What’s In a Number? Say 54
By Brian Miller
For 6 seasons of football I wore the number 55. It’s like a second part of me even after all these years of being absent from the game. I still watch with interest as a player suits up on the Miami Dolphins and dons the double 5’s. It’s a source of pride in some respect. And that was from some 20 years ago. If the number means so much to me now, imagine what it means to a player who has worn it for the better part of their adult life. What exactly is in a number?
Jason Taylor wore number 99 since his rookie year so many years ago but it was Zach Thomas who was on the roster a season before that wearing number 54. A number that until recently belonged solely to him in the minds of fans and media alike. When word came out earlier in the week that a rookie would don the number this weekend, a hailstorm of debate ensued. Should someone else wear the number?
A.J. Edds has done nothing to earn so much a roster spot let alone a jersey but nonetheless he found himself at the center of the controversy. Perhaps it was all the talk surrounding the Jason Taylor handling and Jeff Irelands’ pre-draft questioning that had so many focused on a 5 and a 4.
Today, the Dolphins rolled out on to the field for their first rookie mini-camp and A.J. Edds strolled out of the training facility wearing number 49, according to Armando Salguero, and not 54. It would appear that the Dolphins changed his number to avoid more jabs at the organization.
Either way, some will argue that it was smart and others will argue that it is meaningless. I am actually torn on the subject. As I stated above, 55 was my number and I like the idea of Kao Misi behind the 55 more than J-Peezy but at the same time, it’s still just a number.
If the NFL retired every jersey for every player that fans loved and made huge impacts on for years, we would see triple digit uniforms. So are we to imagine that with the sudden change of heart that Thomas’ 55 and Taylors’ 99 will someday be retired? Should they be?
Are either of these two Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, or Dan Marino? Did either of these two lead our team to a single Super Bowl? Are they locks for the Hall of Fame? Do they hold anything outside of team records? If the answer to those questions are no, does that mean they should be simply immortalized with a jersey retirement because they worked hard and played harder? Because we liked them?
If they are not worthy of having their jerseys forever taken off another mans back does it matter when we see someone else wearing them? Of course not. In fact, it only give us something to talk about.
See, I don’t think either one are worthy of jersey retirements unless down the road they make it into the Hall of Fame and then maybe. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both and miss seeing them on the field but truth be told, this is not the same team and it was a lot easier to watch them both leave than it was to watch Dan Marino leave. Of course seeing them play elsewhere for a year or two makes it a lot easier.
Ten years from now, I won’t be saying “man I wish we still had Jason Taylor or Zach Thomas”. I know because I’m not saying it now. I still however wish I could see Dan Marino throw it one more time.
Jersey numbers are important. But they are more important to the player that wears them and to some degree the fans that supported them. I wore 55 and it means something to me, but it doesn’t mean much to the next guy. 54 means a lot to Zach Thomas but that doesn’t mean it has to be as important to the Dolphins.
Both players will get their Ring of Honor awards after they formally retire. Until then, seeing someone else suited up in their numbers is just an opportunity for someone else to be driven to greatness by working to not smear the good number. It should be a sense of pride to have those numbers and that is why I’m not sure it really matters at all…unless your the idiot who is wearing 55 at my old HS and still can’t tackle.
Here are the rest of the assigned numbers to the rookie class:
AJ Edds – 49
Jason Odrick – 98
John Jerry – 74
Nolan Carroll – 28
Chris McCoy – 48
AJ Spitler – 44
Reshad Jones – 35
Others of note:
Tim Dobbins – 51 (hope he can live up to Bryan Cox’s 51)
Brandon Marshall – still waiting for an official assignment