In 1973, the NFL standardized jersey numbers by place group, at which level the one gamers who got single-digit uniform numbers had been quarterbacks, punters and placeholders, however there was a catch — nobody was granted No. 0.
In 2021, guidelines modifications led to higher flexibility with uniform numbers, nevertheless it wasn’t till this spring that the NFL lastly introduced again No. 0 for everybody however offensive and defensive linemen.
Twenty-two gamers are presently set to put on zero in 2023, which is greater than the overall who wore it beforehand. In keeping with Professional Soccer Reference, 19 gamers donned No. 0 or No. 00 earlier than the 1973 rule change.
Maybe probably the most memorable No. 0 in NFL historical past wasn’t an precise soccer participant. Journalist George Plimpton sported a zero on his uniform when he joined the Detroit Lions for coaching camp in 1963 in preparation for writing his “Paper Lion” e-book, however he by no means performed in a recreation.
Tailback/quarterback Johnny Clement was nicknamed Mr. Zero, donning the uniform from 1946 to 1948 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nonetheless, the Steelers, just like the New England Patriots, have not provided up the brand new uniform choice to gamers in 2023.
Oakland Raiders Corridor of Fame heart Jim Otto wore No. 00 as a wordplay off his title (Aught-Oh), however there will not be any double-zeros in 2023 as a result of the NFL hasn’t given the OK to convey that quantity mixture again.
Now that No. 0 is accessible after a 50-year absence, what drew gamers to the weird jersey choice this season? Here is what a few of them informed our NFL Nation reporters:
Being the primary to be zero
D’Andre Swift, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
“That is the primary yr gamers are allowed to put on that quantity, so it is form of cool to be the primary individual to place it on, particularly being from right here,” stated Swift, who grew up a fan of his hometown Eagles. — Tim McManus
Zach Pascal, WR, Arizona Cardinals
When Pascal wanted to select a quantity after signing with the Cardinals in March, he needed a single digit after sporting No. 3 with the Eagles final season, however he did not have many selections. Solely No. 8 was out there.
An enormous basketball fan, Pascal was used to seeing 0 or 00 on NBA jerseys. He thought it was only a matter of time till it got here to the NFL.
Now that it is lastly right here, he could not resist.
“There is not any which means behind it,” Pascal stated. “Only a cool quantity. The primary time having the ability to put on zero. It is nearly iconic. First individual to put on zero. So simply having enjoyable with it.” — Josh Weinfuss
Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami Dolphins
“I imply clearly it was new, it was totally different, it was cool ” Berrios stated. “After I acquired right here, there wasn’t a lot open, so I form of fell into it and I prefer it. I am embracing it and it is the primary yr … so I believe that is form of a nuance to it. However yeah, I am excited for it.” — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Zero because the letter O
Calvin Ridley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ridley would not take a look at it as if he is sporting 0. To him, it is an O. He stated he selected zero as a result of his center title is Orin and he needed that hyperlink to his household.
“My mother known as us the COR boys once we had been little as a result of all of us have the identical initials,” Ridley stated. “So it is C, O, R, Calvin Orin [Ridley].”
When the NFL introduced that gamers had been going to have the ability to put on No. 0, he turned the primary Jaguars participant to ask for it.
“I needed to be the primary one to get it for certain,” he stated. “That is why when it got here out I stated, ‘All proper, y’all get it out now.'” — Michael DiRocco
Jonathon Cooper, OLB, Denver Broncos
Cooper, a seventh-round choose from Ohio State within the 2021 draft, was awarded the “Block O” jersey in his ultimate season with the Buckeyes. The award is in honor of the late Invoice Willis, an All-American and nationwide champion in his profession with the Buckeyes (1942-44). Willis’ No. 99 was retired by the college, however the Block O jersey was added to honor a participant’s accountability, character and toughness. Cooper was one of many first two gamers to obtain the respect.
“I had my greatest yr in that jersey. It is in all probability the most effective award I ever acquired at Ohio State. I’ve it framed and hanging at my home,” Cooper stated. “And as quickly because the NFL stated we might put on zero, I needed it. There was just a little little bit of a dialogue between a complete bunch of gamers right here, however I got here away with it. It seems cool on a jersey, nevertheless it means one thing to me. For no matter motive, I believe that quantity says regardless of the group wants me to do, I am going to do.” — Jeff Legwold
Zero, as in ‘zero probability’
Byron Younger, OLB, Los Angeles Rams
When Younger arrived on the College of Tennessee in 2021, he selected No. 0 as a result of it represented how unlikely his path to big-time soccer had been.
“The place I got here from and my journey, [it] was like mainly a 0 p.c probability so that you can make it to this stage,” stated Younger, who had been an assistant supervisor at a reduction grocery store earlier than deciding to present soccer one other probability at a Georgia junior school in the course of the pandemic.
After being drafted within the third spherical by the Rams, the rookie edge rusher needed to maintain the quantity to remind himself and hopefully encourage others.
“I fought by means of it and now I am right here, so I do not wish to overlook that half,” he stated. — Daniel Greenspan
Daiyan Henley, LB, Los Angeles Chargers
Henley says sporting No. 0 in his rookie season with the Chargers was a household choice. A local of Crenshaw, California — about 5.5 miles north of the Chargers’ dwelling at SoFi Stadium — Henley says he had a couple of “zero” probability of being chosen by a hometown group till his dream turned a actuality and the Bolts drafted the Washington State product with a third-round choose.
“As soon as it occurred after which zero was out there,” Henley defined, “and [my family] was telling me, like, I might be the primary one ever to [wear] it, I used to be similar to, I acquired to go along with the household’s alternative.” — Lindsey Thiry
Hearth and ice
Parris Campbell, WR, New York Giants
Campbell did not like his selections after he signed as a free agent. It was both 19 or 80-something due to all of the retired single-digit numbers for the Giants. Fortunately for Campbell, the brand new rule permitting gamers to put on zero handed lower than two weeks after he signed.
