Patriots Numbers to Retire

Lose Remerswaal

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Football teams have more players on the active roster then the other 3 leagues combined (don't do the math, as it's actually not correct, but it's close), and yet they retire the fewest numbers. Probably due to those large rosters that require so many more numbers to be used!

So far the Pats have the following numbers retired:


The following Patriots numbers are retired: 20 (Gino Cappelletti), 40 (Mike Haynes), 57 (Steve Nelson), 73 (John Hannah), 78 (Bruce Armstrong), 79 (Jim Lee Hunt) and 89 (Bob Dee).
(source)

Not a single Super Bowl winner among them. Heck, only Hannah, Armstrong and Nelson even played in a Super Bowl for the Pats!

That's 7 numbers. The Sox have 12 numbers retired (to be fair, the Sox have had uni numbers for nearly 100 years, the Pats have only had them for about 60). Bruins have 11 retired numbers. Celtics have 22 (and a nickname).

12 is going to be retired. Any others?

The two that come to mind to me are 4 (Vinitieri -- easier to retire single digits as they are rarely used, of course they've given it to Stidham) and 87 (Gronk, assuming he retires). I guess if 4 can be retired, maybe 3 could, too?
 
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Spacemans Bong

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Andre Tippett's number needs to be retired if the Pats are gonna retire numbers again. Which they should. They're obviously going to retire 12, so saying "We're done with retiring numbers" strikes me as weak tea and kind of insulting to the history of the franchise. Especially when Bruce Armstrong's got retired in 2000, so it's not like Kraft hasn't retired a number. Standards will need to be upped, I can see not retiring Troy Brown's number because he isn't in Canton even though he's a Patriots legend, but you let things play out and you'll end up retiring enough numbers from the Belichick Era (plus Tippett) without becoming the Celtics.
 

lexrageorge

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NFL teams do not like to retire numbers because they need the flexibility to be able to reissue numbers. The league has rules regarding the numbers certain position players can wear. There truly are not enough numbers to go around.

The Patriots now have their Hall of Fame museum to memorialize their best players, so I expect few if any future numbers to be retired. For example, a modern day Steve Nelson or Bruce Armstrong would not see their numbers retired. Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, and Matt Light are the closest comparables; they are in the Pats HoF, and I'm content with leaving it at that. I expect Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour will be inducted into the Pats Hall of Fame soon enough.

The only exception to the above will be #12 for reasons that honestly do not require debate.
 

Curt S Loew

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The following Patriots numbers are retired: 20 (Gino Cappelletti), 40 (Mike Haynes), 57 (Steve Nelson), 73 (John Hannah), 78 (Bruce Armstrong), 79 (Jim Lee Hunt) and 89 (Bob Dee).
Not a single Super Bowl winner among them. Heck, only Armstrong and Nelson even played in a Super Bowl for the Pats!

Pretty sure Hog Hannah was in Super Bowl XX. Although, he wishes he wasn't.
 

Spacemans Bong

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NFL teams do not like to retire numbers because they need the flexibility to be able to reissue numbers. The league has rules regarding the numbers certain position players can wear.

The Patriots now have their Hall of Fame museum to memorialize their best players, so I expect few if any future numbers to be retired. For example, a modern day Steve Nelson or Bruce Armstrong would not see their numbers retired. Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, and Matt Light are the closest comparables,, and I'm content with leaving it at that.

The only exception to the above will be #12 for reasons that honestly do not require debate.
Sorry but this is bullshit. SOME NFL teams do not like to retire numbers. The Bears, Chiefs, Rams, Giants, Eagles, Colts, 49ers and Titans all have a ton of retired numbers.

The Bears have 14, the 49ers 12, and the Niners are absolutely putting Frank Gore and Patrick Willis up there when they're inevitably called to Canton. The Bears haven't retired Urlacher's (or Mike Singletary's) number yet, but I'd guess that's coming too.
 

InstaFace

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Candidates besides the obvious 3 HOFers you mention:

(years with the team / elsewhere, ## AV with the team)
- #70 Mankins (9/2, 114)
- #72 Light (11/0, 109)
- #75 Wilfork (11/2, 102)
- #93 Seymour (8/4, 85) - the ultimate inactive jersey
- #80 Troy Brown (15/0, 65)
- #54 Bruschi (13/0, 88)
- #55 McGinest (12/3, 87)

I'd say Welker, Edelman, Vrabel and even Ty Law probably aren't in range, but deserve to have their names mentioned.
 

lexrageorge

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Sorry but this is bullshit. SOME NFL teams do not like to retired numbers. The Bears, Chiefs, Rams, Giants, Eagles, Colts, 49ers and Titans all have a ton of retired numbers.
You may not agree, but the reason is valid, not "bullshit". And it's unclear why they need to retire numbers given that the team has a MUSEUM dedicated to former greats.

