In most cases, jersey numbers aren't all that meaningful. But when the Dallas Cowboys hand you the No. 88, owner Jerry Jones is putting a lot of weight on your shoulders.
The Cowboys made a trade with the Patriots on Thursday night to land the 24th overall pick in the NFL draft. Jones then used the pick to draft Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, whose character issues led the speedster to slide down most teams' boards.
Bryant will join a talented corps of wideouts that includes Miles Austin and Roy Williams. Along with tight end Jason Witten and running backs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, the trio will give quarterback Tony Romo a plethora of excellent targets.
But as his new jersey number indicates, Jones expects Bryant to have the kind of impact that Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson did in Dallas years ago.
Although Irvin also had his share of character problems, he was nicknamed "The Playmaker" and thoroughly deserved his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2007. Irvin teamed up with quarterback Troy Aikman to lead the Cowboys to Super Bowl titles in 1992, 1993 and 1995 — amassing over 1,300 yards in each of those seasons.
Pearson was a three-time Pro Bowler for the Cowboys during his career, which spanned from 1973 to 1983 and was spent entirely in Dallas. The Cowboys appeared in three Super Bowls with Roger Staubach under center and Pearson hauling in his throws, winning it all in 1978.
Jones apparently sees a similar connection blossoming between Bryant and signal-caller Tony Romo.
"I guess in [owner] Jerry [Jones]' eyes, it says a lot about him — that he can handle the pressure of wearing the double-8s," Pearson told ESPN.com. "Most of the time, you say, what's in a number? In this case, there's a lot of history and production. For Jerry to anoint him with that number, it indicates that Jerry sees a lot of potential."
Bryant is thrilled to have landed in Dallas, and promised fans that his history of being tardy and lacking focus at practices and meetings is behind him.
"Me falling to the Cowboys, that's the best thing that could ever happen to me," Bryant said after he was picked. "I'm so happy. I'm excited. I'm ready to go to work."