Ex-Steelers Linebacker Changes Jersey Number to Honor Kobe Bryant

Melvin Ingram

Getty Melvin Ingram rushes edge versus Philadelphia Eagles.

New team, new jersey number. Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Melvin Ingram changed his number when he joined the Kansas City Chiefs on November 2.

According to ESPN staff writer Adam Teicher, Ingram will wear No. 24 for the Chiefs; he wore No. 8 with the Steelers. He said both numbers are a tribute to the late NBA icon Kobe Bryant.

“I started off with a Kobe mentality from the beginning of the year,” Ingram told the Chiefs media. “It’s just a never-stop, never-give-up, keep-grinding type [of] mentality … Coming here, I just wanted to keep the same mentality, really.”

Bryant died tragically in a helicopter crash while en route to his daughter’s basketball tournament on January 26, 2020. All nine passengers, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, perished instantly when the plane careened into a hillside.

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Per Shannon McCarriston of CBS Sports, Bryant is the only player in league history to have two jersey numbers — No. 8 and No. 24 — retired with the same team (Los Angeles Lakers).

Ahead of retirement in 2017, Bryant explained to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes that changing numbers midway through his career was meant as a sign of maturity and growth as a player.

“When I first came in at 8, is really trying to ‘plant your flag’ sort of thing. I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff.

“Then 24 is a growth from that. Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve. It’s not to say one is better than the other or one’s a better way to be. It’s just growth.”

Boswell’s Back

Clutch Steelers kicker Chris Boswell started the week in concussion protocol after a nasty hit from Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Jordan Elliott on a fake field goal in Week 8. Though the injury limited Boswell in practice on November 4, he was a full participant the following day, according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.

The Steelers didn’t have a backup kicker rostered in their victory over the Browns, which changed their strategy regarding going for it on 4th down and two-point conversions.

Having Boswell back in the lineup will literally be a game-changer for Pittsburgh versus the Chicago Bears on Monday, November 8. With 92.3 percent of field goals made and 94.7 percent of extra points (Pro Football Reference), Boswell is responsible for 48 of the Steelers’ 132 points this season.

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