During the Chiefs three day rookie mini-camp, they issued jersey No. 68 to undrafted free agent Garrett Brown. The Star’s Adam Teicher took exception to the team handing out the number that Will Shields will soon have retired.
As it turns out, Scott Pioli called Shields to seek permission and he is fine with how the team handled the situation.
”It was done in a class-act way,” Shields said. ‘ ‘A number is only a number. It served me well when I played but now it’s someone else’s turn. There’s got to be someone wearing it before me and there’s got to be someone wearing it afterward.”
The Chiefs had a tryout player at last weekend’s rookie camp wearing number 88, which Tony Gonzalez used for so many years in Kansas City. I didn’t make an issue of that because it was issued only to a tryout player who presumably won’t be with the Chiefs any more. At any rate, the Chiefs say they also asked Gonzalez for his blessing to use his number and he OKed the move.
I understand the Chiefs are in a quandry regarding uniform numbers. They have 10 numbers already retired, not counting numbers 68 and 88. They have 84 players on their roster, so it’s obvious they’re being squeezed with regard to available numbers.
You could argue that the team didn’t need to seek permission to use a number that isn’t yet retired, but it was classy that they did and just as classy for Shields and Gonzalez to give their blessing.
Both players are all-time greats that will soon enough see their numbers retired. Having a couple of rookies give their jerseys a shot for a year isn’t going to kill anyone. And with the way the Chiefs have played the past few years, maybe some of their talent will come through their old number and help Kansas City win a few games this season.