PITTSBURGH — The NFL made a rule change this offseason that teams could allow their players to now wear the number 0 and one rookie in Darnell Washington is hoping that the Steelers will allow him to wear the number 0.
On Twitter, Washington lobbied with Mike Tomlin to allow him to wear the number zero, which was his number in college.
— Darnell Washington (@_Dwfootball11) April 29, 2023
There may have been many players that want to wear it, but I am not sure that anyone would have envisioned a 6-foot-7 massive tight end that eats players in space to be the one to wear it. But that was his college number, and after the rule change, there are no restrictions on positions and what players can wear what number, aside from offensive and defensive linemen.
The rule change, which was proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles, will allow quarterbacks, kickers, defensive backs, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, wide receivers and linebackers to wear the uniform number zero. All of those position groups had previously been approved for numbers one through nine. The change will also allow kickers to wear numbers from 0-49 and from 90-99.
The numbers o and 00 were worn in the NFL before number standardization was formally encoded in 1973. Hall of Fame Jim Otto wore 00 with the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s. Players that wore non-standard numbers before 1973 were grandfathered in.
Darnell Washington could be the only tight end to wear the number. Pittsburgh does have some experience with the loosening of numbers, with Melvin Ingram having worn No. 8 in 2021. In fact, Washington would be the first Steelers player to wear the number since 1948.
The only Pittsburgh Steelers player to ever wear zero was Johnny Clement, who wore it from 1946-48 and was nicknamed Mr. Zero. He played in 25 games and threw 228 times, completing 86 for 1,630 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also ran 239 times for 991 yards and seven scores and also served as a kick and punt returner.