After much speculation it's finally happened; Linebacker Jaylon Smith will be changing jersey numbers to #9 this season. While this was Smith's college number and special to him for legitimate reasons, it's sure to create uproar among Dallas Cowboys fans who consider that number to belong solely to former Quarterback Tony Romo.
Nobody was worn #9 since Romo's retirement in 2017. While the Cowboys don't officially retire jersey numbers, some like Roger Staubach's #12, Troy Aikman's #8, and Emmitt Smith's #22 have never been worn by another Dallas player since those legends moved on.
Jaylon Smith is making a jersey switch, moving from No. 54 to No. 9, but it will come at a cost. According to multiple sources, Smith will pay close to mid-six figures to buy out the current inventory of No. 54 jerseys and t-shirts, which follows NFL… https://t.co/zUi2G1Sftg
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) May 25, 2021
While any player being given Romo's number would illicit a strong response, it will be especially tough for Jaylon Smith as one of the most maligned players currently on the roster. Smith's declining performance the last two years, along with a seeming lack of self-awareness with his celebrations and public remarks, have severely hurt his popularity with Cowboys Nation.
The idea of Smith switching to #9 was first floated months ago when the NFL changed the rules for allowed jersey numbers based on position. Linebackers were currently only allowed to wear numbers 40-59 or 90-99 under the previous rule.
But with the new rule effective this year, changes are happening throughout the NFL. We already know that rookie LB Micah Parsons is keeping his #11 from Penn State in his first year with Dallas.
For Jaylon Smith, this change is only going to increase the scrutiny and negative reactions from Cowboys fans. Let's hope that the jersey change comes with a change in his play, otherwise it's going to be a miserable year for everyone involved.