WTF Fun Fact 13559 – Fun Fact About Football Jersey Numbers

Did you know that some players pick their football jersey numbers based on how slim the number itself might make them look?!

Numbers on a football jersey are more than just identifiers; they may influence our perception of a player’s physique. Recent research from UCLA delves into this intriguing aspect, suggesting that lower jersey numbers might make players appear slimmer.

The Tradition of Football Jersey Numbers

Traditionally, NFL mandated wide receivers to wear numbers between 80 and 89. However, a policy shift in 2004 offered players more flexibility in their choices. Fast forward to 2019, and a significant 80% of wide receivers favored numbers between 10 and 19. Why such a strong shift?

Ladan Shams, a celebrated professor at UCLA in psychology and neuroscience, spearheaded a study to understand this perceptual phenomenon. Published in the PLOS ONE journal, the research comprised two experiments. Observers consistently perceived players donning jerseys numbered 10-19 as slimmer than those in jerseys numbered 80-89, even when the players’ body sizes were identical.

Shams explained, “Numbers written on objects in our daily lives usually represent their magnitude. The higher the number, the bigger the object. Our brains detect and store these statistical associations, which can shape future perception.”

Addressing Skepticism

Considering potential criticisms, the research team conducted a second experiment. There might be a perception that the numeral 8, being wider than 1, could make players appear broader. To counteract this, they used number pairs like 17 and 71, 18 and 81, 19 and 91. The results? Players with higher numbers still appeared huskier, though the effect was slightly muted.

While these perceptions may not directly affect a player’s on-field performance, such biases have wider implications. These biases, often unnoticeable, influence judgments and decisions in everyday life. For instance, implicit biases, rooted in frequently associated negative qualities with a group, can dictate how individuals within that group are treated.

Shams emphasizes the power of representation, “We need to see all kinds of people doing a diverse range of activities. Harnessing the statistical learning ability of our brains can help counteract implicit bias.”

Football, often seen as just a sport, provides a mirror to deeper societal perceptions and biases. While the choice of a jersey number might seem trivial, it offers profound insights into human psychology and perception. As the saying goes, sometimes the details tell the broader story.

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Source: “Lower jersey numbers make football players look thinner” — Science Daily

WTF Fun Fact 13280 – The History of NFL Free Agency

The history of NFL free agency goes back to 1947. The first free agent in NFL history was Charley Trippi. He signed with the Chicago Cardinals in ’47 after his contract with the team expired.

However, free agency as we know it today, with unrestricted players being able to sign with any team, was introduced in 1992. This was only after players sued for the right to choose their own teams as free agents.

The complex history of NFL free agency

According to the Bleach Report (cited below), prior to 1947, a “clause in a player’s contract allowed the team to re-sign him every year to the same contract, meaning that he wasn’t going anywhere unless they traded him or he decided to retire. This was considered acceptable by just about everyone until players started to step forward and demand some sort of role in these transactions.”

Between 1989 and 1992, the NFL instituted a policy called “Plan B.” The decision allowed teams to protect their 37 best players each year.

An 8-woman federal jury found Plan B to be illegal in 1992. This happened after 8 players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. According to a New York Times story after the verdict:

The players argued that the league’s system of free agency — known as Plan B — constituted a restraint of trade by illegally limiting their ability to earn top salaries comparable with those of players in other pro sports.”

At the time, the NFL vowed to appeal the decision. Furthermore, they claimed that Plan B was essential to maintain a competitive balance between all 28 teams.

The jury awarded no damages to the players who filed the suit. But the judge ordered the NFL to pay their legal fees.

The first unrestricted free agent

The NFL’s first unrestricted free agent was Reggie White. White signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1993. White was a defensive lineman. He spent six seasons with the Packers and helped lead the team to victory in Super Bowl XXXI.

White’s signing as an unrestricted free agent was a landmark moment in NFL history, as it paved the way for other players to enjoy greater freedom and control over their careers. The current free agency system, which allows for unrestricted free agency and limits the use of the franchise tag, was put in place in part because of the lessons learned from White’s signing.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “How Free Agency Changed the NFL Forever” — Bleacher Report

WTF Fun Fact 13125 – NFL Referees Get Superbowl Rings

NFL referees don’t get a lot of love, But the refs chosen to work the Superbowl do get their own Superbowl rings.

Receiving a Superbowl ring

A Superbowl ring is obviously a valuable object. Only the winning team gets them, but so do all the referees. The tradition goes all the way back to the first NFL-AFL Championship Game in 1967, which is retroactively called Superbowl I.

Only referees with the best reputations and records are chosen to officiate the Superbowl. They do receive compensation above and beyond their salaries for the work. But the ring serves as an extra reward and moment.

In fact, the refs are the only people guaranteed to get Superbowl rings regardless of the outcome of the game.

But rest assured, they’re nowhere near as large or as valuable as the massive diamond-encrusted rings the players get.

Who else gets a ring?

According to NBC 6 News (cited below):

“While there isn’t a hard-and-fast number to how much a Super Bowl ring is worth, depending on the circumstances and details of the ring, experts generally appraise them between $30,000 and $50,000 based on the jewels and features alone.”

As of 2020, all 53 players on a winning NFL team, as well as coaches, team executives, and the practice squad get Superbowl rings. But they’re not all worth the same amount of money. The bling that goes to non-players is up to the discretion of team owners. And they have so much discretion that they can even choose to bestow some type of ring on cheerleaders and trainers.

While the losing team members do not get Superbowl rings, they do get conference championship rings. But it’s a lot rarer for someone to show one of those off, so we don’t hear much about them.

Who makes and pays for Superbowl rings?

Ever wonder who makes Superbowl rings? It’s typically Jostens – the same company that makes most yearbooks and class rings! However, they have to bid on the job each year. In the past, they’ve been outbid a few times by Balfour and even Tiffany’s & Co.

Wondering who pays for all this bling?

The cost of team rings is split between the NFL (which contributes roughly $5k to $7k per ring for up to 150 rings per team) and team owners.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Here’s How Much a Super Bowl Ring Costs and How It’s Made” — NBC 6

WTF Fun Fact – Kurt Warner The Grocery Store Clerk

WTF Fun Fact - Kurt Warner The Grocery Store Clerk

In 1994, Kurt Warner was cut from the NFL and got a job at a grocery store in Iowa. Four years later, Warner would lead the St. Louis Rams to their only Super Bowl win, setting several league records, and winning both the NFL regular season MVP and Super Bowl MVP. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: Kurt Warner’s Grocery-Store Checker to NFL MVP Story a Tale of Perseverance | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights