NFL Passes New Jersey Numbers Rule and All is Right With the World

Don't act like you're not excited.

There are a lot of changes coming to the NFL this year, most notably the 17-game schedule. But one I'm unreasonably stoked about: the jersey number rule change that passed Wednesday in an NFL owners meeting.

The new rules expand the positions that are eligible to wear certain numbers. Single-digit numbers are now available for defensive backs, linebackers, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, wide receivers and H-backs. Previously these numbers were only available for quarterbacks, punters and kickers, who are still required to wear numbers 1 through 20.

Unfortunately the NFL did not make any ruling regarding 0 (or, even better, 00), but it's at least a step in the right direciton.

Now, I understand that it's dumb to have such strong feelings over this, but there's something heartwarming about going back and watching old highlights of #5 Paul Horning taking a sweep to the house, or #00 Jim Otto pancaking dudes along the Raiders line of scrimmage. It just sort of feels like a return to football's roots in a sense.

It may be a couple years before we really start to see the effects of this rule; it's too late for players to change their numbers this year without buying out the distributors' stocks of their current jerseys. Rookies might start using these numbers, but veterans who don't want to pay those extra costs will need to put in their applications early to change their numbers for the 2022 season.

Multiple players have already teased the possibility of changing their numbers since rumors of these changes first started making the rounds. It'll be interesting to see if any Packers decide to take advantage, and perhaps go back to their college numbers.

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (19)

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TarynsEyes's picture

April 22, 2021 at 07:20 am

So everyone except the DL/OL can wear single digits, and you believe it's exciting. With that, when do we start seeing 1A,1B. 2A, 2B, etc, because of the shortage of numbers to appease the number of players who want to be seen as a top 10, if only by the number on their jersey. Will this actually make the top 10 the top 9 because 10 is a double-digit? If anything, only those players that are top 10 or 9 in the league should be allowed to be so distinguished. It's called merit-based.

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Stroh's picture

April 22, 2021 at 06:47 pm

"when do we start seeing 1A,1B. 2A, 2B, etc, because of the shortage of numbers to appease the number of players..."
Duh... when they expand the rosters and PS to more than 100!!! SMFH...

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marpag1's picture

April 22, 2021 at 07:24 am

As for me, I yawned so hard I think I pulled a muscle in my neck. But OK, knock yourself out with this...

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gkarl's picture

April 22, 2021 at 09:15 am

LOL, you know its a slow news day when jersey numbers are the most exciting thing they can find to write about.

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albert999's picture

April 22, 2021 at 08:19 am

60% of drafted OL sign a second contract 27% WR
That being said rd1 OL round 2 CB,WR in that order

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Since'61's picture

April 22, 2021 at 08:53 am

Somehow the league sees adding to the number of games and playing numbers games with Jerseys as improving their product. This just means that the league has found a way to increase revenue by selling more Jerseys.

I guess improving equipment and player safety won't do anything for their TV ratings or their revenue streams.
Another ridiculous, unnecessary, change by the league. Maybe different positions will get to wear different colored cleats next. Woopee!

Thanks, Since '61

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Coldworld's picture

April 22, 2021 at 08:58 am

You are so right that this is just a money thing. It’s a move completely devoid of a valid football related need, justification or interest except that it probably means more merchandise will be out of date sooner.

Perhaps they will spend the NFL’s cut on improving officiating consistency and quality ...

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Hematite's picture

April 22, 2021 at 11:24 am

Improving the quality of officiating would go a long way to making the NFL more palatable.

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Since'61's picture

April 22, 2021 at 11:55 am

Yes!!! Excellent point Hermatite, however it doesn't add to revenue stream. Thanks, Since '61

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CheesyTex's picture

April 22, 2021 at 01:04 pm

And here I thought "New Jersey" numbers was a tribute to Jersey Al...

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Stroh's picture

April 22, 2021 at 06:51 pm

How is it a money thing? I don't think fans are going to start running out and buying more jerseys! I don't think Fans that have a players jersey aren't going to go buy another jersey for the same player just w/ a new number.

THINK for a change!!

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LeotisHarris's picture

April 22, 2021 at 08:14 pm

It's a money thing because it's exactly what fans do in all sports; hence the alternate jerseys, helmets, hats, color rush etc. Take a few minutes to browse the NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL Shops. You'll find Packers helmets in everything from camouflage to black. Now imagine the revenue generated by jersey sales when your favorite Canton-bound player changes his jersey number. You'll want them all! It's the American way!

Think Michael Jordan. That little 23 to 45 to 23 thing generated a couple bucks.

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 22, 2021 at 09:52 am

All through the 60's, 70's & 80's there were few, if any changes (well obviously the NFL/AFL merger being the main exception). And the product kept growing in popularity.

Lately, particularly under Goodell, it's like they can't stop tinkering with the product. Every year it's something different. That, and over saturation. Everyone who loves Thursday night football, raise your hand. I don't think it's a coincidence that the NFL's popularity has begun to wane.

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Coldworld's picture

April 22, 2021 at 10:38 am

Goodall is unashamedly venal, and the owners love it. I don’t see him as a football man but a bean counter with little spine. Love the game, but I loved it more in the form played before the millennium. They really need to invest in ensuring quality and integrity of the sport, not just in money grabs and vacuous PR.

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splitpea1's picture

April 22, 2021 at 11:09 am

The NFL product is still better (although the margin is shrinking) than MLB product (talk about tinkering with a product until it's screwed up beyond belief!) and the NBA (no defense whatsoever). From my perspective, NCAA hoops offers the best product, particularly come tournament time.

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marpag1's picture

April 22, 2021 at 11:31 am

Agree. March Madness is great. As for the NBA, if it weren't for Giannis, I would have no interest whatsoever. Zero. In fact, I kind of have an active dislike for the NBA. And in my mind, the death of NBA happened long before any of the BLM shenanigans, so let's not go there. By trying to make basketball better, the NBA destroyed the game. College hoops is just a better game.

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Since'61's picture

April 22, 2021 at 04:00 pm

13Times, there is no comparing Pete Rozell with Goodell. He took the league into the modern era with the TV deals, expansion and the NFL/AFL merger. He realized that football was the perfect game for a TV audience as opposed to Baseball which is a great game for the radio.

Rozelle's changes built the game as we have known it. Now Goodall is chipping away at all the good that Rozelle did. TNF is an injury factory but a money grab for the league. International games just add additional travel burdens on the players and causes teams to lose home game which is unfair.

The league is going the wrong way but it's Ok as long as the money is rolling in but the gravy train will run out one day as parents push their sons into other safer sports and the quality of play continues to decline. It's easy to believe that the NFL will always be here but back in the 50s and 60s no one would have believed that Sears, Woolworths, Lord & Taylor, Radio Shack and many other brand names would be gone and forgotten, victims of over expansion. Thanks, Since '61

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PeteK's picture

April 22, 2021 at 09:03 am

I want Rogers to wear 99 because he's the best and Dillon 00 so that he mimics two boulders crushing defenders. hahahaha

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johnlead's picture

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