Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady didn’t mince words in reacting to the NFL’s recent jersey number rule change.
On Wednesday, the NFL owners “approved a relaxation of rules” for jersey number designations by position according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. Notably, the multiple position groups could start wearing single digits: defensive backs, linebackers, running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers. The NFL made the change “because of expanded practice squads” Seifert reported.
Brady ranted about it on two Instagram stories on Thursday. He wrote, “why not let the lineman wear whatever they want, too? Why have numbers? Just have colored jerseys … why not wear the same number? … Dumb.”
“Good luck trying to block the right people now,” Brady added in his second Instagram story. “(It’s) going to make for a lot of bad football.”
ESPN’s Jenna Laine wrote that Brady’s concern stemmed from his belief it “will cause safety issues for the offense, such as identifying blitzers or who’s the middle linebacker on the defense.” She reported that Brady directed his disapproval toward the players association and the league.
Brady didn’t stop there. He took to Twitter about the issue later on Thursday but with a lighter-hearted tone. “I would like to speak to the manager please,” Brady wrote.
I would like to speak to the manager please… https://t.co/482q4ysoia
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) April 22, 2021
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Who Can Wear What?
Brady included the jersey number breakdown by position from the league in his second Instagram story post.
Quarterbacks, punters, and placekickers can wear numbers 1-19 while defensive backs can take numbers 1-49. Running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers can don 1-49 and 80-89. Offensive lineman can choose 50-79, but defensive linemen get 50-79 or 90-99. Linebackers get almost everything with 1-59 and 90-99.
Before the change, only quarterbacks, kickers, and punters could wear single-digit numbers per NFL.com’s Kevin Patra.
Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Cwlk noted that changing numbers won’t pose safety issues because of differences in jersey colors and teams seeing the new numbers on the film the study. Cwlk also quipped that Brady might struggle with the number changes on the field.
“Perhaps he’ll be so confused he won’t be able to make the proper calls at the line again and his Hall of Fame career will be exposed,” Cwlk wrote. “Sound ridiculous? Yeah, because it is.”
Ironies of Brady’s Social Media Rant
Brady looked at taking the No. 7 in 2020 when he joined the Bucs in free agency because wide receiver Chris Godwin wore No. 12, which Brady had in New England. Godwin switched to No. 14 so Brady could wear No. 12 again.
Brady has been a double-digit wearer throughout his football career. He wore No. 12 in high school at Junipero Serra in San Mateo, California, but wore No. 10 in college at Michigan.
Also ironic, the team Brady and the Bucs beat in Super Bowl LV, the Kansas City Chiefs proposed the change per Patra. Some teams had jersey numbers issues because the NFL’s COVID-19 adjustments included larger practice squads.
Players won’t be able to change their numbers too easily in 2021, however. A player changing his number for this coming season “will have to buy out the inventory of the NFL’s manufacturing partners” according to Seifert. That won’t apply for players changing numbers beyond 2021, he noted.
Some skill players may make the change, Patra noted, as they wore single-digit jerseys in college.