“I got to talk to Mr. Theismann first before I get that number,” Haskins replied, demonstrating a knowledge of and appreciation for Redskins history. “We’ll see.”
While No. 7 isn’t officially retired by the team, Joe Theismann, who played 12 seasons in Washington and led the Redskins to their first Super Bowl title after the 1982 season, is the only player to have worn it. How would Theismann feel about Haskins becoming the second?
“I’m anxious to sit down and talk to Dwayne about that,” Theismann said Monday on NBC Sports Washington’s “Redskins Talk” podcast. “I’m not opposed to it. I’m not saying yes yet, but I really want to sit down and talk to the young man and get a chance to meet him. I know he’s reached out and said he wants to ask me, so as early as I can get back into town and be able to set up an opportunity when he gets into town to be able to sit down and talk to him about it.”
Theismann said he wore No. 52 as a Pop Warner player and No. 10 in high school before switching to No. 7 at Notre Dame. He kept that number for three seasons with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts and his entire NFL career with the Redskins.
“It’s what’s inside the jersey that makes a big difference,” Theismann said. “I’ve been very honored to have the Washington Redskins not have it issued to anyone over 30-plus years, and this is the first ‘7′ that we’ve had come along, I think. I really want to sit down and have a visit with him and talk to him about it and then we’ll sort of decide going forward.”
While Haskins may be the most prominent player who wore No. 7 in college to join the Redskins, he’s by no means the first since Theismann retired in 1985. Quarterback Todd Husak, a sixth-round pick of the Redskins in 2000, wore No. 7 at Stanford before switching to No. 8 for his one season as a backup in Washington. Two years later, Danny Wuerffel switched from No. 17 to the No. 7 he wore at the University of Florida between the morning and afternoon sessions of a Redskins minicamp in March.
“I sort of believe you shouldn’t retire numbers,” said then-Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier, who didn’t object to Wuerffel wearing No. 7. “You should retire jerseys, maybe. I would hope maybe the former players would like to see their numbers out there.”
When Shane Matthews signed a one-year deal with the Redskins a month later, the quarterback called Sonny Jurgensen to ask for permission to wear his No. 9.
“I know there’s only one number 9 with the Washington Redskins,” Matthews said. “He’s in the Hall of Fame. He was nice enough to let me use it. . . . People who aren’t athletes might not understand, but you get attached to a number.”
Jurgensen also told Matthews that he would be “opening up a can of worms with some people in Washington” if he wore No. 9, and team officials ultimately convinced Matthews it would be better if he picked a different digit.
“I’m not wearing number 9,” Matthews said. “I’m going to cooperate and wear number 6. That’s just the way it is.”
Ten days later, Spurrier overturned his earlier decision to allow Wuerffel to wear No. 7, and Wuerffel went back to wearing No. 17.
“When all the flak came up about the other number Shane was going to wear, I thought it was best to eliminate all those numbers you’re not supposed to wear,” Spurrier said.
The Redskins have only one officially retired number — Sammy Baugh’s No. 33 — but several other numbers, including Sean Taylor’s No. 21 and John Riggins’s No. 44, haven’t been issued to other players out of respect for those who made them famous. Safety Landon Collins hoped to wear Taylor’s No. 21 after signing with Washington this offseason, but the team ultimately announced Collins, who idolized Taylor growing up, would wear No. 20.
Baugh, the Redskins’ Hall of Fame quarterback, didn’t mind when former Cowboys running back Duane Thomas asked to wear his number after being traded to Washington in 1973.
“If Duane Thomas wants number 33 and it would make him happy, I’m all for giving him number 33,” Baugh told The Washington Post at the time. “I was wondering when they were going to run out of numbers and put my old one to use. I’d be happy to see someone else wear it.”
Baugh said no one from the Redskins had contacted him about relinquishing his rights to the number. Thomas wore No. 47 during his two seasons in Washington.
“If they would, I’d tell them, ‘Go ahead; it’s my pleasure,’ ” Baugh said. “If someone really wanted to wear it — and I would be helping him in some way — give him the number. If a number makes a guy happy, let him be happy. It won’t make a player a good player, nor will it make him a bad player. It’s a number.”
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