hired Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick as their head coach. Belichick took one look at the roster, saw that placekicker Jerry Kauric had converted just 70 percent of his field goals, and turned to his former team to sign Stover as a Plan B free agent.
Stover was not much better his first three seasons with the Browns as he only converted 72.6 percent of his field goals. He found his groove in 1994, however, as he made 93 percent of his field goals to help the Browns land a playoff berth.
Stover spent five seasons with the Browns, making 80 percent of his field goals but only missing two extra points. He moved with the team to Baltimore after the 1995 season and kicked for the Ravens for 13 more seasons. He played 10 games with the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 before retiring at the age of 41.
When he retired, Stover was the last remaining player from the original Browns still on an NFL roster.
While he may have only played five seasons with the Browns, Stover’s talent was unquestionable and he is a deserving selection as the best player to wear No. 3 in franchise history.
Honorable mention: Quarterback Derek Anderson, who played for the Browns from 2006 through 2009. While the quarterback position is more important than placekicker, Anderson really only had that 10-game stretch in 2007 where he was a difference maker.
Even though he was only on the Browns for four games in 1986, placekicker Mark Moseley deserves an honorable mention for his game-winning field goal in the double overtime playoff win against the New York Jets that season. (We’ll overlook the three field goals he missed earlier in the game.)
Who was the best player to wear No. 3 in Browns history?
This poll is closed