Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith is contemplating a jersey number change, but the challenge is many fans associate No. 9 with legendary quarterback Tony Romo. Smith is among the Cowboys players who hinted about a change on social media as the NFL contemplates relaxing the rules to allow more position groups to wear single-digit numbers.
“Know what type of time I’m on [if] they let this rule pass #Nina,” Smith said in a recent Instagram Story post.
Smith’s comments also came with a photoshopped graphic of the linebacker in a white No. 9 Cowboys jersey. As ESPN shows, the Cowboys technically do not retire jerseys.
The team is careful with how they handle legacy jersey numbers as recently displayed by giving the No. 88 to CeeDee Lamb which was previously worn by several Cowboys legends including Michael Irvin, Drew Pearson and Dez Bryant. Smith may get a little pushback from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones given his affinity for the team’s former quarterback.
It's possible the NFL soon allows linebackers (and other positions) to have jersey numbers in the single digits.
Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith posted on his Instagram story that he would like to wear number 9 if that is the case.
Jaylon wore 9 at Notre Dame and in high school. pic.twitter.com/g3EyGWI7WL
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) April 6, 2021
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The NFL Is Considering Loosening the Current Jersey Number Restrictions
The reason Smith and others are voicing their desire to snag a single-digit number is an upcoming proposal that owners will assess. It will be interesting to see if it will pass but jersey changes potentially lead to more merchandise sales which equal more money in the owners’ pockets.
“A proposal that owners will vote on at the upcoming league meeting would allow single-digit numbers to be worn by more players than just quarterbacks, kickers and punters, who are the only players currently allowed to wear single digits,” Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith detailed. “Under the proposal, defensive backs, linebackers, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, H-backs and wide receivers would all be allowed to wear jerseys in the single digits.”
Smith Wore No. 9 at Notre Dame
Smith wore No. 9 as a standout college player at Notre Dame but switched to No. 54 to comply with NFL rules once he arrived in Dallas. Even Smith’s current number has ties to the No. 9 as the two digits add up to the number.
— Jaylon Smith (@thejaylonsmith) May 3, 2016
Cowboys public relations director Rich Dalrymple recently gave a bit of a history lesson as to why the Cowboys approach retired numbers differently. The explanation dates back to the Cowboys’ original president Tex Schramm.
“For the record, the Cowboys are one of the few — if only — NFL teams that have never officially retired a jersey number,” Dalrymple told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “You will not be able to find any record of a number being officially retired by the club, and we don’t have a ‘Retired Numbers’ page in our media guide. Having said that, there are a few numbers that have not been issued since they have been worn be prominent players in franchise history. (Late team president) Tex Schramm’s vision was to have the Ring of Honor in lieu of having a whole bunch of retired jerseys.”
Cowboys writer Clarence Hill Jr. believes Smith should get his wish if the NFL loosens the jersey restrictions.
“Jaylon Smith wore 9 in college and high school,” Hill tweeted. “He would like to wear in the NFL. And for you Romo truthers, just know that a greater Cowboys player than him wore 54. 33 has also been worn by so called lesser players.”