BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL loosened its rules regarding jersey numbers over the offseason, which has led to a number of players switching their numbers. Much cooler numbers.
And in several instances, there is some pretty powerful meaning behind that number switch. That’s the case for new Patriots defensive back Jalen Mills, who will wear the No. 2 with New England.READ MORE: Patriots Release Kicker Roberto Aguayo, Long Snapper Wes Farnsworth
This will be Mills’ third different number during his NFL career, as he wore No. 31 and, more recently, No. 21 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was excited when the NFL announced its new rules over the offseason, because it allowed him to switch to his late uncle’s favorite number.
“He died three years ago, so when the rule change came into play I had the opportunity to get that number,” he explained on his Thursday afternoon video chat after hitting the practice field for an OTA session. “He wasn’t a real big sports fan, but any time I played he watched me. I just waned to represent him with that.”
For Mills, the chance to go to a single digit was both exciting and surprising.READ MORE: WATCH: Tom Brady Once Again Is Not Afraid Of 'The Madden Curse'
“I never expected it, but I always wanted it,” he said. “I always thought it would be sweet if skill positions could wear those numbers, like in college. I think it will bring a new element to the [pro] sports world.”
Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley is also switching his digits from No. 51 to No. 8. But he made his change solely because he thinks it looks cool.
“No deep story behind it. I wore No. 4 in college, and 5-1 was a great number for me,” he said. “Just a little switch up to No. 8. You said it looked good, and I think it looks good too. So I think we hit it.”MORE NEWS: Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes Revealed As Cover Athletes For 'Madden NFL 22'
New tight end Hunter Henry has also found a new number, switching from the 86 that he wore with the Chargers to 85 with the Patriots. That was done to honor his former teammate, Antonio Gates, whom he says is an all-time great at the position.