Today, we’re discussing Syracuse’s legendary number 44, and whether it should be taken out of the rafters for Sean Tucker. John argued in favor of giving him the number, while I present the case for why not. So if you’re mad about one of these articles, the other one is there for your consumption.
After Sean Tucker accomplished something that no other Syracuse Orange player had done before, the whispers became a loud roar. By nightfall on Saturday the 44 signal shone high about the Carrier Dome roof. Fans want to see a Syracuse player wearing the legendary number and Tucker’s five touchdowns make him the perfect candidate.....or does it?
Eleven athletes have donned the 44 jersey and there’s no question that the decision to retire it back in 2005 was short-sighted. What I’d rather see is the number given to a player regardless of position who has demonstrated success on the field, in the classroom and in the community. For this year’s Syracuse team Kingsley Jonathan would meet that criteria. It would be a wonderful recruitment tool for the Orange to each week have the announcers talking up the accomplishments of the player wearing 44 and having it be about more than just statistics.
Limiting 44 to one position creates some challenges and pressure on the player. Here’s what Jim Brown said back in 2005
“I think it probably should be (retired), I think it’s very difficult to try to pick an individual prematurely that’s going to be able to fulfill the shoes of 44.”
The key word for me there is “prematurely”. There is no need to hand the number to land a recruit. There is no reason to hand the number to a player with less than 20 games under his belt. The legacy and weight of 44 can create the type of pressure that may be challenging for young players to handle so why rush it? Establishing a new tradition can mean the player won’t be measured by statistics but by their overall contributions to the Syracuse program.
When he compiled over 100 yards rushing and receiving against Albany, Tucker made Syracuse school history. He should reach surpass 1,000 yards rushing in his career on Friday night (he has 993 yards) and if he continues on this path he’d make a worthwhile 44 but just not yet. Let’s allow Sean to grow into the player and person who is prepared to carry on the legacy.
So we can #Restore44 but with some adjustments to make it a celebration of the history instead of a burden of expectations.