Pro Athletes That Kept Their College Numbers

Pro Athletes That Kept Their College Numbers

College athletes don’t have a ton of choices in the clothes that they put on for gameday. You might not get to choose your colors, logo, mascot, and even the regulations around the numbers. That’s why basketball jersey numbers meaning’s are so important. It’s the one thing that you get to customize.

The team is always more important than the numbers. If you’ve got a favorite team to represent, invest in team pride by grabbing some clothes or accessories. While they don’t have numbers on them—team t-shirts are a great way to show support for your favorite squad.


Pro Athletes that Kept College Numbers, Even if They Had to Pay Cash or Cars

If you’re just becoming a pro athlete, there has to be a certain amount of thrill of seeing the number that you’ve treasured in college, maybe even treasured in high school, become the number that’s on the back of your professional jersey. Some athletes keep their numbers the same, some change their numbers along the way.


Some pro athletes have had to pay to get the numbers that they really want to play in. Clinton Portis had worn 26 from his early days of playing football. But someone else on the Washington Redskins already wore number 26, Ifeanyi Ohalete. Porter offered to pay at least $40K to his teammate for the jersey, but then Ohalete was released from the Redskins, and Porter tried to get out of paying. The thing eventually ended up in court and Portis had to pay Ohalete $18K.


Deion Sanders, primetime, one of the most confident and talented athletes in NFL history, really loved the number 21. When he signed with the Cowboys in 1995, there was already a cornerback—Alundis Brice—who wore the jersey. So when Brice wanted to keep the number, Sanders went out and bought Brice his dream car, a blue BMW 325i, brand new. Brice was blown away by the gift. When he got back to the locker, he found a note in which Sanders kindly asked for his #21 jersey. Sanders got the jersey.


There are some pro players that thought the rules of jerseys simply wouldn’t apply to them. In 1995, Michael Jordan came back out of retirement after playing professional baseball, returning to the Chicago Bulls. The only problem—the iconic #23 which Jordan wore at UNC was now officially retired. And while the player came out of the retirement, the number didn’t. He started wearing #45, which was his number in the MLB. But when the Bulls hit the playoffs, Jordan wanted 23, and the Chicago Bulls decided to allow it. So the Bulls ended up getting fined $100K for allowing Jordan to wear a retired number which was different than his actual number for the season.


The Oregon Ducks have had some of the coolest uniforms ever played in through their partnership with Nike’s design teams. They also have a policy that says that they won’t retire numbers. It would take a pretty big name to change that policy. So until then, you can technically get any legal NCAA football number or basketball number when you play for the ducks.


NCAA Football Jersey Numbers Rules

In the NFL, there are fairly strict rules about who can wear what numbers and when they can wear them. But NCAA rules are a bit more flexible. The NCAA has a number of suggestions for your numbers. Backs should wear numbers 1-49, and the center should be in the 50s, and guards should be in the 60s, and tackles should be in the 70s, while ends should be in the 80s and 90s. But the rules are not set in stone. You can even have multiple players with the same number on the same team, as long as they aren’t on the field at the same time.


Some of those rules are a little less flexible though. For example, the five interior lineman have to have numbers between 50-79. If you have a different number for someone on the end of the line, they have to report to the ref before that play begins.


However, as of 2020, there are new rule proposals that would allow players to wear number 0. The number 0 and 00 is already widely used in college basketball, and it opens an additional dress number up for a team. Since you can only have 99 numbers and some players in backfield positions will only wear numbers below 50—and sometimes the lower the better—it would expand the number of digits that could be worn.


NCAA Basketball Jersey Numbers Rules

Basketball Jersey Numbers Rules

Because of the changes to numbers rules in the NCAA, some of the greatest basketball players of all time would no longer be able to get the college numbers that they had when they played in college. 


College basketball has stated that you have to have numbers on both the front and back of the jersey and that the numbers must be easily seen in the neutral zone of the jersey. The number has to be 6 inches high on the back, and 4 inches high on the front.


For other players, if you don’t have cool uniforms, having a cool number can be the only redeeming quality. Check out our list of the best and worst uniforms of all time. If you’ve got one of the worst uniforms, you better try to get a good number! What are the best numbers of all time? Basketball Reference actually calculated win shares for each number in history to figure out the most talented numbers. Win shares are basically how much a player is responsible for the win. The top-performing number is #33, followed by 10, 21, 24, 21, 4, and 34. The worst numbers? 92, 46, and 61 all have negative win shares for the number, meaning the players hurt you more than helped you. Numbers 0 and 00 are about in the middle of the pack, with about 200 and 300 win shares respectively.


00 Jersey Meaning

In the last few years, the NCAA switched some of the rules on the numbers that you can put on the back of your jersey. Basketball jersey numbers meaning changed so that the refs can signal each of the numbers that is on the court using only one hand. The NCAA outlawed putting 6, 7, 8, and 9 on the back of a jersey, meaning that only 0-5 are allowed. By making a fist or putting up a number of fingers, an NCAA ref can easily signal any of those five numbers with a single hand. This allows them to easily signal both numbers, from 00-55, by using only a single number for a single hand.


The reason that you’ll see an increasing number of 00s or 0s on the court is that the number of digits that players can wear has been limited. In addition to schools that have retired jersey numbers, there is now a limited stock to choose from. Players are going at the 0 or 00 because it is available. And it’s kind of cool. Also, keep in mind that the NCAA rules state that you are allowed to have a 0 or a 00 on your team, but not both.

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