I’ll never forget the day my 8U baseball coach looked at me and said, “The one thing I need you to think about today, and this is very important, is what number you are going to wear for us this season.”
At eight years old this decision is more important than the kid (I think she was of the female gender) I just asked to be my girlfriend at recess, four hours ago. Was she blonde with brown eyes? Or did she have brown hair with blue eyes? If I even remember her name at this phase of the relationship I am doing well. In reflection, I may not know who I was dating when I was eight years old, but I know what number I was and why I chose that number.
There is a complex calculation that comes into picking one’s number for any sport. My favorite baseball player at the time was Scott Podsednik. He was from a small Texas farming town where my mom grew up, and they happen to make amazing kolaches (yes, the Czech Stop). He wore double two.
My cousin, the goalie for his high school hockey team, was tied for my favorite athlete at the time. He wore double three. I just wanted a piece of them to be a piece of me. I took one of their numbers and came up with two-three or three-two. Oh, did I mention I have always been the loud mouth? Yea, if you talk like I do, you wear two-three, no questions asked.
There is nothing fun about graduating from college and getting a job other than getting paid. When you get paid there are certain guidelines and regulations that your new employer has set forth for the company as a whole, and for you individually. This is not college ball anymore; this is a business.
Pat McAfee, on his daily sports show, frequently discusses how these rookies do not comprehend the business side of ball until they are up for a contract negotiation. Cowboy fans are not new to this as the recent dilemma with our QB1 received the franchise tag, compared to getting paid (like the world knows he should).
You sign your first-round draft pick, but tell him what number he has to wear. If this was a random assignment that added no value to the team or had no historical context, would I see a cause for media outcry? Absolutely.
Instead, we see the polar opposite from retiring a number in respect of a Hall of Fame career. We are telling the young buck to wear the number that the greats before him wore, and that played the same position he plays. If you forced Derek Rose to wear number two-three when he arrived in Chicago, they have at least two more banners hanging in that arena, no doubt.
My dad has told me stories about the triple threat in Dallas featuring Aikman, Smith, and Irvin. I sat on the couch, while dad sat in the recliner watching Romo, a slew of running backs, and Bryant take the field. It was fun. It was memorable. I can only dream about telling my kids about the dominance, Prescott, Elliot, and Lamb shared on the gridiron (I know Cooper will be around for some time but for story intensive purposes we are utilizing Lamb because he’s taking Irvin’s number). I hope the peak for this youthful trio is higher than the hall of fame trio dad used to tell me about.
CeeDee, my buddies that went to school in Norman couldn’t stop talking about you in your last two years of college ball. I can’t wait for you to be on my NFL team, and allow me to rave to the Cowboy haters out there what a baller you are. It sucks Jerry Jones told you what jersey number to wear. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad move though, it’s a business move. The only moves Mr. Jones knows how to make. I think he will make you into a similar player my dad grew up watching wearing the double eight. I think you got big shoes to fill, but know your feet are only growing. Stoked to watch you play this year, ROY.