The NFL changing its jersey number rules in 2021 might have caused some confusion for viewers during the past three seasons.
Previously, longtime fans knew that receivers had to wear numbers between 80 and 89 or 10 and 19. Linebackers had to wear numbers between 40 and 59 or 90 and 99. Now, a player wearing No. 7, for example, could be nearly any position on the field except an offensive or defensive lineman.
For those fans who wish that the league would go back to its old jersey numbering system, quarterbacks agree with that sentiment. Tom Brady expressed his dislike of the expanded jersey number rules when they were first implemented. Nearly three seasons later, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is publicly joining in the disapproval.
During Week 10’s ManningCast on ESPN2, Mahomes explained why he’s no fan of defensive players being allowed to wear more numbers. Quarterbacks have to identify substitutions and packages quickly and can no longer assume that someone wearing No. 1 is a defensive back rather than a linebacker.
“It’s even crazier now because everybody can wear the single digits,” Mahomes told Peyton and Eli Manning. “We actually go in every week and we really emphasize the numbers because when you’ve got a number like No. 7 playing middle linebacker, that can really mess with your tells for the o-linemen. It looks cool, I’ll give everybody that, but it makes it a little difficult for the QB.”
“You get these guys who rotate in, and you’ll get a DB who’s in the 40s and a linebacker in single digits,” he added. “Having to really recognize that quickly.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes bemoaned issues brought on by the NFL’s loosening of jersey number rules during a Monday night ‘ManningCast’ appearance.
Mahomes provides some intriguing insight into how the expanded jersey numbering rules can mess with the quick decisions that a quarterback has to make on the field. Yet it’s curious that more NFL signal-callers haven’t made the same complaint.
However, Uni Watch’s Paul Lukas raises an amusing point. Mahomes should take his issue to Kansas City’s coaches and front office. The Chiefs were the team that proposed expanding jersey numbers for various positions before the 2021 season.