Candidates besides the obvious 3 HOFers you mention:

(years with the team / elsewhere, ## AV with the team)
- #70 Mankins (9/2, 114)
- #72 Light (11/0, 109)
- #75 Wilfork (11/2, 102)
- #93 Seymour (8/4, 85) - the ultimate inactive jersey
- #80 Troy Brown (15/0, 65)
- #54 Bruschi (13/0, 88)
- #55 McGinest (12/3, 87)

I'd say Welker, Edelman, Vrabel and even Ty Law probably aren't in range, but deserve to have their names mentioned.
Ty Law is the only player in the list that is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so it's interesting you said he's not in range.

All of these players should, and likely will, get inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame (Light, Brown, Bruschi, McGinest, and Law already are, along with Kevin Faulk and Rodney Harrison).
 

InstaFace

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Ty Law played 10 years for us but 5 for another team. Then again, Seymour has the same ratio. I guess they're either both in range or neither in range, fair enough.

I'd argue most of my list will end up in the HOF, or should, so that puts them "in range" of having their number retired.
 

Spacemans Bong

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You may not agree, but the reason is valid, not "bullshit". And it's unclear why they need to retire numbers given that the team has a MUSEUM dedicated to former greats.


Ty Law is the only player in the list that is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so it's interesting you said he's not in range.

All of these players should, and likely will, get inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame (Light, Brown, Bruschi, McGinest, and Law already are, along with Kevin Faulk and Rodney Harrison).
It’s not a valid reason unless you want to get into some philosophical argument about having retired numbers in the first place, in which case don’t retire 12. The NFL teams I mentioned are not suffering from retired numberitis in training camp, with stressed out equipment managers unable to find a number. That’s nonsense.

The reason, as far as I can tell, is some football machismo that it’s about the team. That is meaningless.

As for a museum, who cares? The Montréal Canadiens have a museum, that didn’t stop them from retiring a bunch of numbers.
 

lexrageorge

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It’s not a valid reason unless you want to get into some philosophical argument about having retired numbers in the first place, in which case don’t retire 12. The NFL teams I mentioned are not suffering from retired numberitis in training camp, with stressed out equipment managers unable to find a number. That’s nonsense.

The reason, as far as I can tell, is some football machismo that it’s about the team. That is meaningless.

As for a museum, who cares? The Montréal Canadiens have a museum, that didn’t stop them from retiring a bunch of numbers.
I already made it clear that whatever rule a team chooses with respect to retired numbers would not have to apply to #12.
 

Super Nomario

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I kind of think it's cool to have numbers like 54 and 24 and 50 and 87 that mean something across "generations" of Patriots players. Not that they've been consistent; it doesn't really fit to have Ted Karras wearing Wilfork's #75, or fine-players-but-kinda-one-dimensional dudes like John Simon and Lawrence Guy rocking 55 and 93, respectively.
 

E5 Yaz

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I kind of think it's cool to have numbers like 54 and 24 and 50 and 87 that mean something across "generations" of Patriots players. Not that they've been consistent; it doesn't really fit to have Ted Karras wearing Wilfork's #75, or fine-players-but-kinda-one-dimensional dudes like John Simon and Lawrence Guy rocking 55 and 93, respectively.
I agree ... although pity the poor QB who would be given 12 down the road
 

BaseballJones

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Just interesting...

12 - Brady
11 - Bledsoe & Edelman
50 - Vrabel & Ninkovich
24 - Law & Revis & McCourty (and Robert Weathers!)
87 - Coates & Gronkowski
28 - Dillon & Martin
32 - DMac & Andy Johnson
54 - Bruschi & Hightower
55 - McGinest & Don Blackmon
85 - Buoniconti & Julius Adams

So which number has the highest top end value for the Pats?

Obviously Brady, even alone, is at the top. But among the other numbers??
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I think if you let the former retired players set the standard then you probably have a solid five or six at least that have to get in. Mike Haynes was fantastic, but he only played 90 games as a Patriot and it's a bit hard to have him there if you don't include, say, Bruschi. I guess because he was an excellent punt returner? Although, I just looked up Bruschi's numbers and was surprised that he only was selected to one pro bowl which is an under/over bet I would have lost.

