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Was Lawrence Taylor the best ever to wear No. 56?


To this day, one of the most prevalent jerseys worn by Giants fans is the old No. 56.

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Of course, that was the number donned by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who is often regarded as the best defensive player in the history of football after 13 game-changing seasons and two Super Bowl victories with Big Blue.

On the NFL landscape, no one wore it better than the man known as L.T.

From 00 to 99, Sports Illustrated recently named the best players of the Super Bowl era by uniform number, and to no surprise, Taylor owned 56.

"Taylor became the first true pass-rushing linebacker when Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick set him loose on the NFL in the early 1980s, and few have done it better since," Doug Farrar wrote in the feature.

"Taylor played with an unbeatable combination of strength, speed and determination, and even when his off-field demons trapped him, he still brought it with authority on the field. Few defenders have ever had better seasons than Taylor's 1986, when he registered 20.5 sacks and won the MVP award."

Meanwhile, three other players who spent parts of their distinguished careers wearing the Giants' colors also made the list, including two Hall of Famers.

Quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who played five of his 18 seasons with the Giants and was inducted into Canton in 1986, claimed No. 10, the number now worn by two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

"Tarkenton was to the '60s and '70s what Steve Young was to the '90s," Farrar wrote. "His dual-threat abilities were unmatched for some time in the NFL, and he got better with age. Tarkenton's MVP win came in 1975, his 15th season."

Fullback Larry Csonka, Class of 1987, made No. 39 famous over eight seasons with the Dolphins and three with the Giants from 1976 to 1978.

"Aside from coach Don Shula, Csonka probably is the face of the Dolphins' 1970s teams for a lot of fans," Farrar added. "The 1987 Hall inductee had his best statistical season (1,117 yards rushing) during Miami's '72 undefeated run to the Super Bowl."

Last but not least was Bob Tucker, the Giants' all-time leader in receiving yards by a tight end. He wore No. 38.
"No. 38 features brief stars like Rookie of the Year honorees George Rogers (1981) and Mike Anderson (2000)," Farrar said. "Tucker, though, was a bit ahead of his time as a pass-catching tight end."

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