Clarifying the 44 Confusion

Clarifying the confusion surrounding 44 after Tuesday's announcement and Wednesday's statement from Syracuse Athletics.

Syracuse unretired 44, or restored as some would prefer to say, on Tuesday much to the delight of many Orange football fans. Then on Wednesday, Kevin Quinn (senior vice president of public affairs) made some comments to Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson that had everyone wondering if 44 was indeed back.

Let’s break it down a little to calm everyone down.

Floyd Little and Pete Sala on Tuesday: A small committee will determine when and if the number is handed out.

Quinn on Wednesday: Fourty-four will be worn in special circumstances and it would take someone extraordinary to wear the jersey.

I don’t see how those contradict each other. In fact, isn’t it right that 44 is only worn once in a while rather than all the time? That’s how it was done in the past and that’s how it should be done now that is has been restored. In fact, Quinn stated that there is a committee that can issue the jersey but it takes a high bar to be worthy of it.

I think that’s what everyone wants. I think that sounds reasonable. I don’t think those statements contradict each other.

There have always been gaps between the number being worn by an active player. That will be continue to be the case. Were Quinn’s comments needed? Probably not. Did they create some added unnecessary confusion? Probably.

But I don’t believe that is a reason to panic, freak out, or think that means 44 is not back. It is. It will be. When? How? Who? Those are questions that remain unanswered. But at some point in the future, a player will run out of the Carrier Dome tunnel wearing the 44 jersey for the first time since 1998.

Tuesday’s ceremony was simply about publicly stating that fact. Wednesdays’ comments were likely an attempt to quell some of the national media backlash, specifically from prominent alum Donovan McNabb who tweeted the restoration of 44 “disrespected” those who wore it.

Were Wednesday’s comments necessary? No they weren’t. But they don’t take away from what happened on Tuesday nor the message behind the announcement. Quinn’s comments seemed to indicate, while it was seemingly retired by Dr. Gross in 2005, maybe it was always available.

He could simply be attempting to let people know that they just have not found someone worthy of wearing it since 1998. There have been rumblings of it being offered to former players in that timeframe who politely declined.

Regardless, 44 is back and Wednesday’s comments do not change that. In fact, when you read them verbatim and compare them to what Sala, Little and Shafer said, them don’t actually seem to contradict what was said on Tuesday. In fact, they seem to be in line with the way 44 was always handed out.

So while they created unnecessary confusion, they did not change the fact that 44 seems closer to returning than ever before.


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