Redskins Jersey Numbers, Old and New

By Todd L. Frank  |   Wednesday, May 12, 2010  |  Comments( 0 )

Washington Redskins
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What’s in a number? Depends who you ask. Some fans (and players) place great weight and importance on them. (Albert Haynesworth places great weight IN his 92. Well, he will if/when he shows up to camp.)

The NFL Shop recently announced that rookie Tim Tebow had the top-selling jersey so far (ironically the same Broncos 15 worn by jettisoned WR Brandon Marshall). Donovan McNabb’s new Washington Redskins 5 is second on that sales list while Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s jersey has dropped out of the top 25 after being ranked 11th as recently as March.

There have been plenty of famous and infamous cases of a new player coming to a team and spending 10’s of thousands of dollars to “buy” his number from a player who might already be wearing it. Bengals WR Chad Johnson even legally changed his last name to Ochocinco as a nod to the 8 and 5 that make up his jersey number 85. Michael Jordan switched to 45 when he returned from his first retirement and eventually switched back to 23. Kobe Bryant went from 8 to 24, while LeBron James plans to switch from 23 to 6 next season.
Of course most of it is simply marketing and jersey sales, but there are certainly some superstitions involved for some players and emotional attachments for many fans.

The only officially retired Washington Redskins jersey is 33 (Sammy Baugh), but the team has an unwritten rule against handing out certain numbers associated with their all-time great players, such as:

7 Joe Theismann, QB, 1974–85
9 Sonny Jurgensen, QB, 1964–74
28 Darrell Green, CB, 1983–2002
42 Charley Taylor, WR, 1964–77
43 Larry Brown, RB, 1969–76
44 John Riggins, RB, 1976–79, 1981–85
49 Bobby Mitchell, RB, 1962–68
51 Monte Coleman, LB, 1979–94
65 Dave Butz, DT, 1975–88
70 Sam Huff, LB, 1964–69 (worn by Leonard Marshall in 1994)
81 Art Monk, WR, 1980–93

It’s probably a safe bet that the late Sean Taylor’s 21 won’t be handed out too soon either.

Several years ago QB Jason Campbell famously called Doug Williams to humbly seek permission to wear 17 (granted) and now with Campbell gone, undrafted free agent QB Daryll Clark from Penn State is wearing 17 (with less fanfare).

First round draft pick Trent Williams, the offensive tackle chosen 4th overall, will be suiting up in 72, while 7th round OL Selvish Capers from West Virginia will wear 60, much to the chagrin of Chris Samuels fans everywhere. While veteran running backs Larry Johnson and Willie Parker will don their familiar 27 and 39, respectively, another veteran in a familiar number (WR Joey Galloway wearing 84) might rattle some die-hard Gary Clark fans.

At some point fans need to realize there’s only 99 jersey numbers available, and the NFL has certain restrictions on what numbers can be assigned to which positions. That said, it seems the Redskins should either officially retire these numbers or not.

And if you’re looking for a cheap Donovan McNabb jersey, grab an old Colt Brennan 5 from the budget bin and have McNABB sewn on the back.
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