I think with the Patriots Hall of Fame it's not necessary to let Haynes be the threshold and if you want to retire numbers you can do it only for the truly special. I'm not sure when Haynes got it, but I'm guessing it was at a time where there were relatively fewer great Patriots to pick between.

If John Hannah is the standard I'm not sure anyone other than Brady is eligible. Maybe Gronk. Gronk is a really hard case to me.
 

lexrageorge

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Honorable mention to the above list for AV by @BaseballJones :

39: Sam Cunningham, Laurence Maroney, Brandon Browner, and Danny Woodhead
80: Troy Brown, Irving Fryar, and Danny Amendola and Don Hasselback
81: Russ Francis, Aaron Hernandez, and Randy Moss
83: Wes Welker & Deion Branch
86: Stanley Morgan

And 85 was once worn by Sean Morey :).
 

Over Guapo Grande

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Just interesting...

12 - Brady
11 - Bledsoe & Edelman
50 - Vrabel & Ninkovich
24 - Law & Revis & McCourty (and Robert Weathers!)
87 - Coates & Gronkowski
28 - Dillon & Martin
32 - DMac & Andy Johnson
54 - Bruschi & Hightower
55 - McGinest & Don Blackmon
85 - Buoniconti & Julius Adams

So which number has the highest top end value for the Pats?

Obviously Brady, even alone, is at the top. But among the other numbers??
24 would be Gilmore, of course, not McCourty.
 

Saints Rest

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Just interesting...

12 - Brady
11 - Bledsoe & Edelman
50 - Vrabel & Ninkovich
24 - Law & Revis & McCourty (and Robert Weathers!)
87 - Coates & Gronkowski
28 - Dillon & Martin
32 - DMac & Andy Johnson
54 - Bruschi & Hightower
55 - McGinest & Don Blackmon
85 - Buoniconti & Julius Adams

So which number has the highest top end value for the Pats?

Obviously Brady, even alone, is at the top. But among the other numbers??
Didn't we have a thread a few years back with the best Patriot for each number? It would be interesting to see which of those might have changed in the intervening years.
 

Spacemans Bong

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If you think the Pats should retire numbers, then suggest some rather than continue to make posts that make everyone wonder "seriously, what the fuck?".
I did in the second post in this thread. Suggested a person (because I think Tippett got screwed), and then implied a standard: which is anybody in Canton who, if this was baseball, would have a Patriots helmet on their bust.

Brady is a mortal lock and nobody disputes he’ll get his number retired.

Law is already in. Gronk is a lock. Vinatieri is a lock. So that’s four. There will be others but it’s worth sitting back and seeing who will get in.

The 49er dynasty only has six Hall of Famers: Montana, Young, Rice, Lott, Dean (who played more games for San Diego) and Haley (who played as many games for the Cowboys). The latter aren’t getting their numbers retired, while Dwight Clark did and Roger Craig probably will if he gets into the Hall.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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The 49ers dynasty is a great comparison point, Bonger (and btw I take your meaning about your standard and what's reasonable).

The 49ers have retired 12 numbers in franchise history. That group includes 8 (QB Steve Young), 12 (QB John Brodie), 16 (QB Joe Montana), 34 (RB Joe Perry), 37 (DB Jimmy Johnson), 39 (Hugh McElhenny), 42 (DB Ronnie Lott), 70 (DT Charlie Krueger), 73 (OT Leo Nomellini), 79 (OT Bob St. Clair), 80 (WR Jerry Rice), 87 (WR Dwight Clark).
From the dynasty years, the retired numbers are (years with/without team, AV for team):
- #8 Young (13/2, 158)
- #16 Montana (13/2, 146)
- #80 Rice (16/5, 215, jesus christ he started 14 games at WR at age 42)
- #42 Lott (10/4, 126)
- #87 Clark (9/0, 72)

From that vantage point, you'd have to say Seymour or Law aren't DQ'd by their years with another team (though it might preclude Vinatieri), but the AV standard may be higher than I might have thought initially.

Recall our HOF locks:
- #12 Brady (20/0, 269)
- #4 Vinatieri (10/14, 33)
- #87 Gronkowski (9/0, 82)
- #24 Law (10/5, 83)

Clearly Gronk is our Dwight Clark, someone lacking the usual counting stats but who was so iconic, such a cornerstone of the dynasty, that you almost have to. Lott is their only retired defensive player and is in the top-40 Career AVs of all time, so is a different case than our dynasty's collection of "borderline HOF players who collectively were greater than the sum of their parts". Our top 3 non-Brady players by AV are all linemen (Mankins, Light and Seymour), which are underrepresented in Canton, but if one of them make it, perhaps they're a top candidate for retirement as well.
 

