Every year hundreds of rookies enter the NFL, high draft picks and low, hoping to make their mark on the game. These rookies always say that the number they wear in the pro’s doesn’t matter, but we all know that’s completely false, the downplay only accentuates how much they care.
Case in point is this years number one draft pick Cam Newton, taken by the Panthers, who wore the number two in college. On the Panthers roster that number currently has second year pro Jimmy Clausen’s name above it, made more interesting by the fact that Newton is likely Clausen’s replacement as the starting quarterback.
During Newton’s first interview with the press he was asked if he would wear his college number, he politely said “We’ll see”. You can bet that Newton wants his old number, yet the fact remains Clausen may not want to give it up. Of course the coaches could step in and force the issue, but here’s to betting come opening day, Cam runs out in a shiny new number two jersey.
Saints running back Reggie Bush went through the college-to-pro’s number shenanigans. During his years at USC Bush famously wore the number five, somehow five becoming a representation of his elusive running style. He made it clear once in the pro’s he wanted to stick with the jersey.
However since 1973 the NFL has maintained a numbering systems based off the players positions, which they do not deviate from in the slightest.
Quarterbacks are assigned the numbers 1 through 19, running backs 20 through 49, wide receivers 10 through 19 and 80 through 89, tight ends 40 through 49 and 80 through 89, offensive and defensive line 50 through 79 although DL’s are the only lineman allowed to wear 90 through 99, linebackers 50 through 59 and 90 through 99, defensive backs 20 through 49, kickers and punters 1 through 19.
Bush is obviously a running back, making the number five unavailble to him in the NFL. While he did petition the league to allow him to wear his college number, in the end it was denied, and Bush took over the number 25. Who knows, maybe if Bush would have stayed with five his time so far in the pro’s may have been more productive and injury free.