There's always some awkwardness when a team hasn't reissued the jersey number of a former star.
For the Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford had 12 good years as their quarterback. He probably didn't do enough to get his number retired permanently (though some Lions fans would argue otherwise), but it also would have seemed a bit wrong to reissue his No. 9 right after he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams last year.
Lions first-round pick Jameson Williams, a receiver from Alabama, cut the tension by asking Stafford himself.
Williams had been wearing No. 18 but wanted to make a switch before the preseason started. No. 9 was available, but it hadn't been reissued by the Lions since they traded Stafford last year.
According to ESPN's Eric Woodyard, Williams reached out to Stafford via text and asked if he could have No. 9. Stafford apparently said yes.
#Lions rookie Jameson Williams has officially switched his jersey to No. 9 — Matthew Stafford’s old Detroit number. He was looking for a single digit number and actually reached out to Stafford on his own via text as an act of courtesy, according to a source. Classy move. pic.twitter.com/wzkhJmQRQd
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) August 10, 2022
That's a great move for both players. The rookie understood the history of that number for the Lions franchise and its fanbase that still roots for Stafford. Stafford apparently didn't stand in the way of the switch.
It will be odd for a while to see anyone but Stafford wearing No. 9 for the Lions. Perhaps Williams can carve out his own legacy with that number.