The owners officially approved a change yesterday that will allow players at every position to have access to a wider range of numbers for their jerseys, for the first time since I frankly don’t know when giving skill position players as well as defensive backs, for example, the opportunity to wear numbers in the single digits. They had previously been reserved for quarterbacks, kickers, and punters.
With the rule change now in the books, this opens things up for all incoming players, as well as all players changing teams. Those who are already currently on a team also have the ability to change their numbers if one is available—though they may have to pay for it.
The question is who will change their numbers? It does happen. Several years ago, a number of defensive backs on the Steelers changed their numbers after Robert Golden departed, freeing up number 21 for Sean Davis to adopt, which resulted in Mike Hilton changing from 31 to Davis’ 28, among others.
Ever active on social media, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster took to Twitter and Instagram to ask his followers whether or not he should be among the players who opts to adopt a new number, having worn number 19 through his first four seasons. He wore the number 9 at USC, and shared an edited photo of himself in a number 9 Steelers jersey, asking his followers, “should I switch?”
View this post on Instagram
College teams do not have the sort of jersey restrictions as those that have been in place in the NFL for some time. You see players from all sorts of different positions wearing number that to an NFL fan would look odd, and it will take some getting used to seeing those changes coming to this level for some.
But there’s no doubt a number of players who would like the opportunity to wear the numbers that they wore in college or high school, or some other number that means something to them, that they were previously restricted from wearing.
In many cases, players who change jersey numbers will be responsible for footing the bill when it comes to unsold merchandise in the form of jerseys, which is obviously a bigger monetary investment for popular players than fringe players.
Smith-Schuster is a pretty popular player, so he would have to shell out some dough to make the switch. And he’d also have to buy out the number, in this case, from kicker Chris Boswell, who has worn the number 9 since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2015.
Responding to the wide receiver’s Instagram post, he said, “just gimme a blank check and it’s yours”. So clearly, if Smith-Schuster really wants that number bad enough, he’s going to have to do a little something for the Boz before he can go and grab it.
— Steelers Depot 🧐 (@Steelersdepot) April 22, 2021