99: Exploring the most transcendent number in sports

99 is the last number you can wear on a jersey in most professional sports. The last number before triple digits for some reason has attracted some of the biggest names in sports of all time. Either the number itself has drawn these athletes to don the jersey or the athletes that have worn this jersey have simply and coincidentally been larger than life.

Why the hell is it always 99?

It doesn’t matter. #99 rings a bell with all of us for some of the greatest to ever play the sport. What’s odd about it is there is one in every major sport across the globe.

These aren’t just great athletes, but bombastic and popular personalities that have transcended the sport and leaked into culture. These are the types of players who have graced the lips of fanatics and sportscasters alike for decades. And will for decades to come.

There are lots of examples of outspoken and outstanding athletes in every sport to wear 99, especially in football. Right now we have a perfect example in the self-adoring and selfie-obsessed J.J. Watt in the NFL. In the NBA currently we have Jae Crowder, who has never hidden his true feelings, especially when Boston fans cheered for Gordon Hayward.

The list, if you cared to do a quick Google search, is long of all the players across sports who have sported 99, all of them, including Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, had big names and big personalities. Here’s a list of the top names in each of the biggest global sports that will never be forgotten.

Cricket – Ravichandran Ashwin

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

The Indian Cricketer won the ICC Cricketer of the Year award just last year. He has gained notoriety for being the fastest Indian bowler to reach the 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 wicket mark. He has racked up numerous awards since his international career began in 2010. He also helps bring awareness to voters to check for their names in the electoral roll for the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission.

Hockey – Wayne Gretzky

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

For starters, his nick name is “The Great One”. Beyond that, there really isn’t much else to say. He has the most goals of all time in NHL history with 894. He also has the most points all time with 2,857 damn near double the number two spot. That’s just it. Everyone under Wayne has always been “number two”. He’s the undisputed GOAT. And his daughter is incredibly attractive.


Basketball – George Mikan

Mr. Basketball was 6’10” and 205 lbs at a time when most professional basketball players were considered to have an advantage to be small. The late 1940s and early 50s had a giant in Mikan, who eventually swatted so many shots out of the hoop they had to make goaltending illegal. He was the cornerstone to the NBA’s first dynasty in the Minneapolis Lakers and helped bring home 4 championships in 5 years. Mikan is widely considered one of the 50 best to ever play the game and one of the few players in history to have the games rules changed to help impede his supreme dominance.


Baseball – Manny Ramirez

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

Over 500 home runs, 21 career grand slams, and 29 post-season home runs make Manny one of the best to ever play the game. After being implemented through the MLB’s drug policy for using illegal PEDs, Manny decided to retire. He was then reinstated for the rest of the season, only to eventually work his way out of the league to play in Japan at age 45. Manny is just as famous for his “Manny Moments” where he let his personality shine. Fans loved the way he took the game and life casual, while the sticklers of the MLB usually frowned and shook their heads.


Soccer – Ronaldo

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

He wore the number 99 for only 2 seasons with AC Milan. He had previously worn number 9 and there are all sorts of rumors as to why he was only able to wear 99 for AC Milan, including the Brazilians love of 99 flake ice cream. Regardless, in his first start Ronaldo had 2 goals and 1 assist. AC Milan went on to play for the championship that very same year, but Ronaldo was cup-tied and could not play. It is the only trophy missing from the striker’s resume. Ronaldo was embroiled in some personal strife during those same years, with a prostitution scandal and later a very public paternity test. He continues to this day to promote the game of Soccer and part owner of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the North American Soccer League.


Football – Warren Sapp

Where does one start with the illustrious football career and at times, dubious personal life of Warren Sapp? His Hall of Fame play on the field was nothing short of outstanding. Not only was Warren one of the most powerful  defensive tackles to ever play, he was also one of the fastest, running the 40 yard dash in 4.6 seconds. The seven time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion was both lauded and hated by fans all over the NFL world.

Warren got in trouble on and off the field as often as he rang up sacks. From assault and battery charges, to soliciting a prostitute, to simply skipping though the other team’s warm ups before a game, he always seemed to tread heavy hassle. His finances became as messy as is court records and Warren went bankrupt. He also “lost” his Super Bowl and Miami Hurricanes championship rings along the way.

In recent news, he has stated that he will donate his brain to science after his death due to memory loss from his football career.

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