Although they don’t officially retire jersey numbers, the Atlanta Falcons prevented wide receiver Russell Gage from switching to No. 10 this offseason.
“I wanted something different, something fresh,” Gage told D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I actually tried to get 10, but it’s retired. I understand. I just wanted something fresh, something new.”
The digit was worn by former quarterback Steve Bartkowski, who threw for 23,468 yards and 154 touchdown passes in 11 seasons with Atlanta from 1975-85. He won 55 games, including the first playoff victory in franchise history in 1978, and was inducted into the Falcons’ Ring of Honor in 2004.
Not every number worn by a player in the ring of honor is off limits, though, as current safety Duron Harmon wears Deion Sanders’ No. 21, running back Mike Davis wears Warrick Dunn’s No. 28, linebacker Jeff Holland wears Gerald Riggs’ No. 42, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson wears Roddy White’s No. 84 and tight end Jaeden Graham wears Claude Humphrey’s No. 87.
But others – such as William Andrews’ No. 31, Jeff Van Note’s No. 57, Jessie Tuggle’s No. 58 and Mike Kenn’s No. 78 – have not been worn for several years. The only number that has not been worn by multiple players is Tommy Nobis’ No. 60, meanwhile.
Gage, who played his college ball at LSU and is entering his third season with Atlanta after being selected by the Falcons in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, ended up choosing No. 14 instead.
Perhaps if he continues to improve upon his statistics from last season, which saw him catch 72 passes for 786 yards and four touchdowns, maybe he’ll be able to convince the franchise to let him wear Bartkowski’s numbers. Until then, the digit will remain on the shelf, where it has been since former quarterback Scott Campbell last donned No. 10 in 1990.
Photo courtesy of @GageRussell on Twitter.