The Buffalo Bills recently decided to retire Thurman Thomas’ number, which leaves Andre Reed as the next player in line to receive the honor.
It takes a lot for a team to decide to retire a number.
NFL rosters are so big and there are only so many numbers, which is why it was surprising when the Buffalo Bills announced the team plans to retire Thurman Thomas‘ number in 2018. He will become the third Bills player to receive that honor along with Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith.
This article on Bills.com from 2011 explains that while only a few numbers are retired, there are still those that aren’t given out anyway. One of those is the No. 83 most famously worn by Andre Reed.
Reed’s number was last worn by Lee Evans, and may likely only be worn again if the team lands one of the best receivers in the game. That is, if the team doesn’t retire it before then.
If the No. 83 is already essentially off-limits, I see no reason why the team can’t go ahead and retire the number. There are a limited set of numbers that NFL receivers are allowed to wear, but if they aren’t wearing it anyway the team should go ahead and honor a franchise legend.
Reed spent 15 years in Buffalo and caught 86 touchdown passes during his tenure. He was there for the four Super Bowls and left just as the team began to go in a new direction. He had Kelly throwing him the ball, but who knows what would have been if the legendary quarterback didn’t have a legendary receiver on the field.
Reed is already a Hall of Famer and is recognized as a franchise great. Retiring his number would just be the final step in respecting his legacy and what he did for the team.
The Bills legend is only 54 years old so perhaps the team isn’t in a rush to retire his number. But if the years continue to go by and no one wears the number, the right thing to do is to hang it up for good.