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Commanders season opener in 67 days: Washington’s best No. 67

Commanders Wire continues a countdown to the Commanders season opener for 2023 in 67 days. Who was Washington’s best player wearing number 67?

Rusty Tillman (1970-77) came to Washington at just the right time for his career. Having played at Northern Arizona and being undrafted, he was signed by Washington on Feb. 6, 1970. It would be his opportunity to play for Vince Lombardi. However, Lombardi was becoming ill and died on Sept. 3.

George Allen came to Washington in 1971, and being the first NFL coach to hire a special teams coach, his emphasis and Tillman’s hunger to make an impact was a perfect match. Tillman, a linebacker, was never going to be an NFL starter. So, he became a special teams beast. In fact, he earned the nickname “King” as he flew down on kickoff coverage, literally a kamikaze into the returning team’s wedge. With no regard for his body, Tillman became a fan favorite, even revered and respected on all coverage and return teams for his huge efforts.

For eight seasons, Tillman put his body through a beating, becoming a fan favorite. But it came to an end when Tillman was released during the 1978 preseason, ending his NFL playing career. Tillman turned to coaching as a special teams coach, of course, and later defensive coordinator for the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Colts. Although he was not a starter, he was still named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins when the franchise celebrated 70 years in the NFL (1932-2002).

Ray Brown (1989-95, 2004-05) had a most unusual career with Washington. Brown was tremendously fit, lasting 19 years in the NFL as an offensive lineman.

Brown came to Washington at the age of 27, having already played for the Cardinals for three seasons. Brown was a reserve “Hog” his first two seasons, and when injured, he missed the greatest Redskins season (1991). Brown then started at left guard the next four seasons (1992-95). Brown then started six seasons for the 49ers and was a Pro Bowler in 2001. He started every game for the Lions in both 2002 & 2003. Returning to Washington, Brown played in all 16 games at right tackle, starting 14 at age 42. 2005 was his final season at age 43, playing in 15 games at guard.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire