99 to 9: Why NFL stars Jaylon Smith, Jalen Ramsey and others paid 1000’s to modify to single-digit numbers

NFL

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson, Los Angeles Rams nook Jalen Ramsey and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith are among the many many NFL stars who’ve switched this season to numbers which are nontraditional for his or her positions.

The league relaxed its restrictions on positional numbering earlier this 12 months, opening the door for gamers from practically each place group to swap their outdated quantity for a single digit (sorry, linemen).

The brand new numerals symbolize many issues: a contemporary begin after a disappointing season, a technique to pay homage to household or a tribute to pee wee, highschool and school glory days.

Within the circumstances of gamers who joined new groups, the alternate price nothing. However for these remaining with their golf equipment, NFL guidelines required a participant to purchase out stock of his current jersey with a view to make an instantaneous change — a payout that reached six figures for some.

ESPN’s NFL Nation turned intrigued not solely by the adjustments in numbers, however the causes behind them. Here’s what we came upon.

No. in 2020: 32
2021 change: 3

Baker wore No. 32 in school at Washington, began his NFL profession in No. 36 after which switched again to No. 32. However the attract of No. 3 was too nice. “I can have my very own legacy in a way and have my very own quantity,” Baker stated. “I actually preferred 3 rising up.” It wasn’t low cost to purchase out his stock, although. Baker stated it price him “a fairly penny.” — Josh Weinfuss


No. in 2020: 12
2021 change: 1

Callaway wore No. 1 in highschool and in school at Tennessee. Saints security C.J. Gardner-Johnson — a former rival at Florida — additionally stated he wished No. 1 at first, and Callaway stated he “thought we had been going to have a large receiver-DB match” for it. However happily Gardner-Johnson modified his thoughts. — Mike Triplett


No. in 2020: 43
2021 change: 8

Dunlap wore No. 43 after being traded final October as a result of No. 96, which he wore with the Bengals, is retired by the Seahawks. Now, he has switched again to his quantity at Florida. “I felt prefer it was an indication, that it was a possibility in 12 months 12 with the 12s. Twelve years earlier I used to be No. 8, so it simply felt proper to me.” — Brady Henderson


No. in 2020: 23
2021 change: 3

Farley stated No. 3 was his mom’s favourite quantity. “I needed to pray for it. It is my favourite quantity and my mom’s favourite quantity so there’s a whole lot of that means behind it for me,” stated Farley, whose mom, Robin, died of most cancers in 2018. Farley carrying No. 3 as a rookie can be of curiosity as a result of head coach Mike Vrabel makes rookies earn their maintain. He lists them decrease on the depth chart, for instance. Farley wore the quantity at Virginia Tech as effectively. — Turron Davenport


No. in 2020: 28
2021 change: 7

Fournette is from the seventh Ward in New Orleans. “That is the place I am born and raised,” Fournette stated. “That is simply me. That is what I symbolize. I am so large on giving again to the place I am from and it actually represents how particular that place is to me. … It was a particular quantity to me in school, so I am like why not put on it once more?” — Jenna Laine


No. in 2020: 13
2021 change: 1

For Hamler, it was a throwback to his Penn State days. He flashed his game-changing pace as a Broncos rookie in 2020 however spent a lot of final season coping with a persistent hamstring situation. He is hoping the swap to No. 1 is the beginning of a significantly better 12 months 2. — Jeff Legwold


No. in 2020: 54
2021 change: 8

Ingram wished a contemporary begin when he arrived in Pittsburgh, and the No. 8 has a twin that means. “New place, new begin,” he stated. “Nonetheless the identical me, although. First time I ever performed soccer, my quantity was 44 — 4 plus 4 is 8, and Kobe [Bryant] is one in every of my favourite athletes.” — Brooke Pryor


No. in 2020: 39
2021 change: 4

Jackson switched as a result of he wore No. 4 as a standout at Alabama. When requested whether or not the brand new quantity makes him really feel youthful, Jackson, 27, smiled and replied: “Most undoubtedly.” — Jeff Dickerson


No. in 2020: 32
2021 change: 1

Johnson Jr. stated he was searching for a “contemporary begin” with a brand new quantity and wished to be a part of NFL and Houston professional soccer historical past. “[I] wished to be one of many first ones to [wear No. 1] right here apart from Warren Moon,” he stated. — Sarah Barshop


No. in 2020: 12
2021 change: 7

Jones, who wore No. 7 in highschool and school, stated it was his favourite quantity. However when he requested Raiders coach Jon Gruden about switching, Gruden informed him: “No good receivers put on low-digit numbers.” Jones then countered with Raiders legends Fred Biletnikoff (No. 25) and Cliff Department (No. 21). “He was sort of shocked,” Jones stated. Shortly thereafter, No. 7 was his. — Paul Gutierrez


No. in 2020: 99
2021 change: 9

Going again to the quantity he wore at Grand Valley State, Judon selected No. 9 for an additional motive, too. “I’ve 9 siblings. Each time I am going on the market, I symbolize them. That is one of many causes I rock it. Ninety-nine was taken, so I selected to make use of the brand new rule.” — Mike Reiss


No. in 2020: 28
2021 change: 1

McKinnon is in his first season with the Chiefs, however he wore No. 28 for the 49ers in 2020. He’s the one Chiefs participant with a nontraditional quantity for his place group. He wore No. 1 in school at Georgia Southern. — Adam Teicher


Jalen Mills, CB, New England Patriots

No. in 2020: 21
2021 change: 2

Mills is honoring his late uncle with the swap. “That was my uncle’s favourite quantity. He wasn’t an actual large sports activities fan, however any time I did play, he did watch me. I simply wished to symbolize him with that.” — Mike Reiss


No. in 2020: 12
2021 change: 2

Moore’s swap goes again to his little league days, when he received a championship carrying the quantity as a 5-year-old. He additionally thinks it appears to be like good on him, and thus is definitely worth the monetary funding required. — David Newton


No. in 2020: 41
2021 change: 4

Moseley stated the quantity is a household custom. “No. 4 is like my household quantity. In highschool, I wore No. 4. My cousin wore No. 4, brothers wore 4. So when that quantity turned out there, I needed to take it.” — Nick Wagoner


Patrick Peterson, CB, Minnesota Vikings

No. in 2020: 21
2021 change: 7

Peterson wore No. 7 in school and in highschool, and the quantity has sentimental worth. “I at all times wished to rock No. 7. I felt like 7 was my quantity. Like 21 is Deion’s [Sanders] quantity, you realize what I imply? I simply felt like in highschool and in school, I made 7 recognized. You’ll be able to inform. After I went to LSU, guys wished to put on No. 7 … I felt like that is my quantity.” — Courtney Cronin


Jalen Ramsey, CB, Los Angeles Rams

No. in 2020: 20
2021 change: 5

Ramsey wished No. 2, a quantity he stated supplied a reminder that he is second in life. However he yielded it to teammate Robert Woods. “In the event you take a look at 5 within the mirror, [it] comes again as 2,” Ramsey defined. “Then, 5 is like numerous steadiness, like within the Bible there are 5 commandments in direction of God and there are 5 commandments in direction of folks.” — Lindsey Thiry


No. in 2020: 48
2021 change: 9

Simmons wished a contemporary begin after his rocky rookie season. He thought a brand new quantity can be the way in which to go. He stated he did not have an attachment to No. 48, which he chosen after the Cardinals picked him within the first spherical of the 2020 draft. — Josh Weinfuss


Jaylon Smith, LB, Dallas Cowboys

No. in 2020: 54
2021 change: 9

Smith, who wore No. 9 in highschool and at Notre Dame, has an attachment to the quantity, which is why he selected No. 54 — 5 plus 4 equals 9 — initially. He paid six figures to purchase out the remaining stock of No. 54 jerseys and T-shirts despite the fact that 9 would have been free subsequent season. “No. 9 is part of me,” Smith stated. — Todd Archer


No. in 2020: 54
2021 change: 4

Walker, who wore 54 most not too long ago with the Indianapolis Colts, modified his quantity to 4 over the summer season. That was his quantity when, as a quarterback, he led his pee wee staff to a championship. — Jake Trotter


Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

No. in 2020: 17
2021 change: 2

Woods jumped on the alternative to put on No. 2, which is the quantity he wore taking part in youth and highschool soccer within the Los Angeles space, and later at USC. “Having an opportunity to put on it at this NFL stage is tremendous particular right here in L.A., right here within the hometown. It simply brings simply recollections again for lots of people, even myself.” — Lindsey Thiry

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