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Sunday, May 22, 2011
Revisiting retired number challenge

By Mike Reiss

A tweet from Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer rekindled thoughts of the challenge that has been percolating in recent years for the Patriots -- how to deal with retired numbers.

Reedy tweets a comment from Bengals great Ken Anderson on rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, the team's second-round pick, wearing his No. 14.

"I think it’s great," Anderson said, according to Reedy. "It’s been a long time since I’ve played and that was his college number. I know how special that is when you get your shot in the NFL to wear a number that’s familiar to you."

The Bengals hadn't retired No. 14, but had only issued it once since Anderson retired in 1986 -- to Maurice Purify for five games in 2009 (according to Reedy). Here in New England, the possibility of retiring numbers for recent franchise greats -- and the total of numbers of already retired -- has created a challenge.

One example this year comes with first-round draft pick Nate Solder. He was No. 78 at Colorado, but that number is off limits in New England, last worn by Patriots Hall of Famer Bruce Armstrong.

Last year, Tedy Bruschi offered his unique take on how he'd feel about someone wearing his No. 54.

"I wouldn't mind seeing another linebacker wear 54, and see him perform well," Bruschi said. "I know there are a lot of Patriot numbers that are retired, but I think it would be nice to see all the numbers unretired. In football, you have a lot of players and there aren't a lot of numbers to use, so I think unretiring the numbers and adding some nostalgia to the stadium with a Ring of Honor -- with names and numbers and years they played -- would be something great."

Today's question: When it comes to retiring numbers, and how to handle numbers that are already retired, how would you approach the situation if you were making decisions for the Patriots?