Falcons receiver Russell Gage wanted Steve Bartkowski’s old number, couldn’t get it

USA TODAY Sports

Some numbers that are retired aren’t really retired. Some numbers that aren’t retired actually are.

Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons receiver Russell Gage wanted to change his number. The Falcons declined to give Gage his first choice, even though the Falcons don’t officially retire jersey numbers.

“I wanted something different, something fresh,” Gage said Thursday, per Ledbetter. “I actually tried to get 10, but it’s retired I understand. I just wanted something fresh, something new.”

Quarterback Steve Bartkowski, a member of the team’s Ring of Honor, wore number 10.

Some of the other players in the Ring of Honor have had their numbers re-issued. Cordarrelle Patterson wears Roddy White’s No. 84. Jaeden Graham wears Claude Humphrey’s No. 87. Duron Harrison wears Deion Sanders’ No. 21. Jeff Holland wears Gerald Riggs’ No. 42. Mike Davis wears Warrick Dunn’s No. 28.

Gage opted for No. 14 instead.

15 responses to “Falcons receiver Russell Gage wanted Steve Bartkowski’s old number, couldn’t get it

  1. Very strange approach by the team here. “We don’t retire numbers, but YOU can’t have THAT one.” I can’t imagine that sitting well with the players. Just bad for morale in general.

  2. When teams retire a Jersey number it should be final, binding and respected. It also should be rare and used only to full respect and in acknowledgment of a unique, great player.

  3. Too bad we never hear about players that are forced to wear the jersey number of less cherished players. The guy that doesn’t want to wear Jeff George’s or Albert Haynesworth’s old number.

  4. What an elite list of names there. Anyone else completely forget Warrick Dunn ever played for the falcons?

  5. I would have thought the Falcons would have respected HOFers like Humphrey & Sanders at least.
    Very inconsistent way they handle numbers.

  6. That is quite the list indeed. I totally spaced his time with the falcons which is crazy. He was there for 5 seasons, nominated to a ProBowl with the falcons and is apparently in their ring of Honor.
    Definitely seems like an interesting approach the falcons are taking while re-issuing numbers.

  7. I would imagine that Russell Gage had to be informed of who Steve Bartkowski is. And while Jim Ringo in the 60’s with GB was the first player who tried to negotiate with an agent [Vince Lombardi wasn’t having it and quickly traded Ringo to Philadelphia], Bartkowski, along with Leigh Steinberg, is really the first NFL player to successfully negotiate a contract with an agent by his side. Players, and agents, should probably lift a glass to Bartkowski and Steinberg every time a successful deal is reached.

  8. The Lombardi story is fiction …
    Ringo was traded for draft capital plus he was a 12 yr veteran. Bartkowski wasnt good enough to have his jersey retired.

  9. bkinacti0n says:
    June 12, 2021 at 2:32 pm
    Very strange approach by the team here. “We don’t retire numbers, but YOU can’t have THAT one.” I can’t imagine that sitting well with the players. Just bad for morale in general.
    ————————————————————————————————
    I’m sure you think not getting to pick a permanent parking space at work is bad for moral as well.

  10. The new number rules will actually let teams retire more numbers. That said, should be for great players who basically played entire career fir team. For ATL, I’d go Bartkowski, VanNote, Nobis,Andrews over Riggs.

  11. Why would the Falcons retire Deion’s number? He only played there for five seasons. One 1st team All-Pro, one 2nd team All-Pro, and One Pro Bowl.

    At that rate, why not retire Favre’s #4 in Atlanta too? 🥴

  12. @ tiredofcowards says:
    June 12, 2021 at 3:01 pm
    Too bad we never hear about players that are forced to wear the jersey number of less cherished players. The guy that doesn’t want to wear Jeff George’s or Albert Haynesworth’s old number.
    ———————–

    Or Aundray Bruce or Darrion Conner’s, either.

  13. Why is Steve Bartkowski’s number quasi-retired? He played for a while, but he was never that great. He was nowhere near as good as Matt Ryan. Are they going to keep dudes from using his number 40 years from now too? That just seems absurd.

  14. Numbers should never be retired. Or allow each team to only have 5 retired at a time. If you want to retire a number gotta kick someone off the retired list.

  15. andymc58 says:
    June 12, 2021 at 3:29 pm
    What an elite list of names there. Anyone else completely forget Warrick Dunn ever played for the falcons?
    ________________

    Warrick Dunn was a fantastic player. He was selected twelfth overall in the draft and was the offensive rookie of the year.

    Dunn also was, and still is, a great humanitarian. Dunn’s Homes for the Holidays (HFTH) program rewards single-parent families for reaching first-time homeownership. HFTH has assisted over 150 single parents and over 300 dependents in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Tampa and Tallahassee.

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