Many current Broncos have chosen to wear the jersey numbers of former Broncos greats. David Bruton wears Terrell Davis’ No. 30; Knowshon Moreno wears Steve Atwater’s No. 27 in an ironic “juxt of positions.”
Many others have worn the numbers of Broncos legends, but none is more poignant and justified than the selection of the No. 87 by Denver’s third round pick Eric Decker out of Minnesota.
One thing fans, myself included, tend to do is revere the numeric designations of their favorite players. It varies in degrees between players and increases exponentially according to accomplishments with the team and how much their personality and play endeared them to a fanbase.
Sometimes that level reaches the point with a franchise, driven largely by its fanbase, that it decides to restrict the number from being worn, effectively “retiring” the number. Nobody in the Broncos Universe will ever wear the Holy Grail of Denver Numerology, the hallowed No. 7! I dare say that if a middle school quarterback donned the number, there would be a riot in the streets.
Other numbers such as 30, 27, and 84, currently worn by Brandon Lloyd, could rightly make a case for Mile High “retirement.”
In this case, Easy Ed McCaffrey gave an autograph and a No. 87 jersey to Eric Decker and gave him his blessing—a vaulted sign of respect from one of the most respected and beloved players of the “Orange and Blue.”
Eric Decker, ironically was the 87th pick in this year’s draft.
After deciding on the number, he tweeted: “Ed McCaffrey wore the number loud and proud and I feel the obligation to do the same!” Decker wrote, “Also being the 87th pick this year, it was meant to be!!”
The striking comparison between McCaffrey and Decker, being made all over the football world for his size, physicality, and willingness to make the tough catch, was obviously not lost on Eddie Mac, as his embracing of Decker into the Bronco fold clearly demonstrates.
After overcoming a series of injuries, Eric Decker took the field against the Lions, but it was Eric that did the roaring. Decker showed very Eddie-esque flawless route-running ability and a physical presence worthy of the number No. 87. Decker was responsible for multiple first downs, could make tough catches in traffic, and finished with five catches for 66 yards and a 13.2 average.
Ed...I mean Eric’s one “drop” was a crossing pattern that was a bit behind him, and he was summarily drilled in the back by the defender. Decker popped up off the turf and gave the DB a very familiar smirk, letting him know that he most definitely would be back in the defender's area sooner than later.
One of the CBS 4 Denver commentators even remarked that he was channeling the spirit of Ed McCaffrey.
Can that happen while Ed’s still alive?
All in all, fans don’t mind a legendary player’s number being worn if they bring honor to the number. It’s kind of like a remake of a classic movie or your favorite song; if it adds something or does it justice, we will watch or listen to it happily.
All early indications of the new no. 87 are that he just may end up doing the classic No. 87 proud.
Whether or not Eric Decker ever lives up the his predecessor remains to be seen, and time will tell if he has the makings of the next Easy Ed, or should I say Easy Eric.
When we see Eric Decker laying out a linebacker on a wicked block and then standing over him wagging his finger, we’ll be sure. When Eric Decker starts using Ed’s old trick of cutting away every league-allowed stitch of cloth from his jersey (to reduce weight) because he believed it made him just a fraction faster, we should do an intervention!