When the NFL changed its uni-numbering rules in 2021, then-Bucs quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t happy about it. As he said at the time:
“The number rule is crazy. … You’ve got to watch film and know who you’re studying but so do running backs. They’ve got to know who to block. So does the offensive line. So do the receivers who are adjusting their routes based on blitzes.
“So one guys has got a 6, one guy has 11, one guy has got a 9. And they change every play when you break your routes and get to your spot. It’s going to be a very challenging thing. It’s a good advantage for the defense, which that’s what it is.”
It turns out that another star quarterback has similar thoughts. On Monday night, KC signal-caller Patrick Mahomes said:
“It’s even crazier now because everybody can wear the single digits. 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.”
A few thoughts here:
- Almost every rule change in recent years has been to favor the offense. So if the new numbering rules really do help out the defense, as Brady and Mahomes claim, I’d say that’s a long-overdue corrective.
- The NFL’s new numbering rules are similar to the ones used in the NCAA, so it’s not as though Mahomes has never dealt with something like this before.
- It’s interesting that the only two quarterbacks who’ve complained about the rule, at least that I’m aware of, are Brady (the greatest QB of the last generation) and Mahomes (arguably the greatest QB of the current generation). I wonder if these near-superhuman players have a harder time being “brought down to earth” by a uni-numbering situation than a mere mortal QB.
Finally, do you remember why the NFL revised its numbering rules in the first place? Because Mahomes’s own team pushed for the change. I guess they didn’t consult him.