At 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, former Georgia tight end Darnell Washington was quite the sight to see on the field wearing #0.
That won’t be seen in Pittsburgh as Washington landed the #80 entering his first season in Pittsburgh, which led to some disappointment for Steelers fans.
Some had speculated whether Washington would keep #0, the digit he wore in college, now that the NFL is allowing the number to be worn this year. But it doesn’t seem like Pittsburgh is allowing it.
For Washington, it’s no big deal. He told Bryant McFadden and now-teammate Patrick Peterson on the All Things Covered podcast that it’s just a number and that the Steelers have a way of doing things traditionally, which led to #0 being off limits.
“It’s just how the Steelers run things,” Washington said to McFadden and Peterson, according to video via the show’s YouTube page. “That’s just a tradition.”
It certainly is a tradition for the Steelers under the Rooney family, one that isn’t going away anytime soon. Washington also wore #1 in college, but that number is also off limits as it hasn’t been assigned since the days of former Steelers kicker Gary Anderson. So, with #0 off the table and #1, Washington was low on options, leading to #80, drawing comparisons to former Steelers wide receiver and first-round pick Plaxico Burress.
Along with Burress, names like Cedrick Wilson, Johnny Holton and Tyler Vaughns have rocked the 80 in the past, not to mention Hall of Fame defensive back Jack Butler from 1951-59. It’s weird how some numbers are off limits in Steelers history, but others aren’t.
Despite the #0 being off limits, Washington didn’t deny he wanted to rock the single digit in the Black and Gold, saying “100 percent” he wanted to be the first to wear it in Pittsburgh, but tradition is tradition, and #80 suits him just fine.
“Now he’s out there looking like an oversized Plaxico Burress, who had a real good career in the Steeler uniform, that 80,” McFadden added.
If Washington can be an oversized Burress in the passing game, Pittsburgh will be in great shape moving forward offensively as Burress was a serious matchup problem in the early 2000s for the Steelers in the passing game. Washington will undoubtedly have a major impact in the run game, more than Burress did, just due to his blocking.