Jersey number flexibility sweeps far more broadly than single digits

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 13 Pitt at Notre Dame
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Widely discussed as a proposal for making single-digit numbers available to more groups of players, the new measure adopted by the NFL on Wednesday does a lot more than that.

Beyond running backs, fullbacks, receivers, tight ends, linebackers, and defensive backs now being able to change to don single-digit numbers, other noteworthy changes have been made.

First, linebackers can now wear numbers from 10 through 49. Previously, they were limited to 50-59 and 90-99. This means that someone like Pittsburgh pass rusher Rashad Weaver can wear No. 17, if he’s listed as a linebacker. (That’s good for number purposes, not as good for franchise-tag purposes.)

Second, running backs and fullbacks can now wear numbers from 80-89. Veteran running back Ty Montgomery has worn a number in the 80s because he originally was a receiver.

Third, receivers and tight ends can wear numbers from 20-49 in addition to 1-19 and 80-89. (For tight ends, who previously could only wear 80-89, it’s a dramatic change.)

Fourth, the numbers from 10-19 are also available to defensive backs, in addition to 1-9 and (as previously) 20-49.

Finally, the 50s are now available to all offensive and defensive linemen. (Previously, only centers and linebackers could wear those numbers.) Also, centers aren’t limited to 50-59; they can now wear 60-79, too.

As noted yesterday, players who want to change their numbers for 2021 given this new rule must be ready to pay for the unsold inventory of jerseys with their current numbers. That will make it harder for the more popular players to make a change, given that it’s more likely that a stockpile exists of the players who traditionally have sold a lot of jersey.

If, for example, Odell Beckham Jr. wants to change from 13 to his college number of 3, there could be plenty of unsold Beckham jerseys in circulation, given that he was injured for most of 2020 and in light of the nagging sense that perhaps he won’t be with the team over the long haul.

16 responses to “Jersey number flexibility sweeps far more broadly than single digits

  1. Great….now John Harbaugh will never understand which players are eligible receivers

  2. Hidden agenda: Franchise position downgrading to save money. Based on snaps, I know, but still. A reach but, who knows.

    Obvious Agenda: More Jersey sales.

    Retired Jersey issue: None should be retired. If you want to wear 42 in BB, then you better be good or not have rabbit ears. No on can aspire to wear 42 and it therefore defeats one purpose of being a legend.

    PS: Aaron Donald wearing 75 for the Steelers? Sorry, but that would be cool and I’m sure Mr. Greene and Mr. Donald could actually make money off of that.

  3. I find it interesting that neither the NFL nor the Players seem to care about those fans who’ve invested their hard-earned money on jerseys. The NFL will make sure that their partners who make the jerseys are made whole, but tough luck for the fans who’ve purchased player jerseys.

  4. Otto Graham #60
    Red Grange #77
    Sammy Baugh #33
    Jim Otto #00
    Let’s see this again.

  5. Looking forward to all the “Big Fun” that’s going to accompany this. 🙄
    Wake me up when they start allowing three digit jerseys.

  6. I believe TE’s previously could also wear numbers in the 40s if there were no 80s numbers available.

  7. It used to be simple, with each position group wearing a certain group of numbers – it was nice to see number 53 leading the blocking downfield and know he was the center, and if 62 was next to him he was one of the guards. So if that’s no longer good enough, and you want to open it up, why follow the usual NFL modus operandi and make it as complicated as you possibly can? Why not just make it simple and say anybody playing any position can wear whatever number he wants?

  8. Why does anybody care to make a derogatory comment about this ???

    These types of numbers have been used in Colleges and High Schools for decades…. and it hasn’t ruined the game…

    I’m not sure how this screws things up now ???

  9. I like how they only have to pay for the unsold jerseys but not the ones fans have already bought. The NFL and its biz partners ain’t gonna lose money but screw the fans right? Feel like this rule should have only been for rookies or guys changing teams. But since the NFL didn’t consider the fans it would be a nice gesture for a player to consider the fans who support them and have already bought their jerseys before changing their number. I haven’t bought a jersey since 2008 but it feels like no one is considering the fans here.

  10. It’s almost perfect except for one thing: QBs should be allowed to wear #20-29.

    Seeing RBs and QBs with the same kinds of numbers, especially running QBs like Lamar Jackson, is gonna be a nightmare for defenses to read RPO plays.

  11. TE’s have worn numbers in the 40’s in the past. Chris Cooley wore 47 for the Redskins and Todd Christensen wore 46 for the Raiders. No doubt there were others.

  12. The reason Otto Graham was so good : For most of his career he wore #60. Defensive players thought he was a lineman. They kept looking for a guy with numbers in the teens and ignored him all the time.

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