It's officially safe for Green Bay Packers’ fans to pull out their James Jones jerseys again.
A day after re-signing with the team, the 31-year-old receiver was given his old No. 89 back from second-year tight end Richard Rodgers free of charge. Rodgers will instead wear No. 82, which he wore in high school and during his freshman year at the University of California.
Rodgers said the number didn’t have any significant meaning for him, so bequeathing it to the ninth-year veteran receiver wasn’t a difficult decision. Jones, who hasn’t worn any other number in the NFL, would have been fine wearing a new number if 89 came with a price tag.
Fortunately it didn’t.
“I’m not going to be wasting money on paying for a number,” Jones said. “I’d have put No. 11 on or something. It’s not that serious to me. I don’t have it tattooed on my body or nothing like that. I asked him, I did a lot of work in that number out here and he was a good man. He let me get it.”
A few former Packers returned to the organization later in their careers with new numbers, including all-time leading rusher Ahman Green. After wearing No. 30 during his first seven seasons in Green Bay, he switched to No. 34 when he re-signed in 2009 because fullback John Kuhn had taken his old number.
Jones still appreciated the gesture from Rodgers, who was drafted in the same 2014 offseason that the veteran receiver left in free agency to Oakland. While no money traded hands, Jones plans to repay the favor at some point.
“Man, whatever Rich needs, he’s got from me,” Jones said. “I talked to him (Sunday), he said he don’t have no ties to the number, go ahead and take it, buddy. I appreciate him. Anytime he wants to go to dinner, or he needs a pair of shoes or something, need to pay for his haircut, anytime, I’m here to help him.”
-email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.