Choosing numbers
Page 2 staff

We asked some ESPN analysts about the numbers they wore ...

Joe Theismann (No. 7)
I wore No. 10 at South River (N.J.) High School. While I didn't choose it, I liked it, and I wanted to wear No. 10 in college. But when I played at Notre Dame, quarterbacks weren't allowed to have double-digit uniform numbers -- that was true for decades for Irish QBs. So I ended up with No. 7. When I got to the pros, I figured the number served me well in college, so I stuck with it (both in the CFL and in the NFL with the Redskins).

Page 2's Got Your Number
  • Who's the ultimate No. 32? Who's the ultimate No. 7? Page 2 has the Ultimate Scorecard, with the best at each uniform number, from 00 to 99.

  • What is the ultimate uniform number? Jim Caple argues that it's No. 24.

  • The uniform number gets retired, but Eric Neel says it means much more than a player's identity.

  • Uniform numbers almanac: Worst retired numbers and more.
  • Sean Salisbury (No. 12)
    No. 12 was my main number at Orange Glen High School (Escondido, Calif.), because Joe Namath wore No. 12. I also wore No. 12 in the CFL and with the Vikings. Growing up, I was a huge Namath fan. I read everything I could about him. One of the thrills of my career was meeting him while I was still playing. But when I was at USC, I couldn't take 12 because the Trojans had retired it to honor Charles White. So I chose No. 7 at USC because of John Elway, who wore 7 at Stanford. He was a couple of years ahead of me, and I respected him. For my last year in the NFL (with San Diego), No. 12 was already taken, so I wore No. 8. I figured that Troy Aikman and Steve Young won Super Bowls wearing 8, so maybe it would rub off and help the Chargers win the big one (it was a nice theory, anyway).

    Joe Morgan (No. 8)
    I was No. 18 for the first part of my career with the Astros. But when I went to Cincinnati, 18 was hitting coach Ted Kluszewski's number. So I chose No. 8 because of Willie Stargell. He was one of my heroes when I was young. We both grew up in the Oakland area, and he was the first of my close friends to make it to the major leagues. I can't recall exactly how I ended up with No. 18 -- it was probably just assigned to me by Houston. But after I chose No. 8 with the Reds, I finished my career with it.

    Harold Reynolds (No. 4)
    The Reynolds' family number was 22 because that's what my oldest brother wore, and so on and so on. So growing up and in high school we were all No. 22. But in my pro career, I went out on my own. I chose the No. 4 because of Paul Molitor. When I was in A ball, it was a strike year and we watched the Milwaukee Brewers on TV every day. When they went on strike, we played a game at County Stadium. Molitor, Robin Yount and Jim Gantner were at the game. I always liked Molitor. Most of our numbers were assigned -- until you were established, you weren't picking your own number. I was No. 61, 37, whatever! It wasn't until about my third year in the big leagues that I got to choose my own number.

    Fred Carter (No. 3)
    I wore No. 33 most of my college career at Mount St. Mary's, but 33 wasn't available when I went to the NBA. I had No. 14 my freshman year in college, but that number had belonged to someone else and I believe the school retired it, so I wore 33 the rest of my time in college. When I was drafted by the Bullets (now the Wizards), 33 was already taken, so I just took half of it, so to speak -- I took one of the 3s. I stayed with No. 3 throughout my NBA career.

    Darren Pang (No. 40)
    When I played, 40 was an unusual number for a goalie. Now it's become more popular -- there must be seven or eight goalies who wear No. 40 today. I wore No. 40 because I grew up idolizing Rogie Vachon. When he was a star for the Los Angeles Kings, he wore No. 30. But when he was traded to Detroit, he took No. 40. Since he was my hero growing up, when I got to the Blackhawks I decided to wear No. 40. And I kept that number for my entire career.

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