The Eagles should have 85 players on the field Friday for the first day of minicamp. None will be wearing No. 20.
When the Eagles were issuing uniform numbers for their newcomers, draft picks and undrafted free agents, No. 20 went unassigned.
The number is synonymous with Brian Dawkins, and always will be in the minds and hearts of Eagles fans. Pity the poor young defensive back who would have been saddled with carrying on that tradition.
The Eagles often have not immediately given out the numbers vacated by popular players when they move on, but indications are that No. 20 has moved into the category of sacred numbers.
Dawkins' No. 20 likely can be viewed like Randall Cunningham's No. 12. The number is not retired, but it has not been worn since Jeffrey Lurie purchased the team.
Reggie White's No. 92 was worn for a day at the first minicamp after Lurie purchased the team, but Lurie put a stop to that and it was not worn again and then was retired after White's death.
The NFL discourages teams from retiring too many numbers simply because teams would eventually run out, especially during training camp and early in the preseason. The Eagles have seven retired jerseys.
The team has 85 players on the roster, with four numbers being worn by more than one player, because of the volume of linemen at this time of year.
In case you are wondering, the vacant numbers other than 12 and 20 are 1, 7, 8, 9, 38, 47, 48, 69, 72, 83, 85 and 94. Tra Thomas had worn 72 and Jon Runyan had 69.
Ellis Hobbs has proved to be quite loquacious in his few days as a member of the Eagles and he already seems to be enjoying being with the Birds.
He told the Boston Globe that the trade was "like a breath of fresh air."
Now, I'm feeling like somebody wants me, somebody thinks I can do the job, somebody is embracing me with love and wants me here," said Hobbs. "They've already done that. Words only go so far, see. We'll see what's done from here."
Hobbs also talked about being reunited with former New England teammate Asante Samuel:
"There is a mutual respect," said Hobbs. "I'll go on the record and say there was no animosity. There was never a dispute. Or something like 'he's showing me up' or 'I'm showing him up' or anything like that, man. We enjoyed each other's company."
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