“I noticed on Twitter that it was out there. As quickly as I noticed it, I hit up the [equipment] guys and was like. ‘I would like zero,'” Campbell stated.
It “seems hearth!” — Jordan Raanan
Ugo Amadi, DB, New Orleans Saints
“I needed a single digit, and it went fairly effectively with my title. In the future at follow, Coach was like ‘Hey, Sub-Zero, get in actual fast!’ I assumed ‘Sub-Zero’ sounds actually cool and that title went with this quantity, in order that’s just about why I went with it.” — Katherine Terrell
Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Detroit Lions
Throughout his earlier stint with the Lions (2016-20), Jones wore No. 11. Nonetheless, upon returning as a free agent this offseason, the quantity was already taken by teammate Kalif Raymond, so he leaned on his three oldest youngsters, Marvin III, Mareon and Murrell, for the brand new quantity choice.
“It was a choice from my youngsters, so they really made it,” Jones stated. “There have been a few numbers out there, in order that they had been like, ‘Daddy, get 0.’ So, I am like, OK. I am going to strive it.
“Then I put it on, and I used to be like, ‘That is chilly.’ So, I am glad I acquired the Sub-Zero stuff happening.” — Eric Woodyard
A brand new starting
Roquan Smith, LB, Baltimore Ravens
“Earlier than you begin with ‘1,’ you begin with ‘0.’ I really feel prefer it’s simply the beginning of one thing,” Smith stated. “That is my first begin of a season with the Ravens, and I see no higher quantity that represents that journey to greatness. I wish to make a reputation for myself right here. I would like my title to be cemented right here. So, I am the primary to put on ‘0’ and I wish to be the primary individual to do so much for this group.” — Jamison Hensley
Marcus Davenport, OLB, Minnesota Vikings
Davenport needed a recent begin when he signed with the Vikings as an unrestricted free agent. In 5 seasons with the Saints, Davenport had been a pass-rusher with out the sack numbers to show it. He managed only a half-sack in 2022, regardless of a strong strain fee of 14%, and his want to start anew flowed right through his alternative of quantity for 2023.
“I had a pair choices and requested my spouse about them,” Davenport stated. “It was actually between 11 and 0, and he or she stated, ‘Simply go be totally different. Be zero.’ So that is what it was. For me, it was simply a part of having a brand new starting, you recognize?” — Kevin Seifert
Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, Tennessee Titans
Murphy-Bunting selected the quantity as a result of he wore No. 23 with the Buccaneers, however Tre Avery has that quantity with the Titans. He figured since nobody wore No. 0 earlier than and it was out there, it was a good selection.
“It was that straightforward,” he stated. “The quantity I had was taken, so it was one thing the place I assumed, ‘New scenario, new atmosphere. Why not begin recent?’ That was my mindset going into it.” — Turron Davenport
Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns
Newsome stated he “needed a recent begin” after an up-and-down second season in 2022. He additionally thought it was “fairly cool to be the primary Cleveland Brown to put on zero.”
Newsome was moved from exterior cornerback to nickelback final season and struggled at occasions with the transition. He has but to file an interception within the NFL regardless of beginning 26 video games for the Browns. He is hoping the brand new quantity will convey him extra luck in making performs.
“I hope so,” he stated. “Get just a little bit extra manufacturing, I hope that is what it causes. … I believe I am prepared to actually make that subsequent leap.” — Jake Trotter
Brian Burns, OLB, Carolina Panthers
Burns preferred the quantity earlier than it turned well-liked, so when the Panthers employed a brand new teaching employees, made the swap to a brand new 3-4 primarily based protection and moved the two-time Professional Bowler from finish to exterior linebacker, he determined a brand new quantity could be applicable.
“I really feel prefer it’s a variety of new round right here,” Burns defined. “So I really feel like, why not do it? It is a new starting.” — David Newton
Being a very good teammate
Devin Bush, LB, Seattle Seahawks
Bush ended up sporting No. 0 out of necessity — and his personal benevolence. Bush wore 55 with the Steelers, however that was already taken when he joined the Seahawks. He initially picked 11, his quantity at Michigan, however then the Seahawks drafted Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who wore 11 in school.
“I gave it to the rookie,” Bush stated. “He can have it. After which I came upon zero was open and it form of simply fell into my lap and I am form of liking it now.”
Bush is aware of he might have charged the twentieth general choose a very good amount of cash for No. 11, however he did not cost him something.
“You solely get drafted as soon as,” he stated. — Brady Henderson
Lorenzo Carter, DE/OLB, Atlanta Falcons
Carter’s path to No. 0 began due to his quarterback, Desmond Ridder, who needed No. 9 final season, though Carter wasn’t altering his quantity for a rookie. Nonetheless, after Ridder gained the beginning job and Carter returned for 2023, he determined to present it to Ridder.
Carter preferred the idea of No. 0 as a result of “it holds some weight to it, undoubtedly. You’ve got acquired eyes on you.” Carter noticed followers inform him on social media “that is what number of sacks you are going to have,” which he laughed at.
He additionally spoke along with his sister, Larrisa, who had labored with the NBA’s Portland Path Blazers, so she helped him perceive the significance of No. 0 due to NBA stars like Damian Lillard and Gilbert Arenas. She’s the one who made it clear to her brother “there is a fraternity of zeroes, and nil in athletics is held excessive.”
“You bought to convey it,” Carter stated. “You bought to earn that quantity and earn your proper to put on that quantity.” — Michael Rothstein
Mike Reiss and Brooke Pryor contributed to this story.