Recently a number of football purists realized that they soon may come face-to-face with an idea that they have long loathed, restrictions on jersey numbers potentially being lifted. In the midst of all the rule changes that were proposed by various clubs this offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs’ proposal stood out a bit as they are petitioning to allow for more flexibility when it comes to assigned jersey numbers.
As things currently stand, restrictions only allow wide receivers to wear numbers 10-19 or 80-81 as just one example. If this passes, then wideouts and other positions could even be allowed to wear numbers in the single digits.
A lot of players are forced to choose new numbers when they enter the NFL from college where there are no such restrictions. Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is reportedly someone who would want to return to his collegiate digit as he wore number 8 at Florida State and has worn number 20 since entering the NFL.
Based on a post on social media, a certain Cowboys defender seems to feel similarly to Ramsey. The thing is the number that this player wants is one that many people hold near and dear to their hearts.
It appears Jaylon Smith would like to wear number 9 if the NFL allows linebackers to wear single digits
Linebackers would be among the position groups that would have their number restrictions lifted. What’s more is that linebackers could, like defensive backs and wide receivers, now rock single digits which is why someone like Ramsey could wear number 8.
In case you didn’t know, Jaylon Smith wore number 9 at Notre Dame. He also wore number 9 in high school. Smith shared a post on his Instagram story on Tuesday morning and it seems as if this hypothetical becomes a reality that he would like to return to that number as a professional.
It's possible the NFL soon allows linebackers (and other positions) to have jersey numbers in the single digits.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) April 6, 2021
Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith posted on his Instagram story that he would like to wear number 9 if that is the case.
Jaylon wore 9 at Notre Dame and in high school. pic.twitter.com/g3EyGWI7WL
This subject comes up often so it is worth reiterating: The Dallas Cowboys do not have a single jersey number formally retired. There are obviously a number (no pun intended) of numbers that the Cowboys choose not to hand out (8, 22, 74 as a few examples), but there are also legacy numbers that the club gives to prospects they believe will achieve great heights with them.
Obviously this has been the case with both Dez Bryant and CeeDee Lamb with number 88. Randy Gregory was given number 94 in just the second year that the team was operating without DeMarcus Ware. The thing about number 9 is that it obviously belonged to Tony Romo and his departure is a wound that brings up a lot of feelings for Cowboys fans.
Smith seems to be guilty, at worst, of not knowing how sensitive a certain sect of Cowboys fans are to their former quarterback. This obviously isn’t that big of a deal, but it does feel like one to a lot of people based on Twitter replies.
The number 9 clearly means something to Smith individually as it is the entire reason that he chose to wear number 54. He can’t be knocked for having his own attachment to it.
5+4=9— Jaylon Smith (@thejaylonsmith) May 3, 2016
For what it’s worth, Smith already wears a historic number for the Cowboys as both Chuck Howley and Randy White donned 54 during their time with the team. This is a point of legacy that Smith is actually aware of.
You will recall that Smith warmed up prior to the 2018 Thanksgiving Day game while wearing a Howley jersey. After the game I asked him about it and he definitely had a sense of how important some things are to the Dallas Cowboys organization.
Jaylon: It’s so special because of all the rich history that’s come through this Cowboys generation and team. You have to pay homage, but you also have to live up to these great expectations. You know these numbers that are given, for me number 54 was given to me, so I’ve got a lot of shoes to fill with Chuck Howley and Randy White. I believe I’m making them proud.
The reality is that we are a long way removed from the 2018 season where Smith looked like an incredible risk paying off for the Cowboys on the field. His play has declined which makes things like this number 9 situation a bigger talking point than it really is.
Such is life as a Dallas Cowboy. Jaylon Smith probably knows that better than anybody else.
By the way, CeeDee Lamb added to the intrigue on this subject when he shared a photo of himself wearing number 2 in a Cowboys jersey. He wore that number at Oklahoma and would be allowed to in the NFL if this change ultimately passed.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was given number 88 when the team drafted him in 2020.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) April 6, 2021
With wide receivers potentially being allowed to wear single digit numbers it seems like he isn’t opposed to returning to number 2, which he wore at Oklahoma. pic.twitter.com/C4leb2zcum
Obviously CeeDee was given 88 by the Cowboys last year (after much debate about him originally wanting number 10). Who would have thought one rule proposal could incite so much intrigue!