Why Can Ty Montgomery Wear Number 88?

Ty Montgomery is a running back. Ty Montgomery wears 88. Believe it or not, these are two things that can happen at the same time.

Of course, you believe this and have made peace with it. You are a reader of The Power Sweep, after all, and you tuned in to our exploration of Montgomery’s number situation long, long ago.

Andy Benoit of The Monday Morning Quarterback apparently doesn’t read The Power Sweep, though, because he won’t let the issue of Ty Montgomery’s number choices go. He’s brought up Montgomery’s number again and again under the guise of the competitive advantage it allegedly gives the Packers, diving into the issue again this week.

So, for all of our edification via the misguided tweeting of Andy Benoit, here, once and for all, is the complete NFL rule that allows Ty Montgomery to wear number 88.

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This is a screenshot of the 2017 NFL Rulebook, available for your perusal here. The text of the relevant portion reads “A change in jersey numeral is not required if the change is from an ineligible position to another ineligible position, or from an eligible position to another eligible position, provided that the player has participated at least one season at his position prior to the change.”

Ty Montgomery played the 2015 season as a wide receiver wearing number 88, completing the one year required at his original position before switching to running back in 2016. This shouldn’t be difficult to understand, but Benoit won’t let it go.

Of course, Benoit could be trolling, but I think that’s giving him too much credit. Benoit is a known pedant who’s made his career to date on grinding tape and coming to dubious conclusions. It’s at the very least not improbable that he seriously believes the Packers are gaining an advantage via Montgomery’s number.

It’s interesting, then, that if Benoit is so concerned about numerical order, he’d allow a previous injustice to go unchallenged. Benoit joined Twitter in June 2009 and watched Devin Hester line up as a receiver for the Chicago Bears for five seasons wearing number 23. Hester only wore 23 because he was originally drafted as a defensive back before making the switch to offense full time.

Using Benoit’s logic, Chicago’s opponents could very well have been confused as to how many backs the Bears had in the huddle. “Whoa, multiple guys wearing numbers in the 20s?” you can imagine them wondering. “Guess we can look for a three back set!”

Imagine their surprise when Hester, whose identity as a receiver would surely have been a mystery to the defense to that point, trotted out of the huddle and split wide as a receiver. What a staggering injustice of competition, since there’s no way any defense can know what position a player wearing a particular number actually plays until he lines up on the field.

Yet Benoit never once weighed in. Here’s a complete list of tweets he sent out about the competitive advantage of Devin Hester wearing number 23. It’s significantly shorter than his missives on Ty Montgomery.

I guess in a way, it’s Montgomery that has Benoit’s number.