Jalen Ramsey, Michael Jordan, Paulo Futre and number issues in sport

1036 views

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey has ended the wait for news of his squad number – he has taken 20 but missed out on his preferred 23.

The cornerback was selected with the fifth overall pick of this year’s draft and was eager to secure his preferred jersey number of 23 – so eager that he was considering spending some of his $15m signing bonus to do so.

The only hitch is that the number already belongs to safety James Sample. Ramsey has reportedly offered in excess of $300,000 for the digits, but Sample refuses to sell.

This attachment to squad numbers isn’t a new phenomenon, particularly stateside. Sky Sports takes a look at some of the more ridiculous number demands and deals conducted over the years.

Deion Sanders – No 21

In 1995, the Dallas Cowboys won the ‘Deion Sweepstakes’, landing free-agent Sanders and making him the highest-paid defensive NFL player at the time.

Deion Sanders got his way and his No 21 jersey for Dallas
Deion Sanders got his way and his No 21 jersey for Dallas
Sanders wanted to wear No 21, having won a Super Bowl ring with the 49ers in it the year before. One morning Alundis Brice, the owner of the number at the time, arrived at training to find keys to a BMW 325i in his locker, alongside a note which read, ‘Now give me my damn jersey!’.

Brice readily accepted the trade, and Sanders played an important role in the Cowboys’ 1995 Super Bowl win.

Paulo Futre – No 10

Paulo Futre wore No 10 for Benfica and eventually for West Ham
Paulo Futre wore No 10 for Benfica and eventually for West Ham
In 1995, West Ham signed Portuguese winger Paulo Futre to a one-year deal. The European Cup winner arrived with plenty of pedigree, but was furious to discover he had been assigned the No 16 shirt, instead of his traditional and favoured 10 that he had worn for club and country.

Manager Harry Redknapp tried to abate his new star, but Futre ended up calling in lawyers to resolve the situation. He was even willing to refund customers who had bought ‘Moncur 10’ shirts, up to £100,000. In the end, John Moncur settled for a two-week holiday in Portugal and it took minutes to confirm the update with the FA.

Michael Jordan – No 45

Michael Jordan’s No 23 is iconic
Michael Jordan’s No 23 is iconic
Michael Jordan is synonymous with 23. The former Chicago Bulls shooting guard won six NBA titles between 1991-1998 wearing the iconic digits. Jordan was one of sport’s first megastars and 23 became the fashion, players choosing to pay homage to his ability, including David Beckham when he joined Real Madrid in 2003.

But 23 wasn’t Jordan’s first choice. In high school, his preferred number was 45. His older brother Larry was already playing for the varsity team with that number, and so Jordan simply halved it and rounded up.

David Beckham cited Jordan as his inspiration
David Beckham cited Jordan as his inspiration
After three consecutive titles in Chicago, Jordan chose to pursue his dream of a professional baseball career, and retired from the NBA. The Bulls retired his jersey, and so when he came out of retirement in 1995, Jordan reverted to his preferred high school number.

However, on the 23rd game into his comeback, Jordan switched back to 23. Despite fines totalling over $100,000 from the NBA, Jordan donned 23 for the remaining play-off games against the Orlando Magic, and then made the change official for the start of the 1996 season.

An expensive decision, but another ‘three-peat’ followed, so maybe it was all worth it.

Yep, that’s Jordan, in No 45, for the Bulls
Yep, that’s Jordan, in No 45, for the Bulls
AJ Burnett – No 34

In 2012, AJ Burnett was transferred to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The pitcher, who won the World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009, requested the No 34 on arrival. Already designated to Daniel McCutchen, Burnett agreed to pay into a college fund for his unborn daughter.

AJ Burnett forked out for the No 34 jersey at Pittsburgh
AJ Burnett forked out for the No 34 jersey at Pittsburgh
We won’t find out for another 14 years or so what the No 34 was worth, but it’s an inventive way of acquiring your lucky number.

Ivan Zamorano – No 1+8

In 1998, Inter Milan’s potent strike force meant that there weren’t enough numbers to go around. During a sponsorship-induced switch around, new signing Roberto Baggio was offered the No 10 shirt, vacated by Ronaldo who took the traditional No 9. Previous incumbent Ivan Zamorano, still at the club, took exception to this.

His response was to don the No 18, adding a ‘+’ sign between the digits. However this silent protest, of sorts, failed to register any real effect and rather than getting his own way, Zamorano became known as ‘Ivan the Terrible’.

Even Ivan Zamorano’s tribute shirt carried the plus sign!
Even Ivan Zamorano’s tribute shirt carried the plus sign!
But perhaps Zamorano’s message did get through to some. Mario Balotelli, whilst also plying his trade at Inter, chose 45 because the numbers added up to nine. He scored four in his first four games for Inter, and settled on the number and decided that it ‘brought him luck’.

Superstition can be big business. It remains to be seen whether Ramsey can strike a deal with Sample, or else get comfortable in No 20.

Author Bio

Alonesports

No Description or Default Description Here