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San Francisco 49ers. retired numbers displayed at Candlestick Park in June 2009

Teams in the National Football League (NFL) retire jersey numbers of players who either are considered by the team to have made significant contributions to that team's success, or who have experienced untimely deaths during their playing career. As with other leagues, once a team retires a player's jersey number, it never issues the number to any other player, unless the player or team explicitly allows it.

History

The Green Bay Packers retired numbers on display at Lambeau Field, which include Reggie White, the only NFL player to have his number retired by two teams.

Since NFL teams began retiring numbers, 163 players have had their jersey number retired. The Chicago Bears and the New York Giants have the most retired numbers of the teams with 14 each.

While only one player, Reggie White, has had his number retired by two teams, Peyton Manning received an acknowledgment when the Denver Broncos re-retired the number 18, which is officially retired under the name of Frank Tripucka (Tripucka granted Manning a special exception to wear the number).[1] Three teams, the Las Vegas Raiders,[2] the Atlanta Falcons,[3][4] and the Dallas Cowboys[5] traditionally do not retire jersey numbers. Also without a retired jersey number are the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans, though these teams are less than 30 years old: in this regard, the Texans do not retire numbers but honor player jerseys instead.

The Buffalo Bills under Ralph Wilson also did not, with the exception of Jim Kelly, officially retire jersey numbers: this policy was reversed under Wilson's successor Terry Pegula.[6]

Unlike Major League Baseball (which retired Jackie Robinson's number 42), the National Hockey League (which retired Wayne Gretzky's 99), and the National Basketball Association (which retired Bill Russell's 6), the NFL has never retired a jersey number league-wide in honor of anyone.

Number 00 is no longer allowed, but was not retired in honor of any particular player; rather, the NFL's positional numbering system, instituted in 1973, does not allocate a position for players wearing that number- the NFL allowed 00 in the past, with Jim Otto and Ken Burrough wearing it. The number can be, and rarely is, used in the preseason when no other numbers for a player's position are available.[7]

