On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the official jersey numbers for their 2022 NFL Draft class. In case you missed it, here is the official tweet from the Steelers verified Twitter account with the new players’ numbers.
DRAFT PICK JERSEY NUMBERS ARE HERE pic.twitter.com/T5UlwHqa5d— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2022
Shortly after the numbers were released you saw a plethora of thoughts and feelings about the number selections on social media. All of these thoughts and opinions got me thinking about jersey numbers in general. Some just brush off jersey digits, but others take them more serious.
So, what’s in a jersey number? I decided to take a look at the rookie class, their new jersey numbers and the immediate thoughts which went through my head when I saw their decisions.
Before getting to this exercise, it should be noted rookie players can change their number if/when they make the team if a number they’d rather have opens up. Therefore, keep that in mind as many were not too happy with several jersey numbers.
Jersey No. 8
This was a no-brainer for the newest Steelers quarterback. Pickett wore No. 8 his entire 5-year tenure with Pitt, and the number was vacated by both Melvin Ingram III and Karl Joseph before he was re-signed this offseason. However, when I see No. 8 the only thing I can see is Tommy Maddox’s old number. Many lament Maddox’s time as the Steelers quarterback, but I look back on those days from my days in college watching games which were both frustrating and electrifying at the same time. Let’s just hope Pickett can pan out better than Maddox did.
Jersey No. 14
Pickens wore the No. 1 in college, and it didn’t seem like that would be a choice for the second round pick. The Steelers haven’t had a player wear No. 1 since Gary Anderson wore the single digit in the 80s. Going with No. 14 harkens some bad memories of failed wide receivers. Whether you go back to Limas Sweed out of Texas, or Sammie Coates out of Auburn. The No. 14 hasn’t always been the best for pass catchers. Most recently worn by Ray-Ray McCloud, hopefully Pickens can pave a new way with the new number, if he decides to stick with it.
Jersey No. 98
The Texas A&M defensive lineman chose a number which is well-known in the Steelers fan base. The most notable player in recent memory to wear No. 98 has been inside linebacker Vince Williams. After Williams’ sudden retirement before training camp in 2021, he requested just one thing for the next player to wear No. 98...that he “be a dog”.
The next 98 better be a dog! That’s all I ask.— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) July 25, 2021
The next player to wear No. 98 was Taco Charlton in 2021, but Leal might be the long-term holder of Williams’ old number. Will he be “a dog” as Williams requested? Only time will tell if the number fits the former player’s demands.
Calvin Austin III
Jersey No. 19
Considering I’m as dense as a brick sometimes, I finally got why so many of my “Let’s Ride” podcast listeners wanted Austin to wear the jersey No. 16. Austin III (3) wearing No. 16. Austin 3:16. Get it? Well, I didn’t for a while, but No. 16 is currently occupied by backup punter Cameron Nizialek. Instead, Austin chose No. 19, which every fan will know was recently occupied by JuJu Smith-Schuster. Will he make fans forget all about Smith-Schuster? Those are big shoes to fill, despite how Smith-Schuster left the team.
Jersey No. 83
Of all the numbers which were given out, the fans had the biggest problem with Heath Miller’s old number being handed out. The Steelers have long had unofficial retired numbers within the organization. Only two numbers are officially retired, Ernie Stautner’s No. 70 and “Mean” Joe Greene’s No. 75. However, numbers like No. 43 for Troy Polamalu aren’t put in circulation for obvious reasons. Millers’ number has been used since his retirement, and most recently was donned by Cobi Hamilton. Heyward will be the first tight end to wear the number, if you call him a genuine tight end. Needless to say, fans aren’t happy seeing Heath’s digits hitting the field on another tight end.
Jersey No. 93
The Ole Miss linebacker chose a classic linebacker number when he selected No. 93. When I think of No. 93 in recent memory the first player which comes to mind is Jason Worilds. I know there have been players to wear No. 93 since Worilds played, but that’s the player I think of when I see the number. The most recent player to wear this number was Joe Schobert in 2021. Even with only one year under his belt at linebacker, there is hope he helps fans forget all about the brief Schobert era in Pittsburgh.
Jersey No. 5
Here at BTSC the Steelers Draft Fix crew of Andrew Wilbar and Jeremy Betz got the chance to interview Oladokun (you can hear the interview in the player below) and I couldn’t help but listen to the interview and think to myself, “This guy sounds a lot like Joshua Dobbs.” It seems fitting Oladokun will take over wearing Dobbs’ old number when he tries to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster this year at training camp.
What do you think about these new numbers? Do you care? Are there any players who are going to have to get some good karma going with their new number? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to remember these numbers, outside of Pickett, can change if they make the team.