Wednesday, November 6, 2013
QOTW: Why do you wear your number?
By Michael Rothstein
Question of the Week is a new feature where we ask different Lions the same question on various topics -- some funny, some issue-based, some football-related and some completely off the wall. To suggest a potential question for QOTW, email email@example.com or make the suggestion on Twitter @mikerothstein
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Numbers with athletes have always been a point of contention. In the pros, guys will pay money just to wear a certain number. In colleges, it can be part of a recruiting pitch.
For others, it means nothing.
Some Lions players have an emotional attachment to their jersey numbers. Others just took what was available, and some haven't gotten used to new digits.
For the Question of the Week, we asked different Detroit Lions why they wear the numbers they wear.
LG Rob Sims (No. 67): Well, no. I was kind of wearing 77 and that was kind of a thing for my pops, who wore 79, 78 and that was like my only number. When he passed away, I decided to go, I knew I needed to change and just went a different route.
Reporter: So you changed it when your dad passed?
Sims: Yeah, when my dad passed and I got in the league, I changed my number. I just knew I needed a fresh start and I needed to not hang on to that kind of stuff and all that. I never told nobody that because it was something like, 'Hey, I'm changing it up.' It was nothing like emotional about it or anything like that.
Reporter: Was it emotions, though?
Sims: When my dad passed, very. But I think it was me being like, OK, on my own. Change stuff up. That's kind of why I did it. Guys do it for different reasons.
QB Matthew Stafford (No. 9): They didn't have 7. [John] Elway was kind of the guy I liked watching growing up and I wore 7 when I was young and I was in high school and then I wore it in college. Tried to wear it here, but they don't have it. You can't wear 7 here, it's Dutch Clark.
RG Larry Warford (No. 75): They gave it to me. I didn't get to choose it, they were like, here, here's 75.
Reporter: What about college?
Warford: I was 67 since my freshman year of high school. I was 67 all the way through college and all the way through high school and then I got here and 67 was [taken] and [in a sad voice] 'I have to change, I don't know who I am anymore.'
Reporter: Some guys are really particular.
Warford: It's part of your identity. You feel like you own it, like that's who I am, I'm 67. I'm 75 now, but when it gets taken away from you, it's like 'This doesn't feel like me.' It takes some time, but it's cool. It's cool to start over new. 75, going to make it my own now.
Reporter: Why 67?
Warford: It was given to me when I was young and I was like, my freshman year, they had it and I'll make this my own and I felt comfortable with it and I just wanted to keep it through my whole career.
Reporter: Reggie (Bush) said sometimes he still signs 22 because he's not used to 21. Was that an issue?
Warford: Yeah, I did that a couple times. I signed something, it'd be a Lions thing and I'd be like Larry Warford, Sixty-sev..., oh, here you go. It's just habit. Like, oh, 6-7. I broke into the 7-5 now, 6-7 doesn't come up anymore. It's cool, though.
WR Kris Durham (No. 18): It's what they gave me. I wore 16 in college and wore it in college but Titus was here when I got here so they gave me 18, which was great. If I had to pick a number in the NFL, I'd pick 16 because it was what I wore in college.
Reporter: Why 16?
Durham: It's what they gave me in college. It kind of grew on me. But I like 18 a lot, I like 17, 18 or 19. My birthday's the 17th. I've always liked even numbers but my cousin wore 19 in high school so I would wear 19.
RB Reggie Bush (No. 21): That was the next best number that was available. I was going to try and stick with 22 but that's obviously retired and Mikel [Leshoure] had 25. They told me 21 is available and I've always loved 21. Deion Sanders has worn it, a lot of great players have worn 21.
WR Kevin Ogletree (No. 11): That was my basketball number. I haven't worn a low number like that since my freshman year in high school. I wore it in freshman year of football. You know, when you get to pick your number and there's not that many and you've got a couple that look cool and 11 was the coolest to me. Those 1's, right. It's definitely different because I'm used to 85. I was born August 5th so that kind of worked out.
TE Joseph Fauria (No. 80): Nah, I was single dig at UCLA. I had two choices and 80 would be nice, a good tight end number and kind of reminiscent of college, just add a zero. And I think it's fun to say 'Ocho-Zero,' it's funny. That's it. Spanglish. Eighty-one was my grandfather's number, but it's kind of taken by somebody important.
Mosley: It's like the end of the line. 1 through 99, 99 is the last guy so it's the end of the line. My mentality is whatever it is, it's going to stop at 99. That's kind of with it. But Warren Sapp, that's my guy.