Next month, NFL owners are expected to vote on a proposal that would allow running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs to wear new numbers, including single digits.
The amendment to Rule 5, Section 1, Article 2 of the NFL rulebook was proposed by the Kansas City Chiefs after they ran out of usable numbers last season. But how, you ask?
Let’s start with a typical 53-man roster and add the Chiefs’ 10 retired numbers, as well as one that is unofficially retired. The NFL also expanded practice squads to 16 players due to the coronavirus pandemic, which presumably brings you to 80 different numbers to account for.
The current numbering system only allows for running backs and defensive backs to wear 20-49; wide receivers to wear 10-19 and 80-89; tight ends 40-49 and 80-89; and linebackers 40-59 and 90-99.
If Kansas City didn’t have a certain number of players – or had too many players, for that matter – at a specific position, it’s entirely possible to run out of numbers. In fact, the Chiefs actually had three players – running back Elijah McGuire (above) and defensive backs Alex Brown (below) and Deandre Baker – wearing No. 30 last season.
If the amendment passes, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends will be able to wear 1-49 or 80-89, defensive backs will be able to wear 1-49 and linebackers will be able to wear 1-59 or 90-99.
Most teams should be in favor of the change, especially the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, who are tied for the league lead with 14 retired numbers. The San Francisco 49ers are also in double digits with 12, and all three likely faced a similar problem last season.
Photo courtesy of @Chiefs on Twitter and @shutdownbrown30 on Instagram.