As we count down to June 24th for the unveiling of new 2011 uniforms for the Buffalo Bills we take a look back at the franchise’s uniform history with anecdotes, stories and recollections from those that experienced the history first hand. Our latest installment is a who’s who involving Bills jersey numbers. What jersey numbers have been worn the most players and by whom? We also cover the least worn jersey numbers and those players who wore the most different numbers in their time with the club.
Top 5 jersey numbers worn by the most players
5 – Three-way tie - #25, #33 and #54 have all been worn by 21 different players in franchise history. The team’s first Hall of Famer, O.J. Simpson, is among the group who wore #33 as it was the original jersey number he was issued.
4 - #87 – The inability for any one player to have a long career with the Bills wearing this number is why there have been 22 players who have put this jersey on their back.
3 - #75 – 23 Bills players have donned this jersey number with the most notable being Howard ‘House’ Ballard.
2 - #21 – 24 different players have worn 21 in team history, with former first-round pick
1 - #86 – 26 players have worn this jersey number, the most for any one number in team history. It’s currently worn by second-year wide receiver
Top 5 jersey numbers worn by the fewest players
5 – Seven numbers are tied for this spot having each been worn by six different players. They are #12, #16, #18, #48, #66, #95 and #97.
4 – #9 –
3 – Four-way tie - #3, #19, #44, #94 have all been only worn by four players each. Elbert “Golden Wheels” Dubenion and Aaron Schobel are the most noteworthy in this group.
2 - Three-way tie - #1, #4, #15 have each been worn by three players. The last to wear 15 is
1 - #2 has only been worn by one player and he did the number proud. Steve Christie is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with over 1,000 career points.
Top 6 players that wore the most different jersey numbers
6 – WR Glenn Bass (1961-66) (#27, 85, 88) – The speedy wideout of the Bills AFL championship days wore 88 his first two seasons with the Bills, then changed to 27 in 1963, before wearing 85 during the AFL title years.
5 – LB Harry Jacobs (1963-69) (#54, 56, 64) – After briefly wearing 56, Jacobs wore 54 his first season with the Bills, he wore 64 after that and nothing else.
4 – DE/OT Ken Jones (1976-86) (#69, 72, 73) – In his first two seasons as a defensive end he wore 69 as a rookie and then 73 the following season. When he made the permanent move to left tackle in his third NFL season he wore 72 for the rest of his career in Buffalo.
3 – RB Sammy Morris (2000-03) (#31, 33, 45) – As a rookie Morris wore 45, but switched to 33 for his next two seasons, before changing again to 31. He switched to 31 out of respect to Sam Gash, who returned for a second stint with the Bills in 2003 and wore 33.
2 – DT Steve Okoniewski (1972-73) (#60, 79, 88) – For a guy that only appeared in 15 games for the Bills he had his share of numbers. After originally being issued 60, Okoniewski changed to 88 his rookie year only to change to 79 for his second and last season with Buffalo.
1 – DE Tom Day (1961-66, ’68) (#60, 64, 78, 88, 89) – The former offensive and defensive lineman is the Bills player that made fans dive into their game programs more than any other. He wore a different jersey number each of his first four seasons with the Bills. He began as an offensive lineman wearing 78 in his first season with the club. He then wore 60 for the 1962 season, followed by 64 in ’63. Come the following year he changed to 88 and held onto it for three seasons. After spending a year with the Chargers in ’67, Day returned to the Bills in ’68 and changed his number a fifth and final time to 89.