Michigan Honors President Gerald Ford’s Retired Jersey


Brady Hoke announced on Birmingham’s JOX 94.5 FM Tuesday that Michigan would reintroduce three retired numbers, including President Gerald Ford’s No. 48. Ford sported 48 while playing center for the Wolverines, from 1932 to 1934. His number was retired six decades later in 1994. Imagine being the player whose predecessor was leader of the free world. Talk about a lofty standard.

Because number possibilities are limited to 1 through 99, retiring jerseys requires careful consideration. A program like Michigan has such illustrious history that the practice isn’t necessarily practical. Hoke’s outlined plan to honor Ford with Legend designation is a recognition that supersedes retirement. The Wolverines introduced the Legend concept last season with Desmond Howard’s No. 21, which receiver Roy Roundtree wore.

USC has established No. 55 as designation for defensive leaders, a tradition some consider more meaningful than retirement. It honors the leaders of the past, while maintaining team over individual. Junior Seau sported No. 55 while wreaking havoc on opposing offenses, and has been passed through Trojan lore to players like Keith Rivers.

After Seau’s passing last month, Rivers tweeted at SaturdayBlitz.com and Friend of the Blog Reign of Troy the following:

Criteria for Michigan’s use of No. 48 is not set. Ford played center when he was named Wolverine MVP in ’34, but use of a reception eligible number on the line is questionable. The spirit will probably mean more than the position, unlike No. 55 at USC.

What numbers could other programs adopt as Legend worthy? Leave your suggestions in the comments.