This Is What Sterling Shepard Needs To Do To Be The Best #87 In New York Giants History
By Neal Lynch
New York Giants rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard will wear #87 in his first season with the team. What does he need to do to become the best #87 in Giants history? Surpass these other notable players on this list…
We’ve already done this for first round pick Eli Apple, who has some work cut out for him to top the best Giants player to wear #28. Shepard has less work cut out for him to be the most valuable, but to play more games than the man who currently holds the highest ranking among Giants players wearing #87, it will take a monumental effort.
There are a few players not on this countdown who most Giants fans might remember: Solomon Miller from the Super Bowl championship team in 1986, return specialist Willie Ponder who took a couple kicks to the house, and The U’s Daryl Jones who was part of that offensive powerhouse of 2002’s wild card team.
5. Byron Williams – WR, Texas-Arlington Mavericks
Years: 1983 – 1985
Approximate Value: 8
Williams was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 1983 NFL Draft, but was waived and signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly then waived him and the Giants signed him a month later.
In 37 games over three seasons with the G-Men, Byron tallied 59 receptions for 1,097 yards and three touchdowns with a very impressive 18.6 yards per catch average.
Williams would go on to play for the Orlando Thunder and the New York / New Jersey Knights in the World League where he was All-World League in 1991 with 59 receptions for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns.
4. Jerry Hillebrand – LB, Colorado Buffaloes
Years: 1963 – 1966
Approximate Value: 13
Hillebrand was picked by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round of the 1962 AFL Draft and by the Giants in the first round, 13th overall, of the NFL Draft that same year.
Jerry played in 49 games over four seasons with Big Blue and accrued nine interceptions, taking three for touchdowns. His best season came his rookie year when he had five interceptions. Might’ve had something to do with his number. Super confusing for quarterbacks.
3.Gary Shirk – TE, Morehead State Eagles
Years: 1976 – 1982
Approximate Value: 14
Shirk played for the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League from 1974-1975 before joining the Giants in 1976.
In seven seasons with the G-Men, Shirk started 62 of 101 games played, catching 130 balls for 16,40 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His most valuable seasons came in 1979 and 1981. In ’70, he had 31 receptions for 471 yards and two scores, averaging 15.2 yards per catch. In ’81, he hauled in 42 passes for 445 yards and three touchdowns.
Shirk was released in the 1983 preseason and went to play for the Memphis Showboats in the USFL from 1984-1985.
Shirk was inducted into the Kentucky Football of Fame in 2010 and the Morehead State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
2. Domenik Hixon – WR, Akron Zips
Years: 2007 – 2012
Approximate Value: 16
Hixon was selected by the Denver Broncos in the 4th round of the 2006 NFL Draft, but only played four games for them in 2007 before being released. The Giants scooped him up and he went on to play in 57 games over five seasons for the franchise. In that time, he had 102 receptions for 1,400+ yards and six scores.
Hixon was the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 13 of the 2009 season. Domenik’s 15.1 yards per punt return that season was second highest in the NFL while his 1,291 kickoff return yards was sixth best overall, and his 1,547 total return yards was fourth highest league-wide
1. Howard Cross – TE, Alabama Crimson Tide
Years: 1989 – 2001
Approximate Value: 17
The sixth rounder from Alabama in the 1989 NFL Draft started 171 games out of the 207 games played over 13 seasons in his career, all with Big Blue. Howard’s most valuable season came in 1992 when he had 27 catches for 357 yards and two touchdowns. His best statistical season came in 1994 when he had 31 receptions for 364 yards and four scores.
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Cross scored the most touchdowns in 1993 when he found the end zone five times. Howard also played in 10 playoff games, catching 10 balls for 94 yards and a score. His best postseason was in 1990, when he earned his only Super Bowl ring.