Ale Xander

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Not sure I understand the rationale for retiring Nelson but not Tippett, or maybe I just have a bad memory. Also Bob Dee and Jim Lee Hunt should have their numbers unretired. (half-serious).

12 is the lock of locks
87 is as close as you can get to locks.
24, 4, 56, and 54 should be retired.

I'd probably cut it there. Although 55, 32, and 11 (this one only because of both) are tugging at my heart strings.

But you cant really retire entire 54-57, so idk.
 
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Retire Brady’s #12 and, um...that’s it? Maybe #87. No way should they retire #4, imo. I love AV, but that seems like a stretch. NEP HOF, sure, definitely. But retire his number?
 

tims4wins

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Retire Brady’s #12 and, um...that’s it? Maybe #87. No way should they retire #4, imo. I love AV, but that seems like a stretch. NEP HOF, sure, definitely. But retire his number?
Agree on AV. He wasn't a historically great player like 12, or even 87.

AV is actually kind of the Eli Manning of kickers. Long career, never injured, tons of counting stats, a few signature moments, but rarely if ever top 5 for his position, borderline top 10.
 

TPIRman

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It’s not a valid reason unless you want to get into some philosophical argument about having retired numbers in the first place, in which case don’t retire 12. The NFL teams I mentioned are not suffering from retired numberitis in training camp, with stressed out equipment managers unable to find a number. That’s nonsense.

The reason, as far as I can tell, is some football machismo that it’s about the team. That is meaningless.

As for a museum, who cares? The Montréal Canadiens have a museum, that didn’t stop them from retiring a bunch of numbers.
Reiss has written a number of times about how NFL teams are reluctant to retire numbers for the reasons that lexrageorge outlined. Here's a representative note on the topic from 2016:

Mike Reiss said:
In football, with a 53-man roster during the year (plus a 10-man practice squad) and a 90-man roster in the offseason, there are only so many numbers that can be retired before the supply runs out. To account for this, the Patriots have created a set-up in establishing their Hall of Fame in which an induction can serve as an equal to a retired number. And then in an ultra-rare case, such as quarterback Tom Brady, we would see a player's number retired.
That doesn't forestall a fun conversation about retiring numbers, of course, but it is worth noting that according to a trusted beat reporter, the actual state of affairs re: retired numbers is pretty much exactly as lexrageorge described it, at least when it comes to the Patriots (even down to the special exception for #12).

https://www.espn.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4792901/jerod-mayos-51-sparks-topic-of-retiring-patriots-jersey-numbers
 

BornToRun

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I’m honestly shocked that Tippett hasn’t had his number retired. I feel like that really needs to happen.

Beyond that, I agree that the only 100% certifiable, bet your life on it lock is 12. Whoever takes over when Tom walks away needs to wear 13 though to keep the line moving.
 

BaseballJones

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I’m honestly shocked that Tippett hasn’t had his number retired. I feel like that really needs to happen.

Beyond that, I agree that the only 100% certifiable, bet your life on it lock is 12. Whoever takes over when Tom walks away needs to wear 13 though to keep the line moving.
I think there are only four guys in Pats' history that qualify as absolute no doubter must have their number retired:

12 Tom Brady. GOAT.
73 John Hannah. Best OG of all time by wide acclamation.
56 Andre Tippett. Best defensive player the Patriots have ever had. If he didn't play concurrently with Lawrence Taylor, he'd have been the best defensive player of his entire era. Totally overshadowed by LT.
87 Rob Gronkowski. Best TE of all time, one of the most unique players ever.

That's it.
 

ramfan

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Dumb question, Are the retired numbers displayed anywhere? I don't recall seeing them like you do the other 3 teams.

I think i'm more of a ring of honor guy, put the player's names up in a prominent area of the stadium.
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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I kind of think it's cool to have numbers like 54 and 24 and 50 and 87 that mean something across "generations" of Patriots players. Not that they've been consistent; it doesn't really fit to have Ted Karras wearing Wilfork's #75, or fine-players-but-kinda-one-dimensional dudes like John Simon and Lawrence Guy rocking 55 and 93, respectively.
This is exactly where I'm at. The average NFL career is 3.3 years. It doesn't make sense to be retiring numbers when churn suggests that you'll need them available. Moreover, I just don't associate NFL with continuity. Even though he was a tremendous player for several years, it's not the same seeing Gronk wear 87 once a week as it is to see Papi rock 34 for 162 games a year or Paul Pierce wear it for 82 games a year for over a decade.

