Brian Bosworth once filed a restraining order against the NFL in an attempt to wear the No. 44 as a rookie with the Seattle Seahawks in 1987. Bosworth eventually lost the fight and had to switch numbers to No. 55 for the remainder of his NFL career.
If Bosworth was playing in the NFL in 2015, he would have been allowed to keep his coveted No. 44.
The NFL Competition Committee passed a rule at the league meetings allowing linebackers to wear jersey numbers in the 40s for the first time. The reason given for the change was the shortage of available numbers for linebackers.
Previously, linebackers were only allowed to wear 50-59 and 90-99. With centers also eligible to wear numbers in the 50s and defensive linemen eligible to wear numbers in the 50s and 90s, the available numbers were running short. Also with the expansion of offseason rosters to 90 players, there just aren’t enough numbers to go around.
Bosworth wasn’t the only linebacker to attempt to wear a number in the 40s in the past. Another Seahawk, Julian Peterson, tried to wear No. 44 with Seattle after joining the team in 2006. He wore the number throughout the preseason before changing to No. 59 for the regular season and the remainder of his tenure in Seattle. However, Peterson didn’t attempt the legal fight Bosworth did.
There have only been a few changes to the numbering protocol since the system was introduced in 1973. The most recent changes were when defensive linemen were allowed to wear 50-59 beginning in 2010 and when receivers were allowed to wear 10-19 beginning in 2004.