Joe Theismann, whose number hasn’t been retired in Washington, may or may not let rookie Dwayne Haskins wear it. (As if Theismann has any place to object.) Clay Matthews, whose number definitely hasn’t been retired in Green Bay, would apparently prefer that rookie Rashan Gary not don No. 52.
“The body’s not even cold yet lol,” Matthews tweeted in response to a photoshopped image of Gary wearing Matthews’ 52.
Actually, the body’s still warm. And the body chose to join another team. Sure, the Packers likely didn’t want Matthews, but that’s how it goes in the NFL and other professional sports. Unless a player’s number is retired (and only so many player numbers on any team can be retired before the team runs out of numbers), his number eventually will be re-issued.
Sometimes, it takes a few decades. Sometimes, it takes a few years. In Matthews’ case, it took a few weeks.
While it’s possible Matthews was joking, it’s more likely that, at some level, he views the quick re-issuance of his number as a lack of respect. Maybe it is, based on the manner in which Matthews assesses what is and isn’t respectful.
The Packers surely mean no disrespect. But plenty examples of disrespect happen unintentionally. And the Packers may have unintentionally given Matthews extra motivation to prove that he’s still the guy he was in Green Bay, now that he’s with the Rams.
While wearing No. 52. The number once worn by the guy whose goal-line tackle delivered the only Super Bowl win in franchise history.