The best No.1 for the Cleveland Browns was a big play WR with a famous name
The countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With only 1 day remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to wear number 1: Michael Jackson.
Jackson began his collegiate career as an aspiring quarterback at Southern Mississippi in 1987. However, another aspiring quarterback began his career at Southern Mississippi that same year. His name is Brett Favre. Favre would win the right to be the starting quarterback as a freshman and Jackson would transition to becoming a wide receiver in his sophomore season.
The move to wide receiver proved to be the correct one for Jackson. At 6-foot-2 and just under 200lbs, Jackson had the perfect body type for the receiver he would develop into. Jackson was a smooth strider who excelled down the boundaries.
The Browns took a flyer on the developmental receiver and selected him in the sixth round of the 1991 NFL draft. It didn’t take long for Jackson to show he had the skills to play wide receiver in the NFL. In only his second game, he hauled in a 65-yard touchdown from Bernie Kosar in an absolute drubbing of the New England Patriots. Jackson finished his rookie season with only 17 receptions, 268 yards, and two receiving touchdowns. But the groundwork had been laid for the type of receiver Jackson would become.
In his second season, Jackson led all Browns’ receivers in catches (47), receiving yards (755), and receiving touchdowns (7). The only player to score more points for the Browns in 1992 was the kicker, Matt Stover. Jackson, no longer a developmental prospect, and turned himself into a genuine playmaker at the wide receiver position.
Jackson followed up his sophomore campaign with an equally impressive third season. He recorded 41 receptions and again led the Browns in receiving yards, yards per receptions, and touchdowns. Jackson’s eight receiving touchdowns ranked seventh in the NFL. His 18.4 yards per reception was the fourth highest in the league.
His 1994 season was cut short due to injury, but the talented receiver rebounded in 1995. Jackson scored a team-high nine touchdowns and his 16.2 yards per reception was the tenth-best in the NFL. Unfortunately for everyone that was involved, except Art Modell, 1995 would be the last season of Browns football in Cleveland for three seasons.
Jackson would have the best season of his career the following year in Baltimore, although we will not go over those details as they are too painful to dive into. He retired at the age of 29 due to injuries. Jackson’s 28 receiving touchdowns rank him seventh all-time in Browns’ history and had Modell not relocated the team he would be inside the top-five.
Jackson was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident in 2017 at the age of 48. Although he only wore the jersey number for two seasons, Jackson is the best player to wear number 1 for the Cleveland Browns.