- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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I’m just glancing through the NFL’s official Record & Fact Book for 2012 and I stumbled up on an area that I think is worth discussing: retired numbers.
I realize the four NFC South teams haven’t been around as long as some of the storied franchises. But only one team has more than two numbers retired and two teams have only one.
Atlanta retired the numbers of Steve Bartkowski (No. 10), William Andrews (No. 31), Jeff Van Note (No. 57) and Tommy Nobis (No. 60).
New Orleans retired Jim Taylor’s No. 31 and Doug Atkins’ No. 81.
Carolina’s only retired number is Sam Mills’ No. 51 and Tampa Bay’s lone retired jersey is Lee Roy Selmon’s No. 63.
I think you could make a case that Atlanta should retire Deion Sanders' jersey, even though he wasn’t with the Falcons that long. He changed the game and put the Falcons on the map in Atlanta. I think New Orleans should have retired Mills’ jersey long ago. Mills spent more time and had a bigger impact in New Orleans than he did in Carolina. For that matter, I’d say the Saints should retire the numbers of Rickey Jackson and Willie Roaf. They were, after all, good enough to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Tampa Bay? The Bucs weren’t exactly a dynasty in their early days. Some would make the case that Doug Williams should have his number retired even though his Tampa Bay career was relatively short. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon because Williams left the team’s personnel department on bad terms. He’s been passed over for the team’s Ring of Honor twice. Tampa Bay has some potential candidates on the horizon. I think you can at least make a case for Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Elbert Mack (I’m only kidding on Mack) to have their numbers retired. But when do you do that? I’m thinking you make those calls when you put those guys in the Ring of Honor.