The proposal by the Chiefs to allow running backs, receivers, tight ends, linebackers, and defensive backs to wear single-digit numbers was not stylistic but practical.
Per a source with knowledge of the specific terms of the proposal, the Chiefs have made this suggestion in order to ensure that there will be enough jersey numbers available for all players.
The problem arises when, for example, an offensive player on the practice squad has the same number as a defensive player on the active roster. If/when the offensive player is elevated to the active roster, he needs a new numbers.
The rule also will limit the number of duplicated jerseys numbers during the preseason.
The Chiefs recognize the collateral benefit to this proposed change. As the source said, “It’s just fun.”
Initially, it won’t be fun for the teams, because players who would be able to wear single digits will clamor for the unclaimed numbers — and will try to cajole those numbers from kickers and punters. (There’s a chance for some teams that the process of calling dibs already has begun.)
If the goal is to make more numbers available, here’s to letting players also wear 0 and 00. Whether it’s Jim Otto or Ken Burrough, 00 is an awesome number that the No Fun League dumped in the ’70s. (Burrough was allowed to keep wearing it through the balance of his career.)
It’s so awesome that, I had a generic, no-specific-team football jersey from Sears with the number 00 on it. And I loved it.
And then the Catholic grade school I attended had a one-day break from the standard uniform. And then I proudly wore my 00 jersey to school. And then one of the other kids said, “Is that your IQ?” And then I never wore that jersey again.