The NFL’s oldest active player isn’t a fan of the league’s revamped jersey numbering system.
NFL owners this week approved a proposal that will relax the long-standing rules governing which numbers players can wear based on their position. Under the new guidelines, running backs, receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs all can sport any number from 1 to 49, in addition to their previously available digits.
Defenders and skill-position players around the league have celebrated the change. Not Tom Brady, though.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback believes the incoming wave of uniform number changes actually will have a negative impact on the on-field product.
“Good luck trying to block the right people now!!!!” the 43-year-old Brady wrote Thursday on Instagram. “Going to make for a lot of bad football.”
Brady doubled down a short while later, writing “DUMB” in all-caps in a related Instagram story while tagging the NFL and NFLPA accounts.
“Why not let the linemen wear whatever they want too?” Brady asked. “Why have numbers? Just have colored jerseys…why not wear the same number?…DUMB.”
(The rules for linemen on both sides of the ball aren’t changing. O-linemen still are limited to Nos. 50 through 79; D-linemen can wear 50 through 79 and 90 through 99.)
What does Brady mean by that? He’s saying allowing linebackers, edge rushers, cornerbacks and safeties all to wear similar numbers will make it more difficult for quarterbacks and offensive linemen to tell who’s playing which position, which will lead to confusion in blocking schemes and rushers coming free.
As a QB who would prefer to avoid being pummeled by onrushing defenders, Brady’s consternation is understandable. College football players always have been allowed to wear whichever numbers they choose, but it’s been more than two decades since Brady had to worry about differentiating between a linebacker wearing No. 15 and a safety in No. 17.
The former New England Patriots star will need to adapt, though. The NFL’s new numbering system goes into effect this season.