OK, look: You know and I know that this means absolutely nothing in regard to whether Zach Wilson will be a successful quarterback with the Jets. Logically, intellectually, sensibly, we can all agree that the number on a player’s jersey is merely a way to keep track of who he is. There is zero power in a number. Less than zero. It is a piece of trivia, nothing more.
(Not that there’s ever REALLY anything at all logical, intellectual or sensible about stuff like this in sports …)
So Wilson — who wore both No. 1 and No. 11 at Brigham Young — has chosen to wear No. 2 as a Jet. He made that official on Thursday.
“I’m just mixing it up, doing something new,” Wilson said. “I like any single-digit number, I think they’re cool. I was the second pick, so that’s a good reason to switch it up. Not much reason behind it, but I just think it’s a cool number.”
It is also …
(And, again, this means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING …)
It is also a number that has never been worn by a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Matt Ryan came closest. He came, in fact, about as close as you can come to winning a Super Bowl without actually winning a Super Bowl, when he led the Falcons to a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI before taking part in the greatest gag job in NFL history.
Doug Flutie wore No. 2 for the Bears and for the Patriots, but it wasn’t until he switched to 7 in Buffalo that he had cereal flakes named after him. No. 2 has been good for baseball players (notably Derek Jeter) and basketball players (Kawhi Leonard) and hockey players (Brian Leetch). Secretariat wore No. 2 when he won the 1973 Belmont by 31 lengths.
But football? There is just one player in NFL history who wore No. 2 (though he also dabbled with several other numbers) who made it to the Hall of Fame: Charley Trippi. The good news: He played a little quarterback for the Chicago Cardinals. The bad: He took his last snap-in 1954. Kickers and punters wear 2, mostly.
Still, nobody had ever won a Super Bowl wearing 4 before Brett Favre did it, or 5 before Joe Flacco. Kurt Warner christened 13, Brad Johnson 14, Doug Williams 17. Johnny Unitas is the only 19 to win one, though he played less than half of Super Bowl V before getting hurt and being replaced by Earl Morrall (who joins Jeff Hostetler, Patrick Mahomes and Bart Starr as one of four QBs to win a total of five Super Bowls wearing 15).
Twelve, of course, was not available to Wilson because it belongs to Joe Namath forever. Twelve is also the most popular number to quarterback a Super Bowl champ. It has been done 18 times: by Namath and Aaron Rodgers and Ken Stabler (once each), by Roger Staubach and Bob Griese (twice), by Terry Bradshaw (4) and a certain 199th pick in the 2000 draft (7; that’s Tom Brady, by the way).
Sixteen was available, and 16s have won the Big Game seven times (four for Joe Montana, two for Jim Plunkett, one for Len Dawson). Wilson’s affinity for single digits could have led him to 7 (John Elway and Ben Roethlisberger, two; Joe Theismann, one), 8 (Troy Aikman, three; Steve Young and Trent Dilfer, one each) or 9 (Jim McMahon, Drew Brees, Nick Foles) which have all won multiples.
Or it could’ve led him to try the still-virgin numbers of 1 (despite Warren Moon’s best efforts), or 6 (Baker Mayfield is trying to break that one in). Russell Wilson won one (and should have won another) wearing 3, meaning that right now, as we speak, there is exactly one more Super Bowl-winning quarterback who wore “WILSON” on the back of a jersey as opposed to “2” on the front.
But there’s always room for newcomers. Nobody had won one wearing 11 until Phil Simms did (he was joined later by Mark Rypien). Nobody had won one wearing 10 until Eli Manning did it, and he remains alone there, as does his brother, Peyton, the only QB to win Supes wearing 18.
So Zach Wilson can be the first. And if No. 2 can ever run off a field as Joe Namath once did, reminding the world who was No. 1? He won’t be the last. Book it.