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Ten Years Ago Today, Syracuse Retired 44 For Some Dumb Reason

It's the 10th Anniversary of the announcement that Syracuse Athletics would retire the legendary number 44. Let's take a look back at why.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While there was a ceremony on November 12, 2005 during a game against the (historically-relevant?) South Florida Bulls, the official announcement that the Syracuse Orange football program would retire the fabled Number 44 came on April 20, 2005. Perhaps it's coincidental that the decision was announced on 4/20 because, in the decade since, a whole lot of Orange fans have been wondering what DOCTOR Gross was smoking when he made the call.

I dug up the USA Today article written about that announcement and, honestly, I just really wanted to share it with you guys and break down some of the silly and ludicrous things therein. This thing ages like a fine wine.

The number 44 has meant so much to Syracuse University that the school years ago changed its telephone exchange to 443 and its ZIP code to 13244. While those numbers will remain part of the school's tradition, no Orange football player will again wear 44.

Wanna bet?

"I love the history of this school, and I love the legacy of this school," said Gross, who became AD in December. "It just seemed to make sense to all of us once we started talking about retiring the jersey. I think this is the right time."

Good reminder that Gross made this fairly big decision after being at Syracuse for about five months. I wonder who "all of us" was...

Gross said he talked with new football coach Greg Robinson about the idea, and the coach liked the concept.

Sadly, this was before it was understood that you do the opposite of whatever Greg Robinson thinks is a good idea.

"We want to start a new number to continue that kind of tradition," said Gross...

And ten years later, we all proudly talk about The Legend of 86 to all who will listen...

...who said the response from most fans to the idea has been "positive."


"It will be in the rafters (of the Carrier Dome) forever," he said. "It's not disappearing. It will live on."

If things play out as we expect, then you're right. It's not disappearing. It'll be back soon enough...