Would Bears unretire No. 3 for Russell Wilson?

Bronco Nagurski Throwing Football
Getty Images

The issue of retired numbers that aren’t really retired resurfaced this week when the Cardinals unretired Marshall Goldberg’s No. 99 for J.J. Watt. Another situation with retired numbers becoming unretired could happen in Chicago, if the Bears manage to trade for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson has worn No. 3 for nine NFL seasons in Seattle. The Bears have retired No. 3, for Bronko Nagurski. So would the Bears find a way to bring back No. 3 for Wilson?

The Bears have retired 14 numbers, and they announced when retiring Mike Ditka’s No. 89 that no further numbers will be retired. As explained by Jack Silverstein of WindyCityGridiron.com in 2018, Bears chairman George McCaskey said this in 2013 about the possibility of unretiring numbers: “We discussed a whole range of options. Unretiring numbers was thrown out there and thrown out because I said if we’re going to unretire numbers, we’re going to have to start with number 7.”

Team founder George Halas wore No. 7. Which gives the Bears the unique combination of family members who can give their blessing to the unretirement of a number and franchise that has the absolute power to issue, retire, and/or unretire numbers. So if the Bears put No. 7 back in circulation, other numbers could be brought back, too.

Wilson may not even want No. 3. At North Carolina State and at Wisconsin, he wore No. 16. Currently, Bears punter Pat O'Donnell has No. 16.

Regardless, don’t start ordering custom Bears No. 3 jerseys with “WILSON” on the back just yet. Beyond the fact that the trade remains a longshot, Wilson could end up in a new number when he puts on a new uniform.

32 responses to “Would Bears unretire No. 3 for Russell Wilson?

  1. Retired numbers were retired for a reason, and should stay retired. Wilson could pick a new number which someday could be retired as his own.

  2. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. A retired NFL number, was unretired recently

  3. I’m hearing that it’s actually going to be part of Russell’s trade requirements. The team he ends up playing for will have to grant him rights to the number 3. If not granted, his no trade clause will be invoked. I guess maybe that’s why the question is being floated so early in the speculation process.

  4. They can’t offer enough to get Wilson anyway so it’s a moot point

  5. Addressing the ‘Unretiring a number’ elephant in the room. Say the Patriots retired Brady’s #12, and Rodgers ended up in NE, would they then unretire #12 if Rodgers wanted to use it?

  6. I think it’s a bit silly for a team to permanently retire numbers. I think that a team could honor a previous great by putting them into the team’s own version of a hall of fame, and possibly temporarily setting aside and not issuing their number, say for somewhere between 5-20 years as a way of honoring them. Especially after 20 years, why not let a new great player wear the number?

  7. No way the Bears can get Wilson and I’m still puzzled why Wilson would want to go there if he wants to win. The Bears have not shown the ability to build a quality OL as he’s complained about getting hit in Seattle. If they do swing the trade, the Bears will further continue to bare the cupboards of draft picks and their defense will suffer. I don’t see how any of this works.

  8. The Seahawks cannot allow Russell Wilson to leave. He is their O. DK Metcalfe is a excellent WR, but Wilson makes it work even from behind that line. There is no player in the NFL who Seattle could sign for the O that comes close to the skill set needed to make the Seahawks O even remotely credible.

    A bunch of 1st round draft-picks would also be pointless as the Seahawks are completely useless with 1st round picks.

  9. If I were a QB heading to the Bears I’d be a lot more concerned about if they were capable of fixing their O Line, keeping Allen Robinson and shoring up an aging defense that crashed to earth last year than I would be about what number I’d be wearing. Just sayin.

  10. Fifty years is a long enough time to retire a number. At some point, you’d run out of numbers. I’m probably one of the older fans, and Bronko Nagurski was way before my time. I’d make an exception for George Halas. What kind of knucklehead would ask for his number, anyway?

  11. Well, since hardly anyone on here has ever heard of Bronko Nagursky, didn’t see him play, and probably don’t understand why his stats aren’t as good as current HOFers, then, why not break that number out of the trophy case and put it to good use.
    How many Super Bowls did Bronko Nagursky win anyway?

  12. Marshall Goldberg is one thing, but Bronko Nagurski?! College and Pro HOF. Retired numbers with both Minnesota Golden Gofers and Chicago Bears. NCAA all american, 4x NFL All pro. NFL all decade team and 75th anniversary team.

    This is getting silly.

  13. I wouldn’t trade for his over rated a$$ let alone unretire a number for him. Mr. Unlimited….smh

  14. Everything has a price. I’m sure #3 can be bought from Mr. Nagurski’s family for a few thousand bucks. Might as well get some money before the Bears give it away for free.

  15. Love that picture of Bronko Nagurski. Nobody throws the ball like that anymore. Tuck the left arm to the chest and don’t lean back on your hips, but twist the hips for more torque.

  16. mackcarrington says:
    March 6, 2021 at 4:13 pm
    Well, since hardly anyone on here has ever heard of Bronko Nagursky, didn’t see him play, and probably don’t understand why his stats aren’t as good as current HOFers, then, why not break that number out of the trophy case and put it to good use.
    How many Super Bowls did Bronko Nagursky win anyway?
    _______________________________________
    Spoken just like a millennial. News Flash, the NFL has been around for 100 years and played at the highest level. Even though the game has evolved into the game we see today doesn’t mean the old time players weren’t any good or worthy of being in the HOF.

  17. An entire article about the number on the uniform of a player who probably won’t come to a certain team anyway.

    Man, it’s going to be a long offseason.

  18. “ Would Bears unretire No. 3 for Russell Wilson?” No. Clearly Mr. Ciara has reached “Numero Uno” status…….

  19. mackcarrington says:
    March 6, 2021 at 4:13 pm
    Well, since hardly anyone on here has ever heard of Bronko Nagursky, didn’t see him play, and probably don’t understand why his stats aren’t as good as current HOFers, then, why not break that number out of the trophy case and put it to good use.
    How many Super Bowls did Bronko Nagursky win anyway?
    _______________________________________
    Spoken just like a millennial. News Flash, the NFL has been around for 100 years and played at the highest level. Even though the game has evolved into the game we see today doesn’t mean the old time players weren’t any good or worthy of being in the HOF.

    ________________________________

    Guess I should be flattered that you think I’m a millenial. And thanks for the “News Flash” that the NFL has been around for 100 years. I don’t think you would believe me if I told you how old I really am and that my post was intended to be taken as satire or sarcasm. But yeah, I’ll take being thought of as millennial.

  20. Wilson knows how to endear himself to a community and a City. He will not request the number, and will in fact make it a point to reach out to the Nagurski family and honor Bronko’s legacy-

  21. It is extremely unlikely that Seattle would trade Wilson, because the cap hit would be a whopping $39 million if they do that. Wilson mouthing off (perhaps hoping that he would be traded) is not a good reason to do that. The cost is just too high. Besides Petey is not so thin-skinned as to virtually eliminate what little slim chance he may have of winning another Lombardi before he retires.

    That said, if Wilson is traded to the Bears, he would probably choose another number. Numbers are no big deal. He is not going to veto the trade if he cannot wear number 3 if he really wants to leave.

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