Monday, April 05, 2010
Jersey Monday: Heath Shuler
OK, seriously, I'm not going to try and modify this old Heath Shuler jersey into a Donovan McNabb jersey, but that would be the economically sound thing to do. Instead, I'll probably end up buying a new McNabb jersey, and this monstrosity will stay boxed up in my basement.
I remember when I bought this Shuler jersey. It was the summer of 1996, and Shuler was already looking like a bust. He'd started 8 games as a rookie in 1994, going an unimpressive 1-7. He went 3-2 the following season, but it was pretty clear the Redskins were going in a different direction.
Of course, this was the pre-Internet era of jersey shopping, which meant the manufacturers (Champion, at the time) only made 1 or 2 players per team, and you were lucky if anything other than your local team showed up in your area. The Redskins happened to have enough of a national following to get stocked at a JC Penny in Connecticut, but Shuler was my only option. He rewarded my "faith" in him by having his best season as a Redskin in '96, going the entire year without throwing an interception (oh, yeah, he played in one game and didn't throw a pass. FAIL.). Shuler was traded to the Saints in the offseason and didn't play in the NFL after 1997.
No one wore #5 for Washington in 1997, but in '98 the number re-entered circulation, going to kicker Brett Conway. The former Penn State kicker was with Washington on and off from 1998-2002. #5 went unused again in '03, then journeyman kicker Jeff Chandler picked up the mantle of mediocrity in '04. He was the last player to wear #5 in a game for the Redskins, as it went unused until last year, when Colt Brennan made it his number, but never played in a game. Brennan will give up 5 for McNabb, assuming Brennan even has a jersey to give up (Washington's got something of a log-jam at quarterback now, with McNabb, Sexy Rexy, Jason Campbell and Colt Brennan).
It's not like 5 has ever been a popular Redskins number. The last guy to wear it before Shuler was Obed Ariri, a replacement player during the '87 strike. Before him, it belonged to punter Jeff Hayes from '82-85. Before that you have to go all the way back to Curt Knight, who wore #5 for five seasons from '69-73 and sadly is probably the best Redskins player to ever wear #5. I can't even find evidence of another quarterback besides Shuler wearing #5 in a game for the Redskins (preseason doesn't count), so it's not like McNabb has a lot to live up to.
Back to the Shuler jersey for a second. This is probably the least-worn of my Redskins jerseys, not counting my Chris Cooley jersey which I just got a few months ago. It was NEVER a good jersey to own, but I wanted a Redskins jersey with a name on the back so bad that I settled for this thing. A few months later I got a Michael Westbrook jersey -- and how crappy do you have to be that Michael Westbrook is considered an upgrade over you?