Should 88 be retired or is that setting a tough precedent?
Detroit Lions rookie T.J. Hockenson decided to select the No. 88, which seems like an innocuous decision. However, given that Lions Hall of Famer Charlie Sanders once sported the 88, there’s a little more that goes into that decision. Hockenson knows the weight in carrying that legacy, but his decision to pick the number has sparked a different conversation.
In an official statement from Charlie Sanders’ daughter, Charese Sanders-Sailor brought up the idea of retiring he father’s number.
“Although we would have loved for our father’s number to be officially retired…” she said.
Obviously, retiring a number can be complicated in football. NFL rosters are so big—90 players at this time of year—and if a team makes it a habit of retiring numbers, they could find themselves in a very difficult place down the road when trying to assign numbers to players.
So today’s Question of the Day:
Should the Lions retire the number 88 for Charlie Sanders?
My answer: This is a difficult situation, because you’d love to honor more players from your franchise’s history, but can obviously only hold the retired number in extremely high regard if you’re going to leave any numbers for current players.
At Wednesday’s Taste of the Lions event, team president Rod Wood addressed the situation, and probably came up with a solid solution.
“The more numbers you retire, obviously that creates issues with numbers for current players,” Wood admitted. “With the ‘Pride of the Lions’ folks we’ve inducted this year, I think we’re’ probably going to tilt in the direction of recognizing players by putting them in the ‘Pride of the Lions’ and be very judicious with retiring numbers.”
Pride of the Lions is Detroit’s version of the “Ring of Honor” in which former players get permanent fixtures of some sort at Ford Field. Last year, Lomas Brown, Alex Karras and Herman Moore were inducted to the Pride of the Lions, joining 15 other former Lions players—including Charlie Sanders.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s likely the most practical.