Whisper Room

When Danny Wuerffel asked the Redskins to wear the jersey No. 7, it created a day's worth of talk on the radio and a miniature controversy. How could anyone wear a number made famous by Joe Theismann? Now comes Shane Matthews, who wore No. 9 in Chicago.

From what we hear, Matthews wants to wear that number in Washington. He told friends in Chicago that's what he'd prefer.

Problem is, the number was last worn by Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. It's not officially retired. But no one has dared ask for it since Jurgensen retired. At least no one who understood Redskins' history.

Former equipment manager Jay Brunetti once guarded these numbers, keeping them sacred. That's why No. 44 hasn't been worn, either. Brunetti is now in Houston but enough sentimentality remains in the building. Not a lot, but enough.

But fear not. A Redskins source said they can't see any way Matthews is granted his request. The reason is obvious: Jurgensen is tight with owner Daniel Snyder. If Sonny doesn't want this to happen, it won't.

Besides, it's not as if Matthews is Drew Bledsoe or an All-Pro QB. He's merely a career backup--albeit one who might just start this season--without the credentials to wear No. 9. Unless Jurgensen says yes, and Snyder agrees, Matthews will be wearing a different number.

John Keim has covered the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers since 1994.


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