Green Bay Packers helmets sit on the field during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

20 days to Packers football: How about Allen Rossum?

With 20 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day continues.

Thursday, Sept. 4, is the day when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.  

Over the  course of the next 20 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … and for today we take a look number 20.

Most recently, we took a look at number 21 – Charles Woodson - one of the most popular Packers players of the past decade. Without him, the Packers would never have made it to, nor won Super XLV. If there’s one player on the Packers team over the past decade who has as good of a chance to make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it will be Woodson. He continues to have an incredible career.  

Today we move on to #20, where we once again turn to John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” to provide insight and background and take us back to the years when Allen Rossum returned kicks for the Packers …

Allen Rossum? Really?

Allen Rossum?

Really?

Well, take a look at the list below at the other 24 players who have worn the number. We’ve got the most current - Jumal Rollewho actually had a pretty productive game in the Packers preseason opener at Tennessee last weekend.

But consider some of the others … Atari BigbyAlex GreenMark Roman, and Billy Bookout

Here is how he describes Rossum, the little guy who played from 2000-01:

Pardon the pun, but in his short time in Green Bay, Allen Rossum had a big impact on the team’s fortune. He is part of an exclusive group of Packers who were small is stature, but persevered to make their mark on team history.

Rossum set an NCAA record with nine returns for touchdowns in his years at Notre Dame. Three were punt returns, three were kickoff returns, and three were from interceptions. The Eagles picked him in the third round in 1998 and he made the team as a return specialist.

In his two years in Philadelphia, Allen fumbled 10 times (although only one was recovered on the other team) and developed a reputation for having poor judgment in returning punts. After the Eagles signed veteran return man Brian Mitchell in 2000, Rossum was expendable and the Packers traded a fifth round pick for him.

Rossum fit right in and put his past problems behind him. In his first year in Green Bay he was named as an alternate selection to the Pro Bowl after finishing third in the NFC in kickoff returns with a 25.8 hard average and finishing eighth in the conference in punt returns with an 8.6 yard average. His 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown clinched the win over the Colts and his 90-yard return against the Vikings helped win that game as well.

In 2001, he was hampered by injuries for much of the year, but his 55-yard punt return for a touchdown with three minutes left against the Bucs was the game-winning score. He also contributed as a “gunner” or first man down on special teams coverage units and a defensive back in the dime defensive package on passing downs.

Like so many players of smaller stature, Rossum was a hustler who was able to compensate for a lack of size with a lot of quickness, speed, and effort. When he moved on to Atlanta as a free agent in 2002, it left a large hole in the Packers’ special teams.

Here is the list of Packers players who have worn #20 over the past 50 years:

From To AV
Marques Anderson 2002 2003 11
Byron Bailey 1953 1953 0
Ed Berry 1986 1986 1
Atari Bigby 2006 2010 12
Billy Bookout 1955 1956 0
Kelly Cook 1987 1987 0
Joe Francis 1958 1959 0
Alex Green 2011 2012 5
Jimmy Hargrove 1987 1987 0
James Jackson 2004 2004 0
Michael McGruder 1989 1989 0
Don Miller 1954 1954 0
Johnny Petitbon 1957 1957 0
Jumal Rolle 2013 2013 0
Mark Roman 2005 2005 8
Allen Rossum 2000 2001 2
Dan Sandifer 1952 1952 0
Walter Tullis 1978 1978 0
Maurice Turner 1985 1985 0
Wylie Turner 1979 1980 4
Ron Widby 1972 1973 6
Delvin Williams 1981 1981 0
Kevin Williams 1993 1993 0
Chet Winters 1983 1983 0

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