In addition to the multi-generational legacies associated with some numbers, I got a kick out of the fact that Randy Moss couldn't have 84 in 2007 because it was Ben Watson's, or Antonio Brown couldn't have it this year because it was Ben Watson's.

Football numbers are more utilitarian than other sports. I think the coolest thing about them is the generational aspect you describe. Seeing Hightower make a play might cause me to think momentarily of Bruschi.

To that end, I'm fine with the Patriots re-issuing #12 someday. I doubt anyone would ask for it, though.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Mike Reiss said:


In football, with a 53-man roster during the year (plus a 10-man practice squad) and a 90-man roster in the offseason, there are only so many numbers that can be retired before the supply runs out. To account for this, the Patriots have created a set-up in establishing their Hall of Fame in which an induction can serve as an equal to a retired number. And then in an ultra-rare case, such as quarterback Tom Brady, we would see a player's number retired.
And yet in training camp the Pats have plenty of guys with "inappropriate" numbers. Who here doesn't remember AB wearing #1 in practice when he arrived even after training camp?

https://patriotswire.usatoday.com/2019/07/22/patriots-2019-training-camp-roster/
Jarrett Stidham – 58
N’Keal Harry – 50
Jamie Collins OLB – 8
 

Reverend

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When the time comes, can they hang a hoody with the sleeves ripped off alongside the other retired numbers?
 

sheamonu

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Don't retire numbers anymore (other than Brady - it would be more of a sentence than an honor to assign 12 to any future player). Instead of a ring of honor (been done) I would engrave/illuminate the names on the side of the lighthouse.
 

worm0082

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I wonder if the new NFL jersey numbering system would free up teams to retire more numbers.
 

lexrageorge

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I wonder if the new NFL jersey numbering system would free up teams to retire more numbers.
Theoretically, yes. Whether it happens in practice is still TBD. For one, the rule could always change back at some point in the future (some players, like a certain QB in Tampa, were very much against this rule change). And the rule still doesn't fix the underlying issues unique to the NFL: you still need to have about 60 or so numbers on a team for a season, and there are only 99 (or 101 if 0 and 00 are allowed) numbers to go around. And careers tend to be short, so you have a lot of players cycling through. Which is why I like the Pats approach of having a museum dedicated to the team's great players.
 

Eddie Jurak

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87 Rob Gronkowski. Best TE of all time, one of the most unique players ever.
This, absolutely. There have been plenty of great receiving tight ends over the years. What sets Gronk apart from the lot of them is that 1) he was as much a big play threat as any, and 2) most of the rest of them were essentially big wide receivers while Gronk could have filled in at tackle in an emergency. The second best TE in Patriots history would have to be... Ben Coates? And Coates was great, but the dropoff was massive. Maybe Russ Francis? But he was before my time as a fan.
 
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Russ Francis was great, and was one of my favorite players as a kid, but I think most that watched both would agree that Coates was the better player.
 

amRadio

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For Patriots fans who know a lot more about the team than I: has 4 been assigned to another player since AV? I agree AV deserves the Patriots HOF but maybe not a number retirement. Just wondering, it's been a lot of years.

I would go with 12, 87 and (I think very few will agree) 11. I will never see 11 on a Patriots uniform and not think of JE11.
 

Euclis20

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For Patriots fans who know a lot more about the team than I: has 4 been assigned to another player since AV? I agree AV deserves the Patriots HOF but maybe not a number retirement. Just wondering, it's been a lot of years.

I would go with 12, 87 and (I think very few will agree) 11. I will never see 11 on a Patriots uniform and not think of JE11.
Somewhere, Jarrett Stidham is crying.
 

Sandwich Pick

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For Patriots fans who know a lot more about the team than I: has 4 been assigned to another player since AV? I agree AV deserves the Patriots HOF but maybe not a number retirement. Just wondering, it's been a lot of years.

I would go with 12, 87 and (I think very few will agree) 11. I will never see 11 on a Patriots uniform and not think of JE11.
Was Ben Coates (87) ever as dominant as Gronk? I know he was amazing in 1994.
 

lexrageorge

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Was Ben Coates (87) ever as dominant as Gronk? I know he was amazing in 1994.
No. He was one of the premier TE's in the league for a couple of years, but not as good of a blocker as Gronk. And his peak was shorter. Also, Gronk was (still is) more dominant in the red zone.
 

Old Fart Tree

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Was Ben Coates (87) ever as dominant as Gronk? I know he was amazing in 1994.
Ben Coates was goddamn amazing and did it in an era with way less pass friendly rules and for several years as the only real weapon in the passing game for the pats.

but no. He was not as dominant as Gronkowski, not close.