Retired numbers

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Jim Kelly in 2010
Jim Kelly, the first player to have his jersey number (12) officially retired by the Buffalo Bills, is seen here in 2010
Otto Graham in 1959
Otto Graham, whose number 14 was retired by the Browns, at his new job, as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Athletic Director in 1959
Jim Brown's #32 was retired by the Browns after his 9-years tenure on the franchise
Lenny Moore in 2011
Lenny Moore, whose number 24 was retired by the Colts, poses for a picture at Baltimore in 2011
Junior Seau in 2008
Junior Seau, whose number 55 was retired by the Chargers, in 2008 playing a game with the New England Patriots
Phil Simms in 2003
Phil Simms, whose number 11 was retired by the Giants, signing autographs at Rams Park in 2003
Gale Sayers giving a speech in 2008
Gale Sayers, whose number 40 was retired by the Bears, giving a keynote speech at an awards ceremony in 2008 for the U.S. Army High School Football Player of the Year award
Mike Ditka in the press booth of a pre-season football game
Mike Ditka, whose number 89 was retired by the Bears in a Monday night game against the Dallas Cowboys
Fran Tarkenton in 2010
Fran Tarkenton, whose number 10 was retired by the Vikings, after giving a speech at Atlanta in 2010
Warren Sapp visiting members of the US Navy
Warren Sapp (left), whose number 99 was retired by the Buccaneers, visits members of the US Navy in 2003
Peyton Manning's number 18 was retired by the Colts in 2017
Sonny Jurgensen's number 9 was retired by the Washington Commanders in 2022
Player No. Team Tenure Year retired Refs.[8]
Larry Wilson 8 Arizona Cardinals 1960–1972 1970
Pat Tillman 40 1998–2001 2004 [9]
Stan Mauldin 77 1946–1948
J. V. Cain 88 1974–1978 1979
Marshall Goldberg[a] 99 1939–1943,
1946–1948
Jim Kelly 12 Buffalo Bills 1986–1996 2001 [12]
Thurman Thomas 34 1988–1999 2018 [13]
Bruce Smith 78 1985–1999 2016 [14]
Sam Mills 51 Carolina Panthers 1995–1997 2005
Bronko Nagurski 3 Chicago Bears 1930–1937, 1943 [15]
George McAfee 5 1940–1941,
1945–1950
1955 [15]
George Halas 7 1920–1928 [15]
Willie Galimore 28 1957–1963 [15]
Walter Payton 34 1975–1987 [15]
Gale Sayers 40 1965–1971 1994 [15]
Brian Piccolo 41 1965–1969 [15]
Sid Luckman 42 1939–1950 [15]
Dick Butkus 51 1965–1973 1994 [15]
Bill Hewitt 56 1932–1936 [15]
Bill George 61 1952–1965 [15]
Bulldog Turner 66 1940–1952 [15]
Red Grange 77 1925–1934 [15]
Mike Ditka 89 1961–1966 2013 [16][15]
Bob Johnson 54 Cincinnati Bengals 1968–1979 1978
Otto Graham 14 Cleveland Browns 1946–1955
Jim Brown 32 1957–1965
Ernie Davis 45 1962[b] 1963
Don Fleming 46 1960–1962
Lou Groza 76 1946–1959,
1961–1967
1968 [20][21]
John Elway 7 Denver Broncos 1983–1998 1999 [22][23]
Frank Tripucka[c] 18 1960–1963 1963 [23]
Floyd Little 44 1967–1975 1984 [23]
Dutch Clark 7 Detroit Lions 1931–1932,
1934–1938
1939 [28][29][30]
Lem Barney 20 1967–1977 2004 [31][32]
Barry Sanders 1989–1998
Billy Sims 1980–1984
Bobby Layne 22 1950–1958 [28]
Doak Walker 37 1950–1955 1955 [28][33][34]
Joe Schmidt 56 1953–1965 [28]
Chuck Hughes 85 1970–1971 [28]
Tony Canadeo 3 Green Bay Packers 1941–1952 1952
Brett Favre 4 1992–2007 2015
Don Hutson 14 1935–1945 1951
Bart Starr 15 1956–1971 1973
Ray Nitschke 66 1958–1972 1983
Reggie White 92 1993–1998 1999 [35]
Peyton Manning 18 Indianapolis Colts 1998–2011 2017 [36]
Johnny Unitas 19 1956–1972 [37]
Buddy Young 22 1953–1955 [37]
Lenny Moore 24 1956–1967 1968 [37]
Art Donovan 70 1953–1961 1962 [37]
Jim Parker 77 1957–1967 [37]
Raymond Berry 82 1955–1967 [37]
Gino Marchetti 89 1953–1966 [37]
Tony Boselli 71 Jacksonville Jaguars 1995–2001 2022 [38]
Jan Stenerud 3 Kansas City Chiefs 1967–1979 1992
Len Dawson 16 1962–1975
Emmitt Thomas 18 1966–1978 2008
Abner Haynes 28 1960–1964
Stone Johnson 33 1963[d] 1963 [42]
Mack Lee Hill 36 1964–1965
Derrick Thomas 58 1989–1999 2009 [43]
Willie Lanier 63 1967–1977 1992
Bobby Bell 78 1963–1974 1984
Buck Buchanan 86 1963–1975 1992
Dan Fouts 14 Los Angeles Chargers[e] 1973–1987 1988 [48][49][50]
Charlie Joiner 18 1976–1986 2023 [51]
Lance Alworth 19 1962–1970 2005 [50][52]
LaDainian Tomlinson 21 2001–2009 2015 [50][53]
Junior Seau 55 1990–2002 2012 [50][54]
Kellen Winslow 80 1979–1987 2023 [51]
Bob Waterfield 7 Los Angeles Rams 1945–1952 1952
Marshall Faulk 28 1999–2006 2007 [55]
Eric Dickerson 29 1983–1987
Merlin Olsen 74 1962–1976
Deacon Jones 75 1961–1971 2009 [56]
Jackie Slater 78 1976–1995 1996
Isaac Bruce 80 1994–2007 2010 [57]
Jack Youngblood 85 1971–1984
Bob Griese 12 Miami Dolphins 1967–1980 1985
Dan Marino 13 1983–1999 2000
Larry Csonka 39 1968–1974, 1979 2002
Fran Tarkenton 10 Minnesota Vikings 1961–1966,
1972–1978
1979
Mick Tingelhoff 53 1962–1978 2001
Jim Marshall 70 1961–1979 1999
Korey Stringer 77 1995–2000 2001
Cris Carter 80 1990–2001 2003
Alan Page 88 1967–1978 1988
Gino Cappelletti 20 New England Patriots 1960–1970 [58]
Mike Haynes 40 1976–1982 [59]
Steve Nelson 57 1974–1987 1988 [59]
