Will Tahir Whitehead Wear No. 59 in Carolina?
Following the announcement that the Panthers signed linebacker Tahir Whitehead to a one-year, $2.5 million deal, one of the first things that fans may have noticed was the No. 59 he wore with this former team, the Oakland Raiders.
Considering the fact that Luke Kuechly unexpectedly retired at the beginning of the offseason, it may leave a bad taste in the mouths of many fans if a brand new linebacker came in and wore the exact number that Kuechly wore for his entire career in Carolina.
After all, Kuechly is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Panthers, so it seemed inevitable for people to see this situation as a potentially problematic one. Kuechly's number will be retired in Carolina someday, so seeing a player with his jersey number after his final year with the team may be seen in a negative viewpoint by the fans.
However, Whitehead doesn't seem too concerned about the number he wears on the field. He's more focused on putting in the work in order to win games for Carolina this year. Here's what he had to say when he was asked about his jersey number with the Panthers:
"I haven't really thought about it too much. Even prior to my rookie year there wasn't really much that went into having the number. So at this point it would just be wearing the number I've had my whole career. We haven't really talked about it, but I know Luke and how much he's done he's a great guy and great player, and all around it would be different for people to see me in the number. At the end of the day, we're going to see how that goes and just go from there. At this point I'm not worried about the number. I'm focused on training and getting out there with the fellas, my teammates, the coaching staff, and really just start understanding the scheme and win some games and play some football."
Whitehead continued to talk about matching Kuechly's impact to this organization by stating the following:
"I'm still not sure what position I'm going to play, but Luke's one of the guys I've admired from afar. That would have been dope if I would've been able to play with Luke. I'm just trying to get in where I fit in and offer the leadership capabilities that I know that I'll be able to bring to the table.... I'm going to go out there and try and make some of the plays Luke did. I'm definitely going to challenge myself to be as key of a piece to this defense as he was."
This seems like a good sign, considering that the No. 59 may still be a soft spot for Panthers fans. Whitehead's focus, like most of the other members of the Panthers organization, is on winning. The twenty-nine year old linebacker is seemingly dedicated to the success of this rebuilding defense. It seems likely that he will not be wearing 59 for the Panthers this season, but time will tell. Hopefully, for the fans' sake, Whitehead will be making big plays on defense in another jersey number in 2020.
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