GREEN BAY – No. 80 is back in circulation, at least for now.
Undrafted free agent Justin Perillo, a tight end from Maine, was issued No. 80 when Green Bay Packers rookies began arriving for the team’s post-draft rookie orientation camp, based on several photos posted on social media on Monday morning.
The Packers have not officially announced the signing of any of their undrafted free agents, so the team likely won’t make Perillo’s signing official until just before Friday’s first practice.
No. 80, of course, was worn most recently by Packers all-time leading receiver Donald Driver, who retired following the 2012 season. While Driver was feted after his retirement – he had a street in Green Bay named after him and the famous statue of “The Receiver” was repainted to honor him, the Packers never indicated that they intended to retire the number.
Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver James Lofton also wore No. 80 during his Packers career. After him, No. 80 was issued to wide receiver Frankie Neal, tight ends Clint Didier and Jackie Harris, and wide receiver Charles Jordan. Wide receiver Derrick Mayes was the last player to wear No. 80 before Driver, wearing it from 1996 through 1998.
Historically, the Packers have held a number out of circulation for a year – or longer – for highly respected players no longer with the team. The Packers did not issue No. 21 last year after the release of Charles Woodson, and they kept No. 65 out of circulation after Mark Tauscher’s departure.
The Packers have retired only five numbers: Tony Canadeo’s No. 3, Don Hutson’s No. 14, Bart Starr’s No. 15, Ray Nitschke’s No. 66 and Reggie White’s No. 92.
Brett Favre’s No. 4 is expected to be retired once his reconciliation with the franchise is complete, sometime before his expected enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
Ex-University of Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who wore No. 4 for the Badgers, laughed when asked if he’d wear it with the Packers. The fifth-round pick grew up in Wautoma as a Packers fan.
Jersey numbers do change before the regular season begins. For instance, Driver wore No. 13 when he was a rookie seventh-round pick in 1999. When he made the team – and Mayes was traded to Seattle at the end of camp for a seventh-round pick – Driver switched to No. 80.
Meanwhile, Perillo is the subject of a draft diary on The Big Lead.
Return to: Jason Wilde Blog