I suppose its time for me to finish of this salute to the greatest Riders by number that started back in April. I was kinda holding out hope that I could talk about actual football instead but I have a feeling that if I wait on the CFL to figure out a plan I won’t need to wear a fake white wig and beard because I will actually be that old. Look you have the notoriously ill-planned CFL dealing with the government (known for their speedy response times)… they should honestly just submit the 2021 restart plan now if they want approval to play by next summer.
So back to the salute.
We finish off with the 90s and a look at best pass rushers in franchise history. Well technically most of the best pass rushers didn’t wear 90 so its some of the best pass rushers.
90 – If this was a self-nomination then clearly Stevie Baggs would win. Not only would he consider himself the best player to wear 90 but the best defensive player ever. Brent Hawkins had potential but a bum shoulder always limited him. So although he really only had one good season, and it was arguably due mostly to playing opposite of John Chick, DL Stevie Baggs takes this on account of a lack of competition.
91 – In the early 2000’s there wasn’t a lot of good going on. We were building to better things but the on field payoff would not be for a couple years. DL Demetrious Maxie was one of the few bright spots during that period, notching a career high 11 sacks in 2000.
92 – The winner of this number has had a very odd career as a Rider. He made the team straight out of junior and had his formative years in green and white. Then just as he was about to hit his prime, a certain GM (not known for always making the best decisions) left him inexplicably unprotected in the expansion draft and Ottawa wisely swooped him and benefited from his prime years. The we repatriated him after a 4 year hiatus. Interestingly enough only 3 of his career 24 sacks have come as a Rider. I maintain that he’s on a sharp downward trend in his career but DL Zach Evans still remains the best #92.
93 – His career didn’t end on the best of terms (there was some legal issues) but prior to all that DL Terrius George put up 32 sacks and was a member of the 2013 Grey Cup team .
94 – This was almost a default number. There are not a lot of people period to wear #94, let alone good people to wear it. Kyle Mitchell played 4 games and had 10 tackles. Dario Romero played a full season in 2011 (a fact I’d completely forgotten about). That’s pretty much the list unless you want me to look into the best player to wear 94 in training camp and get cut. So DL Dario Romero gets it, I guess.
95 – A couple solid Canadian options at 95. Mullinder was never a top end player but he was underrated rotational contributor who played an important role during his tenure. But this one has to go to DL Rickey Foley. He spent just 2 seasons in Green and white but he had 20 sacks in time period and was big part of the defense that led us to the Cup in 2013. Man I think back to that D-line… Foley, Chick, George, Hall. That’s almost not fair.
96 – There’s an obvious choice here and I am going to make it but I want to preface it with the following. In terms of top all-time personalities there is no denying this person’s greatness. But on the field I would argue that he was a decent to above average DT who benefited from playing alongside a damn near unstoppable beast. But lines like "fat, sassy pigs" and "I would make that his on Jesus himself" earn DL Scott Schultz this one.
97 – Without question, the best pass rusher to play for the Riders in the 2000s. He’s 4th all-time in sacks with 53 sacks (a number eclipsed only by the number of children he fathered). Twice an all-star as a Rider, Most Outstanding defensive player in 2009 and one of 3 people ever to earn 2 Grey Cup rings as a Rider player… oh and he just happened to do all that as a diabetic. DL John Chick.
98 – I’ve seen a lot of dominant defensive players for the Riders but precious few that you could say were too good for the CFL. In his prime, DL Nate Davis was one of those. He legit should have been the NFL but that didn’t work out so Shivers scooped him and instantly made our D-line a force. Through that ’03-’04 period he was a one man wrecking crew. Doubled, tripled, he commanded a ton of attention. Also his signature dreadlocks pretty much guaranteed that his helmet would come off a minimum of twice a game. He was a scary dude.
99 – Last but not least, the final number in this salute. Shomari William wore this number but that one didn’t really pan out. Alex Hall wore it, in his brief stint with the Riders (legitimately a great player but was only really here for the 2013 playoff run and a return for the 2015 season… what a wonderful year that was sigh). So this one goes to DL AC Leonard. At first I was convinced he was a product of the Chris Jones system and playing opposite of Willie Jefferson. But he has become a consistent performer regardless of system of teammates… not bad for a converted tight end. Legitimately probably the only Chris Jones “project” that actually panned out.