John Hannah 73 1973–1985 [59]
Bruce Armstrong 78 1987–2000 2000 [59]
Jim Lee Hunt 79 1960–1970 [59]
Bob Dee 89 1960–1967 [59]
Ray Flaherty 1 New York Giants 1928–1935 1935
Tuffy Leemans 4 1936–1943 1940
Mel Hein 7 1931–1945 1963
Eli Manning 10 2004–2019 2021 [60]
Phil Simms 11 1979–1993 1995
Ward Cuff 14 1937–1945 1946 [61]
Y. A. Tittle 1961–1964 1965
Frank Gifford 16 1952–1964 2000
Al Blozis 32 1942–1944 1945
Joe Morrison 40 1959–1972 1973
Charlie Conerly 42 1948–1961 1962
Ken Strong 50 1936–1947 1968
Lawrence Taylor 56 1981–1993 1994
Michael Strahan 92 1993–2007 2021 [62]
Joe Namath 12 New York Jets 1965–1976 1985
Don Maynard 13 1963–1972
Curtis Martin 28 1998–2005 2012 [63]
Joe Kłecko 73 1977–1987 2004
Dennis Byrd 90 1989–1992 2012 [64][65]
Weeb Ewbank Jacket 1963–1973
Donovan McNabb 5 Philadelphia Eagles 1999–2009 2013 [66]
Steve Van Buren 15 1944–1951 1951 [67]
Brian Dawkins 20 1996–2008 2012 [68]
Tom Brookshier 40 1953–1961 1962 [67]
Pete Retzlaff 44 1956–1966 1965 [67]
Chuck Bednarik 60 1949–1962
Al Wistert 70 1944–1951 1952 [67]
Reggie White 92 1985–1992 2005 [67][69]
Jerome Brown 99 1987–1991 1992 [67][70]
Franco Harris 32 Pittsburgh Steelers 1972–1983 2022 [71]
Ernie Stautner 70 1950–1963 1964
Joe Greene 75 1969–1981 2014 [72]
Steve Young 8 San Francisco 49ers 1987–1999 2008 [73]
John Brodie[f] 12 1957–1973 1973
Joe Montana 16 1979–1992 1997
Joe Perry 34 1948–1960 1971
Jimmy Johnson 37 1961–1976 1977
Hugh McElhenny 39 1952–1960 1971
Ronnie Lott 42 1981–1990 2003 [75]
Charlie Krueger 70 1959–1973 1974
Leo Nomellini 73 1950–1963 1971
Bob St. Clair 79 1953–1963 2001
Jerry Rice 80 1985–2000 2010 [76]
Dwight Clark 87 1979–1987 1988
Kenny Easley 45 Seattle Seahawks 1981–1987 2017
Walter Jones 71 1997–2009 2010
Steve Largent[g] 80 1976–1989 1992 [78]
Cortez Kennedy 96 1990–2000 2012 [79][80]
Fans (12th man) 12 1984
Derrick Brooks 55 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1995–2008 2014 [81]
Lee Roy Selmon 63 1976–1984 1986
Warren Sapp 99 1995–2003 2013 [82]
Warren Moon 1 Tennessee Titans 1984–1993 2006 [83][84]
Steve McNair 9 1995–2005 2019 [85]
Eddie George 27 1996–2003 2019 [85]
Earl Campbell 34 1978–1984 1987
Jim Norton 43 1960–1968
Mike Munchak 63 1982–1993 1996
Elvin Bethea 65 1968–1983 1983
Bruce Matthews 74 1983–2001 2002
Sonny Jurgensen 9 Washington Commanders 1964–1974 2022 [86]
Sean Taylor 21 2004–2007 2021 [87]
Sammy Baugh 33 1937–1952 [88]
Bobby Mitchell 49 1962–1968 2020 [88]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ No. 99 was re-issued to J. J. Watt after Goldberg's daughter gave her blessing for Watt to wear it on March 2, 2021. Watt wore No. 99 for the 2021 and 2022 seasons until his retirement.[10][11]
  2. ^ Davis was diagnosed with leukemia that same year,[17][18] and died shortly after at age 23 without ever playing in a professional game.[19]
  3. ^ No. 18 was re-issued for Peyton Manning after Tripucka gave his approval; it was used by Manning from the 2012 season until his retirement after the 2015 season.[24] Manning's name was added to the retired number's banner as an honorable mention.[25][26][27]
  4. ^ On August 30, 1963, he suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck in a preseason game against the Houston Oilers in during a kickoff return. He died 10 days later, on September 8, at the age of 23.[39] He was only on the team's active roster during preseason.[40][41]
  5. ^ Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Mix in 1969 was the first Charger to have his number retired (#74) after he announced he was quitting football.[44][45] However, he came out of retirement in 1971 to play for the Oakland Raiders.[46] Then-Chargers owner Gene Klein, who hated the Raiders, unretired Mix's #74.[47]
  6. ^ During his tenure with the 49ers from 2006 to 2007, quarterback Trent Dilfer, a long-time friend of Brodie, wore No. 12 with his permission, unofficially unretiring the number as a tribute.[74]
  7. ^ Jerry Rice wore No. 80 for his 2004 stint with the Seahawks. According to Rice, the team offered him the jersey number, with Largent's permission.[77]

References

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  6. ^ "Bills to retire Hall of Famer Smith's No. 78 jersey". ESPN.com. May 11, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  7. ^ "The 00 Fad: It's Much Ado About Nothing". The Chicago Tribune. May 27, 1990.
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  37. ^ a b c d e f g Played for the Colts while the franchise was at Baltimore.
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  39. ^ "Stone Johnson dies of broken neck". The Baltimore Afro-American. September 14, 1963. p. 23. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
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  42. ^ Johnson died from injuries sustained in the 1963 preseason, his rookie campaign. Stone Johnson died 50 years ago from injury in NFL game
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