Jaylon Smith wants to wear No. 9. In fact, he’s felt a certain synonymy with the number ever since his high school days; it’s why he chose to rock the number 54 once he got to the professional ranks in lieu of the NFL’s positional jersey restrictions (linebackers are currently only permitted to don digits between 40 and 59).
5+4=9— Jaylon Smith (@thejaylonsmith) May 3, 2016
But the league is under intense discussions to change that sentiment. Per several sources, NFL officials have contemplated implementing a decree that would lift its current numeric sanctions and allow several segues for players to broaden their tunic ordinals.
The new stipulations would materialize as follows:
- Quarterbacks, Punters, and Kickers: 1–19
- Running backs: 1–49, 80–89
- Defensive backs: 1–49
- Linebackers: 1–59, 90–99
- Offensive lineman: 50–79
- Defensive lineman: 50–79, 90–99
If passed, fans should expect to see several fresh digs as players are granted leeway to experiment with a variety of decimals. And you can expect to see Smith back in his beloved #9 uniform. Smith would join a long list of fellow Cowboys alum to brandish the number.
One name comes chiefly to mind when discussing great 9’s in the franchise’s extensive tradition.
While Tony Romo undoubtedly takes the cake for the superior licentiate to hold the classification, there have been a few other notable contributors to Dallas’ legacy who share the denomination.
Let’s take a quick dive through the team’s memory banks.
Ruzek’s first NFL opportunity came with Dallas, as he spent the first 35 outings of his prolonged 93-game professional career with the ‘Boys.
He signed a free agent’s contract with Dallas in ‘87 after receiving a tryout following a college tenure at Division 1-AA Weber State, where he shattered countless school records for his immaculate accuracy (84.2%).
He briefly suited up for the USFL’s New Jersey Generals, before the precision that guided his college endeavors earned him a shot at football’s highest rank. He never failed to convert an extra point through his first two years in D-Town, making 53-53 attempts, while hitting 33 of his 44 field goal tries.
Ruzek inked a deal with crosstown rival Philly after being released in ‘89, before finishing out his pro time with the 49ers.
Hoopes only spent one full year with America’s Team – and much to his delight – saw a Super Bowl appearance in the process.
Unfortunately, Lynn Swann’s ballet acrobatics rained on Dallas’ hopeful parade to close out the 1975 campaign. For Hoopes though, it’d be the premier group he’d be a part of of during his pro escapades.
Hoopes rifled off 68 punts for 2,676 yards, averaging 39.4 yards per boot before being shipped off to San Diego after the arrival of Danny White.
He would go on to play for the Houston Oilers, St. Louis Cardinals, Lions and Eagles.
Peete’s time with the Cowboys was shorter than both of the aforementioned men –combined.
He spent just seven games under the helm for Dallas’ offense after Troy Aikman suffered a concussion, completing 33 of his 56 pass attempts for 470 yards and four touchdowns, including the highest QBR of his career at 102.5
Peete’s other organizational ties: Detroit, Washington, Oakland, Carolina – and of course, Philadelphia.
We round out the list of #9’s not named Tony Romo with the man who donned the figure most recently before the Eastern Illinois product. Jon Hilbert kicked field goals for the team in 2001, making 11 of his 16 tries, and all 12 of his extra points in eight games.
He was let go after that year though, after the ‘Boys signed undrafted free agent Billy Cundiff at the beginning of training camp in 2002.
And of course, the Cowboys’ overall leader in passing yards (34,183), TDs (248), and fourth-quarter comebacks (28) will forever be linked to #9 after a tremendous era as the team’s primary signal-caller. Romo’s escapades won’t soon be forgotten, and neither will the digit that christened his chest plate as he did so.
If Jaylon Smith does decide to switch his jersey, he’ll have some massive shoes to fill, forever attaching himself to the men who donned the digit before him.
And he may not be the only Cowboy who’ll join some legendary company with a new-look uniform next year.