Monday’s Prime Numbers looks at No. 34

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The Prime Numbers series on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk continues Monday, with a number that has been worn by multiple Hall of Famers and one guy who would have made it if his hip hadn’t been irreversibly damaged in January 1991.

No. 34 takes center stage, and we’ll look at the results of your votes for the best to ever don the digits.

Go ahead and vote for two, since we assume Walter Payton would get 100 percent of the vote if we allowed only one.

Then, tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET Monday for the one-hour edition of the program.  Unless you live in Portugal.  If so, you’re not invited.

48 responses to “Monday’s Prime Numbers looks at No. 34

  1. There’s two “O’s” in Goose, there is one “T” in Payton. Great list, but being a fan from an opposing team in the same division, it’s Walter Payton and then everybody else.

  2. raider…don’t you mean he got hurt so badly playing football that his baseball career ended too?

  3. Joe Perry is not getting the respect he is due, he was amazing … I voted for Walter but they were all gr8.

  4. Don’t get me wrong Bo Jackson was a phenomenal athlete but the only plausible explanation for Bo Jackson finishing above Earl Campbell is those who voted for Jackson never saw Campbell play.

  5. Payton is amongst the greatest players of all time, and it can be argued he’s the greatest RB of all time. Those others were fine players, but I don’t understand how anyone who has followed the sport could vote for anyone other than Payton. He succeeded on some bad Bears teams, and played a good chunk of his career on offenses without much else. Guys like Sanders and especially E. Smith had pro-bowlers on their offense alongside them. The first Bears player, other than Payton, to get a pro-bowl nod during Payton’s tenure came in 1985, ten years after Payton entered the league. His accomplishments, breaking the rushing record at the time chief among them, is amazing considering that for a large chunk of his career, was THE Bears offense.

  6. why is the guitar player for Aerosmith on here? Bo Jackson was the best athlete of all time but Walter is the best football player to ever wear the number.

  7. @hurricanegrabowski

    I completely agree. Adrian Peterson carries his offense nowadays but even he doesn’t compare to what Walter did for the bears all those years. I only bring up Adrian to have a comparison for people who can’t remember Walter playing. He was truly great. Still the greatest in my opinion. And I’m not a bears fan.

  8. I love Walter, and voted for him… but this was the toughest of these polls that I’ve seen. Bo may have been up there had he stayed healthy… Earl Campbell was an absolute Beast…. Thurman was an unsung hero of the Bills teams that went to 4 straight Superbowls… Walker was an exciting player every time he touched the ball.. and those that don’t know who Joe Perry don’t have any idea about the history of the game…… Ultimately, Waldo was the best to wear 34 though…..

  9. Bo Jackson never had a 1000 yard season and had 16 TD’s total for his career. Earl had almost as many yards in one season (1934) as Bo had all time and he had a season with 19 TDs as well as 71 for his career.

    Bo could have been great. Earl was great.

  10. Walter Payton carried the Bears.. I watched him destroy a Vikings D in 77 whose best days were past prime but still pretty good…he was what AP is today … The best in the game that dominates games

  11. IMO the greatest 34s:

    1 Payton: I have only OJ Simpson ahead of him all time.
    2 Campbell
    3 Walker
    4 James Wilder
    5 William Andrews
    6 Perry
    7 Thomas
    8 Jackson
    9 Mack

  12. This has to be one of the toughest. I voted for Walter, then it got tough. I always like the running backs. So Earl got my other vote. That man was a human truck. A fast one.

  13. Earl Campbell will always be one my heroes as a kid. The man… just.. moved.. walls.. People. Concrete. Didn’t matter.

    Thurman Thomas: consummate professional (with helmet attached. 🙂 ). I’ve always liked Thurman’s style of play. Jim Kelly and Andre Reed too. Shoot. As a Bears fan, I loved that whole team.

    There will always be the thought (or should be): anyone getting the “34” these days is probably a “camp body.” Any team. Anywhere. This number is magical.

    Mr. Payton was “the” guy. The guy was funny (google Walter’s SNL visits). The guy was the epitome of a teammate. Poll every true Bears fan: SB XX. The Fridge? McMahon? Nope. Broken-hearted that Walter didn’t get to score..

    .. after all he did for his team. Led the Bears in rushing AND catches. Blocking? Forget about it. This man blew you up.


  14. The best part about this post? Scrolling up to read the comments, then seeing the man representing it up top. Great, great idea on these!

  15. Why in the world would people vote Bo Jackson and worse yet why is he even on the list? Has this changed to the greatest in potential to ever wear the number?

  16. Bo was incredible. Like a meteor, he flashed brightly
    but unfortunately, burned out much too quickly.
    Sweetness did it all at a high level for a long time, and
    was such an amazing person. He was my favorite, may he RIP.

    But I have to give the edge to Earl Campbell.
    He was fearless. His combination of size, strength
    and athleticism were unmatched. As a divisional
    opponent, he earned my respect many times over.
    The battles of Campbell vs the Steel Curtain were
    always bloody and epic affairs. Much respect.

  17. To all the Raiders fans who always insist on what an all time great Bo was: the guy does not crack the top 250 in total rushing yards. HE IS NOT EVEN IN THE TOP 250 RB’S IN YARDS GAINED FOR HIS CAREER. Fran Tarkenton gained more yards rushing than Bo for Pete’s sake. If you are going to be considered one of the all time greats, it’s best if you actually had a career. Anyone who voted for Bo is an idiot.

  18. IMO top 34s revised

    1 Payton
    2 Ricky Williams: It is close with Campbell but Williams was a better receiver, blocker, faster and had better shake.
    3 Campbell
    4 Walker
    5 Thomas
    6 Perry
    7 Jackson
    8 Mack

  19. Of course, Walter Payton is number one. You can throw in Earl Campbell-the ‘Human battering ram’. But some props should be given to Joe Perry. Joe attended Compton Juco then the NFL. He had two years with the 49n’ers where his yards per carry was over 6 as a 200 lb fullback-yikes!

  20. If Bo Jackson didn’t get hurt and didn’t play baseball, he would be better than Payton, but that’s not the case. They spelled Payton wrong on the poll.

  21. Campbell was better than Sweetness. Campbell was better than everybody (except maybe Jim Brown).

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