The Green Bay Packers made major waves across the NFL on Friday night, trading up to select wide receiver Christian Watson. After his selection, the team surprisingly assigned him a classic wide receiver number rather than one that takes advantage of the NFL’s expanded numbering rules.
The team’s initial announcement was that Watson would be wearing 82 for the Packers, a number that has recently been given to down-the-roster wide receivers and tight ends. However, on Saturday morning, a change came in and Watson instead will wear number 9:
Jersey # update @ChristianW2017 will wear 9️⃣ for the #Packers #PackersDraft | #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/okRzNdNLFg— Green Bay Packers (@packers) April 30, 2022
Given the trends across the NFL, Watson taking a single-digit number after all makes sense. Perhaps the reason for the update was the fact that 9 was already taken, however, as reserve quarterback Danny Etling had that digit. However, Packers.com now shows Etling as number 19 on the roster with Watson reflected as number 9.
The Packers have actually had remarkably few players wear number 9 in their history. According to Pro Football Reference, nobody wore that number between 1938 and 1988. In the last 35 years, it has showed up on a few players’ jerseys, primarily punters and backup quarterbacks. Names like Jim McMahon, Seneca Wallace, DeShone Kizer, and Blake Bortles show up in the latter category, while Josh Bidwell and Jon Ryan punted in 9s during the 2000s. Last year, linebacker Jaylon Smith wore 9 in his two games with the Packers, being the first player on the roster at a non-QB/non-specialist to wear it as a result of the relaxation of the numbering rules.
Third-round pick Sean Rhyan, meanwhile, received his number, getting number 75. The last player to wear that number in Green Bay was tackle Bryan Bulaga, who had those digits for ten years after his selection in round one of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Watson, for his part, is thrilled to be a Packer, staying in green and gold for at least the next four years. He even tweeted out his excitement this morning:
First morning as a Green Bay Packer and I’ve gotta say, it feels pretty damn good!— Christian Watson (@ChristianW2017) April 30, 2022