Steelers’ New OLB Melvin Ingram Chose No. 8 In Part To Honor Late Kobe Bryant

New Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram wore No. 54 the last nine seasons as a member of the Chargers organization, and with that number already claimed by inside linebacker Ulysses Gilbert III, the South Carolina product and former first-round draft pick had to choose a different one. He couldn’t choose No. 6, his college number, however, because that belongs to rookie punter Pressley Harvin III.

“I already knew it [No. 6] was gone as the punter had it, but I would’ve loved to have it,” Ingram said on Saturday. “But I’m eight. I’m eight. So that’s what it is.”

So, why did Ingram decide to go with No. 8? He said there were a lot of reasons.

“This is a new place for me,” Ingram said. “New place, new start. Still the same me though. First time I ever played football, my number was 44 — four plus four is eight, and Kobe [Bryant] is one of my favorite athletes. Kobe year.”

Kobe Bryant, the NBA legend, and longtime member of the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. He wore No. 8 for most of his NBA career, but did switch to No. 24 for a while.

Will Ingram keep No. 8? It probably depends on what happens this summer with Gilbert and Harvin. If both make the Steelers’ 53-man roster, they would both likely keep their respective numbers unless willing to sell them. We’ll see.

Should Ingram wind up keeping No. 8, it will mark the first time a Steelers player has worn that number since the 2015 season, when kicker Josh Scobee donned it for the first four games of the regular season. Scobee was gone by Week 5 because his collective performance in those first four games was awful.

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