The Backstory: With No. 94 comes comes a true test of what legends are made of. To most, legends are defined by both the sheer the quantity of their greatness, yet the quality of a particular shining moment has been known to earn a player that label as well.
But would it be a stretch to call someone a legend when their one shining moment ultimately resulted in an heartbreaking outcome in spite of their game-changing efforts? A complex question, I know. But we in the biz call that a Brent Burnstein.
The Legend: No. 94 DE Brent Burnstein (1992-1996)
In 1997, Burnstein almost single-handedly turned the tides of one the greatest Rose Bowls ever with a momentum-stealing field goal block. Making this moment all the sweeter is the fact that Bernstein beat arguably the greatest offensive lineman ever, Orlando Pace, to make the incredibly timely play.
With Ohio State threatening to extend its lead to seven with just under six minutes to play, Burnstein used his 6'8" frame as leverage to force his way through Pace and slap away Josh Jackson's 38-yard attempt. Fellow ASU defensive end Derrick Rodgers then took advantage of the frenzy on the field by scooping up what appeared to be a lateral and running it back for 50-yard touchdown.
Unfortunately, the lateral was eventually ruled an illegal forward pass but the Devils still had the ball on their own 42 yard line. And they made the most of that position when Jake Plummer showed why he was known as the snake with an 11-yard TD scramble that gave ASU a 17-14 lead with only 1:40 remaining.
Sadly, the rest is painful history. After the kickoff, QB Joe Germaine, a Mesa-native, promptly led the Buckeyes on a 65-yard, game-winning drive that concluded with a five-yard touchdown toss to WR David Boston with only 19 seconds remaining. And thus, the Devils were handed their first loss of the season, forcing them to settle for No. 4 in the AP rankings instead of a potential share of a national championship.
For that reason, Burnstein's "one shining moment" is often overlooked in the history of ASU football. But while that may have been the pinnacle of Burnstein's career, his entire season that proceeded that painful game was mighty memorable as well. In fact, Burnstein's block in the Rose Bowl was actually his fourth that season, which just happens to be an ASU record. Burnstein was also recognized as an honorable mention on the All-Pac-10 team that season even with standouts like Derrick Rodgers and Shawn Swayda stealing his thunder.
In the Pros: Not surprisingly, Burnstein wasn't drafted but he was picked up as a rookie free agent by the Houston Oilers. Before his career could get off the ground though, Burnstein walked away from the Oilers out of a refusal to let the veterans cut his shoulder length hair as part of their hazing process. No, I'm not making this up. Here's what Oilers head coach told the AP in 1997 about the infamous incident:
"I've been in many camps over the years, and I've had players leave for a lot of different reasons. But I never had a player leave because he didn't want to get his hair cut...I feel confident they weren't going to mess with him. I think it just came to the point where he was a little nervous about it, and obviously his hair was more important to him than his football career."
Somehow, Burnstein managed to get a second chance when the hometown Cardinals swiped him off the waivers. But before he could even get used to the prospect of once again playing in Sun Devil Stadium, the Cardinals waived him.
Although his professional career was nothing more than confirmation why his teammates nicknamed him "Fabio," his blocks will always be as legendary as his locks. For evidence, look no further than below:
(And many props to Jedi ASU for another great video).
The Honorable Mentions
DL Saute Sapolu (1984-1988): Sapolu matched Burnstein's tenure length at ASU and went on to play in the World League of American Football. Yeah, that was a thing.
And...that was about it. No. 94 is a depressingly barren number for Arizona State.
Who Wears 94 Now?
Redshirt junior kicker Parker Flynn. He hasn't done diddly squat for the Devils but you can follow him on Twitter right hurr.
Other Famous 94s
NFL OLB/DE Charles Haley (1991-1999): Haley accumulated over 100 sacks in his NFL career but he's best known for being the only player in NFL history to have been on five Super Bowl-winning teams (two with the 49ers, three with the Cowboys).
NFL DT Dana Stubblefield (1993-2003): Stubblefield earned both the Defensive Rookie of the Year (1993) and the Defensive Player of the Year awards (1997) while on the 49ers. Unfortunately, his name is also synonymous with the BALCO scandal.
NFL OLB/DE DeMarcus Ware (2005-present): Although he has five less rings, Ware is still one of the scariest players in NFL history and already has 111 sacks and 32 forced fumbles in his career. When he finally hangs his cleats up, he should be regarded as the best No. 94 ever.