Indianapolis Colts wide receiver DeMichael Harris took the field for the first time on Oct. 18 when he faced the Cincinnati Bengals. He tallied three receptions for 29 yards during his debut but sparked criticism for his jersey number. Harris wore No. 12, which former first overall pick Andrew Luck donned for seven years before suddenly retiring.
Fans expressed anger after seeing Harris in the No. 12 jersey, and he had to respond to questions about his attire. The undrafted rookie explained that he had no desire to replace Luck and that there was no ill will in the decision to wear the number. It was actually just a matter of availability. Harris had no other choice but to wear No. 12.
"They told me No. 12 was the only number available," Harris explained to reporters on Tuesday. "It’s just a number. Andrew Luck was a great player, the No. 1 draft pick of course. But I'm just trying to make a statement on my own. I'm not too big into numbers, who had it before me and all that. But I understand it was Luck, so I know that’s a big thing."
According to NFL rules, there are only a limited number of jerseys available to wide receivers. They have to be in the range of 10-19 and 80-89. Nothing else is permitted by the league's handbook. Of those numbers, the majority are currently taken by active players or have been retired.
The Colts retired No. 18, 19, 82 and 89 in honor of Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry and Gino Marchetti, respectively. They are no longer available to the athletes. Similarly, Reggie Wayne (No. 87) and Marvin Harrison (No. 88) are both in the Ring of Honor.
10: Daurice Fountain
11: Michael Pittman
13: T.Y. Hilton
14: Zach Pascal
15: Parris Campbell
16: Ashton Dulin
17: Philip Rivers
80: Trey Burton
81: Mo Alie-Cox
83: Marcus Johnson
84: Jack Doyle
85: Dezmon Patmon
86: Noah Togiai
There are several teams that face similar issues due to the number of Hall of Fame players in their respective histories. Many decide to retire the numbers as a sign of respect for everything accomplished. However, there is one franchise that takes a different approach by passing down a legendary number.
Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb currently wears No. 88 for America's Team, but he is not the only talented player to do so. More than 30 players have donned the iconic jersey, including Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. Additionally, Dez Bryant and Drew Pearson shined for the Cowboys while wearing No. 88.