Wolverines to Retire Numbers
Michigan Announces Plans to Retire Jerseys of Legends
In an era where schools often have so many players dressed for home games that there are duplicate numbers, Michigan it taking out six uniform numbers to honor its storied past. The Wolverines had previously used patches honoring these players on current uniforms, have decided to retire the numbers forever.
The University of Michigan Athletic Department announced Wednesday plans to take the jerseys associated with the Michigan Football Legends back off the field. Gerald Ford (#48), Tom Harmon (#98), Desmond Howard (#21), Ron Kramer (#87), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47) and the Wistert brothers (#11) — Albert, Alvin and Whitey — will have their jerseys retired in a ceremony against Ohio State on Nov. 28.
At this time, Howard’s No. 21 jersey will officially be retired. Howard’s was the only jersey of the six that was not formally retired at Michigan prior to the implementation of the legends program. He is the second of three Heisman Trophy winners for the University of Michigan and is currently an analyst on ESPN’s College Football GameDay Show on Saturdays during the football season.
“During the search process for our new football coach, I had a meeting with the Michigan Football team, and they expressed their feelings associated with wearing these legendary jerseys,” said Jim Hackett, U-M’s Interim Athletic Director. “At one end of the spectrum they are awed by the legacy of the men that wore them, and at the other end of the spectrum, and as part of a team sport, they wondered why we would call attention to one of our team members. I brought this issue to our new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He agreed with me that it needed a review. I then talked to the families of these great Michigan players. I called them directly and laid out the paradox of seeing players as a team and the due respect to these individual great players.
“The right plan is to retire them and display them in Towsley Museum which is connected to Schembechler Hall,” added Hackett. “Because we don’t have the display area inside the stadium, we have found a high profile area on the concourse where fans can see and honor these retired jerseys.”