Patriots briefly re-issued Rob Gronkowski’s number

Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams
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The Patriots previously have retired seven numbers. It looks like 87 won’t be the eighth.

Via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the Patriots briefly re-issued Rob Gronkowski‘s former number for receiver Devin Ross, who participated in mandatory minicamp on a tryout basis.

It’s possible that the Pats have had second thoughts. Ross made the team, but he has now been given No. 8. That same number also has been issued to linebacker Ja’Whuan Bentley. (The recent expansion of the permissible numbers for various positions was supposed to prevent that.)

Still, the fact that No. 87 made an appearance in any context raises questions as to whether the Patriots will eventually set aside the number for good. They surely will do it for quarterback Tom Brady. If they don’t do it for Gronkowski, it likely will be that none of the other players from the greatest two-decade run in NFL history get the same honor.

Of the seven retired numbers (20 for Gino Cappelletti, 40 for Mike Haynes, 57 for Steve Nelson, 73 for John Hannah, 78 for Bruce Armstrong, 79 for Jim Lee Hunt, and 89 for Bob Dee), only one player — Armstrong — overlapped with the first year of the Bill Belichick era, 2000. It’s hard to imagine that key players other than Brady from the past 20 years won’t be similarly honored.

But that’s the way the wind has been blowing. Richard Seymour’s 93, Ty Law’s 24, Tedy Bruschi’s 54, Troy Brown’s 80, Adam Vinatieri’s 4, and Rodney Harrison’s 37 currently are in circulation.

This leads back to the broader question of whether it even makes sense to retire jerseys. There’s a point where teams have to stop retiring jerseys, which will mean that players far more deserving of the honor than those who have gotten it won’t. At that point, it may be time to find another way to remember great players of the past without setting aside the number they wore indefinitely into the future.

15 responses to “Patriots briefly re-issued Rob Gronkowski’s number

  1. I’d be annoyed to see Gronk given that honor, but not a Ty Law or Bruschi or Troy Brown. And his exit won’t serve his cause either.

  2. The Patriots now honor past players with their team hall of fame. No need to retire numbers anymore.

  3. Gronk left the Pats because BB showed his true colors when he refused to put Malcom Butler in the game despite his defense being incapable of stopping anything. BB lost a lot of guys that day.

  4. nhpats2011 says:
    June 27, 2021 at 2:10 pm
    Gronk left the Pats because BB showed his true colors when he refused to put Malcom Butler in the game despite his defense being incapable of stopping anything. BB lost a lot of guys that day.
    __________________________________________________________
    Keep posting it on every thread…..maybe you’ll get SOMEONE to believe that…..then again I doubt that…

  5. The problem wit 87 is that it was also worn by Ben Coates, a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro while a Patriot, and David Givens, the Patriots’ record holder in postseason touchdown receptions until 2015, before being surpassed by Rob Gronkowski. Actually, that’s a pretty good reason to retire 87. Not only because of Gronk, though. Kind of like how 24 was worn by Ty Law, Darelle Revis, and now by Stephon Gilmore.

  6. kissbillsrings says:
    June 27, 2021 at 4:04 pm
    nhpats2011 says:
    June 27, 2021 at 2:10 pm
    Gronk left the Pats because BB showed his true colors when he refused to put Malcom Butler in the game despite his defense being incapable of stopping anything. BB lost a lot of guys that day.
    __________________________________________________________
    Keep posting it on every thread…..maybe you’ll get SOMEONE to believe that…..then again I doubt that…

    The truth hurts. And watching that game, you know it, I knew it….and so did the entire team.

  7. I’ll say it, he doesn’t deserve it. He’s not even the best #87 in Pats history.

  8. mhouser1922 says:
    June 27, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Isn’t it obvious to retire the number of the greatest tight end ever?
    __________

    Mark Bavaro # wasn’t retired by the Giants. Not sure if either team retired Gonzalez. BMore/Cleveland probably retired Newsome.

  9. Why? If you look at his statistics, he’s 3rd in TDs but is in a pack of 20 other TEs in yards, receptions, etc. Vernon Davis has more catches!

    I can see a wall of fame thing there, but it shouldn’t be a national topic of discussion about his number being given to another player!

  10. This is the dumbest debate of all time. There is a reason teams have stopped retiring numbers, and added things like “the ring of honor”. There are only 99 numbers for rosters. Do we really want to see players wearing numbers like “112” because there are no longer enough un-retired numbers to field a 53 man roster plus 8 on the practice squad? Or maybe we can go like college football and have multiple players with the same number? The answer is obvious. Retiring numbers is a great honor and very short sighted. Teams like the Patriots, Cowboys, Steelers, 49ers, etc could retire 45 numbers if they wanted, but it just isnt possible. The ring of honor, the team hall of fame, etc is the real way to honor these players

  11. Brady’s 12 should be retired….That is it. everyone else can go to the Hall at Patriot Place

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