Pro athletes choose and wear a specific number as part of their legacy. Most teams acknowledge these great players by retiring their jersey, but not all.
For instance, the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons have not traditionally retired any jersey, making them the few NFL teams to do so. The Raiders take it a step further and have a strict policy not to retire a jersey, keeping all numbers eligible at all times. On the other end of the spectrum are the Chicago Bears and New York Giants with 14 retired jerseys.
Retired jersey numbers may look different in the future from what we’re used to.
This offseason the league approved new jersey number ranges for certain positions. Both rookies and veterans around the league are taking the chance to update their threads or numbers, rather. Some notable players are Budda Baker, Kyle Pitts, Patrick Peterson, Jaycee Horn, Emmanuel Sanders, Darius Slay, Sterling Shepard, Jaylon Smith, Marquise Brown and the list continues to grow!
The most notable Chicago Bear to change his number is Eddie Jackson, going from #39 to #4. He had some great plays in his original jersey, but let’s see what he will bring in a single-digit he is familiar playing in.
No matter how great Jackson plays or any Bear for that matter, they will not have their jersey retired by the Chicago Bears. Back in 2013 when the Bears retired Mike Ditka’s #89 they made a statement that it would be the last. Although we know this, it’s hard to fathom other players wearing a jersey we associate with a great player. We have seen the time gap it took for #50 to come back into circulation, and we are currently in the waiting period before #54 hits the field with someone other than Brian Urlacher.
As of 2021, Mike Singletary’s #50 jersey has been worn by five different players since he retired in 1992: James Anderson (2013), Shea McClellin (2014), Jerrell Freeman (2016), Barkevious Mingo (2020) and at the time of this article Jeremiah Attaochu (2021). At this point #50 has become a revolving door and will continue to do so.
Urlacher’s #54 has been untouched since he retired. No one has worn it since the Hall-of-Fame linebacker retired from the league in 2013. It will be difficult to see anyone wearing those digits. Who will be the first? Maybe an offensive lineman? Who knows, but once one player takes the leap (and gets the blessing) it will soften the blow just like how #50 has been in constant rotation.
As one of the league’s charter franchises there have been many greats in navy and orange over the years, hence the 14 retired jerseys.
Here is the list of Chicago’s retired numbers in numerical order: 3, 5, 7, 28, 34, 40, 41, 42, 51, 56, 61, 66, 77, 89.
What are the names behind the numbers?
In case you were wondering who wore which retired number, the list is below.
You will notice some odd number assignments for unusual positions. The league had different jersey rules back in the day, so it’s interesting that the latest jersey update mentioned at the beginning of the article is coming full circle.
Check out our greats, Bears fans!
There you have it!
A historic team built from historic players that are simply recognized by a number on a jersey.
It was a pleasure to dig into Bears history and I hope you got as much enjoyment out of this article as me. Let’s go Bears.