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Zero to Hero: The NFL's No. 0 Reclaims Its Place in History

Written by: Richard Janvrin
Published March 29, 2023
5 min read

As of March 28, 2023, players in the NFL can now wear No. 0. 

Proposed to the competition committee in early March by the Philadelphia Eagles, league owners voted to allow it at the Annual League Meeting, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. 

Here, we’ll look at the history of the No. 0 in the NFL, including why it became not allowed, when players were last able to do it, players that have and will wear it, and more. 

History of 0 and 00 in the NFL

Before 1973, players could wear No. 0, but only a few did (that we could find). 

  • Johnny Clement, QB/HB: He wore No. 0 when he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers between 1946-1948. 

  • Johnny Olszewski, FB: 'Johnny O' was one of the first players to wear 0 in the NFL. He had stints with the Chicago Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, and Denver Broncos.

  • George Plimpton, QB: Wore it during a preseason stint with the Detroit Lions in 1963. 

  • Obert Logan, DB: Wore No. 0 during his season with the New Orleans Saints in 1967.

  • Jim Otto, C: Otto wore No. 00 for most of his career with the Oakland Raiders between 1961-1974.

  • Ken Burrough, WR: Burrough was the last player to ever wear No. 00 for the Houston Oilers in the 1970s.

In 1973, the NFL issued a jersey numbering system. This system was designed to assign a range of numbers based on position. 

  • 1-19: QB, Specialist.
  • 20-49: RB, DB.
  • 50-59: C, LB.
  • 60-79: DL, Interior OL.
  • 80-99: WR, TE.

Then, in 2021, there was added flexibility to which positions could wear what number, but still, No. 0 or No. 00 wasn’t included. 

As of 2021, the number system was the following: 

  • 1-19: QB, RB, FB, WR, TE, H-Back, LB, DB, K, P.

  • 20-49: RB, FB, WR, TE, H-Back, LB, DB.

  • 50-59: OL, DL, LB.

  • 60-79: OL, DL.

  • 80-89: RB, FB, WR, TE, H-Back.

  • 90-99: DL, LB.

Now, with the new rule, quarterbacks, defensive backs, fullbacks, tight ends, halfbacks, wide receivers, linebackers, punters, and kickers can wear No. 0. This continues the trend of the NFL acclimating to the college game. 

Two players in 2023 have announced they’ll wear No. 0, bringing the total to three players to wear No. 0 and five to either No. 0 or No. 00. 

Players Set to Wear No. 0 In 2023

Following the March 28, 2023 announcement, two players have announced they will wear No. 0 for the 2023 NFL season.

The first to announce was Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley. Ridley was suspended in 2022 after making a sports bet at Hard Rock Sportsbook in Florida. 

On March 29, Giants recent wide receiver signee Parris Campell, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, announced he’d also wear No. 0. 


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AUTHOR

Richard Janvrin

550 Articles

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.

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