Tee Higgins to Change Bengals' Jersey Number to 5 from Chad Johnson's No. 85

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 16, 2021

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) makes a catch for a touchdown against Minnesota Vikings free safety Xavier Woods (23) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Cincinnati. The Bengals won 27-24. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
AP Photo/Aaron Doster

The No. 85 jersey has brought good fortune to multiple Cincinnati Bengals receivers. Tee Higgins will no longer be one of those players.

HIggins told reporters Thursday he intends to switch to the No. 5 jersey in part to honor Chad Johnson:

Mike Petraglia @Trags

Tee Higgins changing his number from 85 as a tribute to Chad Johnson who he believes will be honored in future. Says he doesn't want to be Ocho 2.0. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a> <a href="https://t.co/HlfGBXF4Rd">pic.twitter.com/HlfGBXF4Rd</a>

Johnson is Cincinnati's all-time leading receiver and the most famous Bengals player to wear No. 85. Before him also came four-time Pro Bowler Isaac Curtis and Tim McGee, who sit third and ninth, respectively, in franchise history in receiving yards.

Prior to this season, the NFL relaxed its uniform rules and allowed players to choose a much wider variety of numbers based on their position. That opened the door for Higgins to return to the number he used for his three years at Clemson.

The 22-year-old previously told Pro Football Focus' Ian Hartitz in May, "My heart is at 5," but that he didn't want to make the switch because some Bengals fans will have already bought his jersey. He then took a suggestion from Hartitz and said he'd go to No. 5 if he caught 10 touchdowns in his second year.

Higgins caught four passes for 58 yards and one score in Cincinnati's 27-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings, so he's slowly making his way toward the magic number. Apparently he didn't want to wait around, though.

Cincinnati Bengals @Bengals

YOU CAN'T STOP 85! <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeyB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JoeyB</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/teehiggins5?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@teehiggins5</a> for our first touchdown of the season.<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MINvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MINvsCIN</a> on FOX <a href="https://t.co/tPmzXSR8dO">pic.twitter.com/tPmzXSR8dO</a>

The Bengals have retired only one number (No. 54, Bob Johnson) in their history. Johnson may have to get in line behind other franchise cornerstones such as Anthony Munoz, Willie Anderson, Ken Riley, Boomer Esiason and Ken Anderson, all of whom are equally—if not more so—deserving of the honor.

Whether the No. 85 is retired or not, Higgins will have the chance to carve out a legacy where none exists in Cincinnati. Only five players have previously worn No. 5 for the Bengals: Ryan Finley, Jeff Hayes, AJ McCarron, Jordan Palmer and Neil Rackers.