There are a lot of changes coming to the NFL this year, most notably the 17-game schedule. But one I’m unreasonably stoked about: the jersey number rule change that passed Wednesday in an NFL owners meeting.
The new rules expand the positions that are eligible to wear certain numbers. Single-digit numbers are now available for defensive backs, linebackers, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, wide receivers and H-backs. Previously these numbers were only available for quarterbacks, punters and kickers, who are still required to wear numbers 1 through 20.
Unfortunately the NFL did not make any ruling regarding 0 (or, even better, 00), but it’s at least a step in the right direciton.
Now, I understand that it’s dumb to have such strong feelings over this, but there’s something heartwarming about going back and watching old highlights of #5 Paul Horning taking a sweep to the house, or #00 Jim Otto pancaking dudes along the Raiders line of scrimmage. It just sort of feels like a return to football’s roots in a sense.
It may be a couple years before we really start to see the effects of this rule; it’s too late for players to change their numbers this year without buying out the distributors’ stocks of their current jerseys. Rookies might start using these numbers, but veterans who don’t want to pay those extra costs will need to put in their applications early to change their numbers for the 2022 season.
Multiple players have already teased the possibility of changing their numbers since rumors of these changes first started making the rounds. It’ll be interesting to see if any Packers decide to take advantage, and perhaps go back to their college numbers.
Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.