Thursday, August 17, 2006

Retire Gene Hickerson's Number Now

I did a double take when I saw the photo of center #4 that accompanied today's propaganda dispatch from the Browns' website. Seriously, why would they hand out Gene Hickerson's number to a faceless journeyman?

When the Browns do little things like this, I just shake my head. Don't get me wrong--I've got no beef with Ross Tucker, and like every fan, I hope he steps up in a big way. My problem is with the front office. They really just don't understand what the Browns and their history mean to fans, so they hand out Gene Hickerson's number to the stiff of the week, and trot out Jim Brown as a shill for the party line every time the shit hits the fan.

Still, this little injustice pales in comparison to the far greater one perpetrated by Hall of Fame voters against Gene Hickerson and some of the other great offensive linemen of the 1960s. They let the greatest linemen of the era, Jim Parker, into the Hall, but while Hickerson and the Packers' Jerry Kramer both made the all-decade team, neither of them has been deemed worthy of admission to Canton. They aren't alone. As this article from Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z bears out, there are at least six offensive linemen from that era who deserve serious consideration for a spot in the Hall.

There's not much the Browns can do to get Hickerson what he deserves from the Hall, but there's one thing they can do to show that they understand the magnitude of his contribution to the Cleveland Browns: retire the man's number. With all due respect to another great #66, Tackle Tony Jones, it's Hickerson's number, and nobody should wear it again.


chocolate starfish said...

Hickerson couldn't be more deserving. Watch the films of both Brown and Kelly and you'll see who led them down the field with his blocking. He played forever in the demanding position of pulling guard and consistently was excellent.Having received little fanfare during his superb career, he is the quintessential hard working, gifted individual who typifies what is best about this town. He deserves to have his number retired at a halftime ceremony and to be welcome to the HOF ... with an apology.

Anonymous said...

Amen Choc. Starfish!! As a youngster growing up and watching Browns in the 60's and 70's, Gene Hickerson made a huge impression on me, and made me want to become a guard in football. There is nothing like pulling on a sweep and taking one or two guys out while the back makes a big gain or a TD. The jersey needs to be retired, Mr. Lerner, and HOF should induct him w/ the final vote later this year. God Bless Gene Hickerson--Long may you run.

Uncle Busy