A.J. Brown had a timely idea, one that undeniably came across the minds of many players across the National Football League on Wednesday.
Owners approved a proposal, put forth by the Kansas City Chiefs, that expands which positions can wear which numbers. For example, defensive backs, linebackers, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends and wide receivers now can wear single digits.
Defensive backs can wear 1-49; running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, H-backs and wide receivers can wear 1-49 and 80-89; offensive lineman can wear 50-79; defensive linemen can wear 50-79 and 90-99; and linebackers can wear 1-59 and 90-99.
In Brown’s case, the thought of changing his jersey number from No. 11 to No. 1 crossed his mind. But not long after, the third-year wide receiver stopped in his tracks. The Tennessee Titans’ Pro Bowler realized that he would have to get special permission from Warren Moon, the Hall of Fame quarterback whose No. 1 jersey has been retired by the organization since 2006.
“@WMoon1 I was about to bother you and ask you Is there anyway I could wear the #1 until I read your Bio I’m not even deserving tbh (to be honest),” Brown wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for the game. Legend!! Salute!!”
This is the challenge that players who wish to take advantage of this particular rule change face. Not only have some numbers been retired by teams, but players may also have request permission to take a number already worn by teammates.
AllTitans takes a look at some notable Titans who might want to switch numbers, including some who may have to have a tough conversation with a teammate.
Retired numbers: No. 1 (Warren Moon), No. 9 (Steve McNair), No. 27 (Eddie George), No. 34 (Earl Campbell), No. 43 (Jim Norton), No. 63 (Mike Munchak), No. 65 (Elvin Bethea) and No. 74 (Bruce Matthews).
Derrick Henry, running back
Current number: 22
Henry is in the clear to switch his jersey number to No. 2. He became the all-time high school football rushing leader wearing that number, which Yulee High School in Florida retired in his honor in May 2019. Donning the same number at the University of Alabama, he won the Heisman Trophy, helped the Crimson Tide win Southeastern Conference and National championships and earned numerous other awards.
The Pro Bowl running back might want to ride with No. 22, though. He has won two rushing titles and became the eighth member of the 2,000-yard club with that jersey number.
Harold Landry, outside linebacker
Current number: 58
Landry, who has led the Titans in sacks in each of the last two seasons, wore No. 7 at Boston College. He set the program’s single-season sack record as a junior in 2016 (16.5) and sits second all-time in program history with 26 career sacks.
However, he would have to make a deal with Tucker McCann, the undrafted kicker (2020) who currently wears No. 7.
Ty Sambrailo, offensive lineman
Current number: 74
The recently resigned utility offensive lineman wore No. 51 for four seasons at Colorado State. It’s unlikely he is able to pry it from David Long, though. The third-year linebacker currently owns that one. If Long gave up that number, there’s little chance he’d be able to get the one he wore in college (11) since Brown already admitted that he won’t attempt to switch to No. 1.
Jayon Brown, linebacker
Current number: 55
Brown re-signed with the Titans on a one-year deal this offseason, and has worn No. 55 since his rookie season (2017). He wore No. 12 at UCLA, though, and that is a number that no Titan currently has.
Darrynton Evans, running back
Current number: 32
The second-year running back had a standout career at Appalachian State wearing No. 3. Four-time Pro Bowl kicker Stephen Gostkowski wore that number last season, as he has for his entire career, but he is currently a free agent. No. 3 is there for Evans if he wants it (at least for now).
Rashaan Evans, linebacker
Current number: 54
If Evans switches to No. 3, that would give Rashaan Evans an opportunity to take back No. 32, which he wore at the University of Alabama for four seasons.