A few years ago, I found myself in an argument with a friend after a Yankees game. After being forcibly marinated in team history for the better part of three hours (come on Orioles), the only answer I could find to applaud against one of the most storied franchises in American sport history was the ridiculous that it seemed like their best player used # 99.
It was a meandering, halfway point about how the club was so full of itself and retired so many numbers that they will have no choice but to have their future best players with hockey numbers (none of the individual digits are already available, the number being lowest available 11. Numbers 15, 16, 20, 23, 32, 37, 42, 44, 46, 49 and 51 are also not available).
It was also a fruitless point because I didn’t believe it. Aaron Judge looks great in number 99. He’s intimidating. It’s also a nice stylistic clash between carefree, traditional uniforms and the kind of wild numbers you put on a Ricky Vaughn tribute tee. Aside from the craft beer tent behind the right field bleachers, it appears to be one of the few things the Yankees have willingly accepted about the world that took place after their happy days in the late 1990s.
This is a very long way of saying that if the Yankees can accept this, a franchise so in love with itself and its tradition that it could be its own boys’ school in Connecticut, so can the NFL. There are no excuses.
At their next meetings, owners have the opportunity to vote on a modification of the current NFL jersey number restrictions. A proposal from the Kansas City Chiefs asks the league to allow running backs, fullbacks, tight ends and wide receivers to use the numbers 1-49 and 80 to 89, linebackers to use 1-59 and 90 to 99 and defensive to use any number between 1 and 49. This feels like something that will get a small handful of upvotes and a wave of denials from the cigar-stained country club suits running the place claiming some kind of fake traditionalism, which will of course reflect their actual lack of knowledge about the league they have inherited.
A twist through the Hall of Fame charter class shows Sammy Baugh, a skilled defensive back, quarterback and punter who used No. 33. Dutch Clark, a running back who used No. 7. Red Grange used No. 77. Johnny “Blood” McNally used the numbers 57, 24, 20, 14, 35, 26, 55 and 15. And while much of this reflects the myriad positions that early players had to fill over the days From the game’s two-way whirlwind, the fact is that soccer traditions are rooted in some arbitrary numerical choices that don’t always conform to positional guidelines.
The current list of owners who comply with the proposed rules is excellent. The crows’ brilliant overtime proposal, which would finally introduce some sanity and analytical decision making into the process, is on the agenda. Sky Judge, which would allow officers to get help from a person seeing the game more clearly in the cockpit, is also, again, thankfully, setting itself up to be turned down. The Eagles have reaffirmed the American Football Alliance style rule that a team may forego a side kick for a quarter-and-15 attempt at its own 25-yard line.
These are all destined to die on the vine because one of the popular kids will laugh at it as non-traditional and the rest of the crowd, determined to mail it, will do the same in hopes of escaping with a quick and easy vote. .
However, allowing players to use a wider range of numbers cannot be expressed as non-traditionalist. Andy Reid, who had downplayed the quarter-and-15 side kick rule in favor of being an “old guy” who admires the “integrity of the game” coaches the club that proposed allowing defensive backs and running backs to wear jersey numbers. single digit. Maybe that’s the kind of muscle you’ll need to start turning the tide.
Presumably we’ll hear something about T-shirt sales; maybe it’s unfair to a kid who bought a Jalen Ramsey t-shirt (said it would go to n. 2), although that point is also largely illogical. Seven of the 10 most popular jerseys sold in the NFL last year were quarterbacks who would not be affected by the proposal.
Numerical limitations suck up much of the remaining life in the game. It is time to loosen our ties and begin to gradually reduce the heaviness. The end goal, of course, is to look like a college game where very old people have their stomachs hanging out from under their single-digit jerseys. For now, we’ll take something that looks a bit like what the Yankees have in Judge right now; an acknowledgment that things don’t have to look the same forever.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.