Falcons affected by the NFL potentially allowing defensive backs, linebackers, running backs to wear single-digit numbers

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One of my favorite things in college football is “big men in small numbers,” which is usually occupied by defensive linemen wearing single digits. There’s no physical advantage of a specific number, but some players have traditions and are peculiar about certain aspects of their uniforms. The intended effect, per the proposal, would be that it “expands jersey number options for certain positions.” The stated reason for the  desired change is “flexibility in assigning jersey numbers.” There really is no reason why the NFL requires certain positions to wear certain numbers; it truly is the “No Fun League.”

Well, that could all be coming to an end this season as there is a proposal the owners will vote on at the upcoming league meeting that would allow single-digit numbers to be worn by more players than just quarterbacks, kickers, and punters — the only players currently allowed to wear them.

The details of this specific proposal are defensive backs, linebackers, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers would all be allowed to wear single-digit numbers. Defensive backs and linebackers could wear any number from 1 to 49, while running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, H-backs, and wide receivers could all wear 1 to 49 and 80 to 89. There are certain stipulations that players have to abide by if they want to change jersey numbers, but we can look at some current Falcons who wore numbers collegiately they couldn’t in the NFL.

First and foremost, Marlon Davidson was the most recent draft pick that was a proud representative of the “big men in small numbers” club when he played at Auburn. With no current #3 on the roster, there is a possibility the former second-round pick could return to his former number.



Calvin Ridley is more solidified in his professional number, and seeing Ridley return to his collegiate #3 would be something that would aggravate many fans who’ve bought an #18 jersey. A Julio Jones‘ number change would be even more heartbreaking than Ridley’s as he wore #8 at Alabama but has worn #11 for 10 seasons.

Another member of the Falcons wore #8 collegiately too, and AJ Terrell would be an interesting proposal for a number change. As no current player wears #8, Terrell wouldn’t have to convince anyone to switch, and after just one year in the league, there aren’t many permanent things in his life. A new number wouldn’t be the end of the world for fans, but I’m sure there would be a handful clamoring he should replace their #24 jerseys of him as a former first-round pick.


Another seamless transition could be Foyesade Oluokun, who wore #23 at Yale, as the number currently doesn’t belong to any player. The only thing better than a defensive lineman in a single-digit jersey is a linebacker in a 10-39 jersey.

There probably won’t be many number changes of players like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, as the two are already established superstars, but the 2021 draft class could be delighted to find out they’re able to transition from college to the pros wearing the same number.



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