Thursday, 20 Jun 2024

The Legendary Number 46: A Closer Look at Iconic Athletes

famous number 46 in sports

If there were a ranking for jersey numbers, 46 may not be the first to come to mind. Major sports leagues like Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League have retired numerous numbers, but number 46 has not received the same recognition. However, in the National Football League, the Cleveland Browns have immortalized the number by retiring jersey number 46, worn by the great Don Fleming. Join us as we explore the significance of this number and its association with other prominent athletes.

Don Fleming: A Cleveland Browns Legend

Don Fleming, a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, proudly wore jersey number 46 during his career. His outstanding performances and contributions to the team earned him the honor of having his number retired. Although the Cleveland Browns are not currently active, Fleming’s legacy lives on as the only NFL player to have the number 46 retired.

Mattingly, Jordan, and the Number 46

Don Mattingly, the celebrated New York Yankees first baseman, briefly wore jersey number 46 during the 1982-83 season. However, Mattingly’s iconic number turned out to be 23, which he switched to and the Yankees subsequently retired. The myth that Michael Jordan chose number 23 as an homage to his brother’s number, 46, has been debunked. Jordan’s brother, Larry, actually wore number 45, and Michael himself briefly wore 45 during his foray into professional baseball. The story of “picking half of 46” remains just that, a story.

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The Legendary Lou “The Toe” Groza

Lou Groza, affectionately known as “The Toe,” is perhaps the most well-known athlete associated with the number 46. A former Cleveland Brown, Groza was a star offensive tackle and place-kicker. Although Groza primarily wore number 76 throughout his career, he did wear number 46 for a short period. Today, the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the top college football place-kicker, serves as a testament to Groza’s incredible skills and contributions to the game.

Other Notable Athletes and Their Affiliation with Number 46

Several other athletes have worn number 46 during their careers. In baseball, we have the likes of Rob Murphy, Andy Pettite, Brooks Lawrence, Jason Bere, and Steve Trachsel. In football, notable players include Tim McDonald, Pete Johnson, and Todd Christensen. Each of these athletes has left their mark on their respective sports, but their number 46 jerseys remain unretired, allowing future players to inherit the legacy.


Q: Which NFL team has retired the number 46?
A: The Cleveland Browns have retired the number 46, which was worn by Don Fleming.

Q: Did Michael Jordan choose number 23 because his brother wore number 46?
A: No, Michael Jordan’s brother actually wore number 45, and the story of choosing half of 46 is a myth.

Q: Who is the most famous athlete associated with the number 46?
A: Lou “The Toe” Groza, a former Cleveland Browns player, is highly regarded in the world of football.


Number 46 may not be the most celebrated jersey number, but it holds a special place in the hearts of Cleveland Browns fans. Don Fleming’s contributions to the team have led to the retirement of his number, ensuring that his legacy endures. While other notable athletes have donned the number 46, it remains unretired, ready to be embraced by future talents. Explore the fascinating world of football legends and their jersey numbers on Pesstatsdatabase.

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