The Indianapolis Colts have announced that newly-signed wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will wear No. 14 — a number without much history as far as the horseshoe is concerned. But the number is new to Nicks; when he won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, he wore No. 88, a number that once belonged to future Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison. But, as great as Marvin was, his number has not been retired, and I don’t think it should be.
The Colts have not been in the business of retiring numbers since they’ve been in Indianapolis, but they did inherit a few retired numbers from the Baltimore iteration of the team. That, and team owner Jim Irsay‘s clear declaration that No. 18 would never be worn again, brings the total of unavailable numbers to near double-digits. With so many men on each year’s roster (and considering some players even share numbers through final cuts), teams have to be extremely picky about which numbers are declared sacred. I’m of the opinion that retiring No. 18 is entirely appropriate, but 88 needs to remain available. The Ring of Honor exists for great players like him.
Peyton Manning completely redefined the team. Harrison was a great contributor, and he’ll always hold a special place in Colts fans’ hearts. Perhaps Nicks took a different number because it seemed too soon to reuse the blue 88; perhaps it was a show of respect, or perhaps they just liked the idea of having almost all of the receivers in chronological order (TY Hilton at 13, Nicks at 14, LaVon Brazill at 15, Da’Rick Rogers at 16, and Griff Whalen at 17). As it stands, Nicks is in Indianapolis on a one-year contract. Maybe if he earns a second season he’ll earn his number back as well.