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The history of jersey No. 1 and how Jalen Hurts can change the narrative

Jalen Hurts has a chance to make a name for himself as a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and, along with that, provide a new definition of what jersey No. 1 means for the fans. Look, we've all had our jersey moments. No. 17 will always be Harold Carmichael to me. No. 81 is, in a weird way, associated with Terrell Owens for that one memorable season. Brandon Graham will forever be No. 55. Duce Staley is No. 22, always will be. The No. 66 belongs to Bill Bergey.

The history of jersey No. 1, though, is spotty, and while that certainly didn't factor into Hurts' decision to change from the No. 2 jersey he wore as a rookie to No. 1 moving forward, it matters to me. It matters to a fan.

Hurts will be the first Eagles non-kicker to wear the number. It has been worn by only seven players in franchise history, so here is a brief history of the number. In some cases, it's not a very memorable history at all …

Happy Feller

Feller was, gulp, a fourth-round draft pick by the Eagles in 1971, the highest draft pick for a placekicker that year. It was a terrible decision in a lousy era of Eagles football. Feller lasted one year, making 6 of 20 field goals, and then spent the next two seasons in the NFL in New Orleans before ending his career. He made 10 of 10 PAT kicks before being replaced by Tom Dempsey. Somehow, I remember Happy Feller as a kid. The times were awfully tough in Philadelphia back then.

Nick Mike-Mayer

A Pro Bowl kicker as a rookie for Atlanta, Mike-Mayer wasn't much more than a middling performer by the time he reached Philadelphia in 1977. The Temple University product played in 15 games with the Eagles over two seasons and converted 11 of 20 field goals with a long of 41 yards. He did convert 28 of 29 PATs.

Tony Franklin

In 73 games from 1979-83, Tony Franklin was one of the best kickers the Eagles have had. He made 80 of 128 field goals, including a 59-yarder to beat Dallas in his rookie season. It is fair to say that Franklin, to this point, is the greatest Eagle to wear jersey No. 1.

Gary Anderson

One of the best placekickers in NFL history, Anderson played 22 seasons in the NFL. He was in Philadelphia from 1995-96 and was a reliable, short-range kicker. Anderson made 47 of 59 field goals with the Eagles and Anderson missed only one of 73 PAT kicks.

Mat McBriar

A former Dallas Cowboy, Mat McBriar punted in 13 games for the Eagles in 2012. His numbers were strong – 46.5 gross yards per punt – but McBriar hung around just that season before moving on to Pittsburgh.

Cody Parkey

Before injuries struck down his Eagles career, Cody Parkey was really good with the Eagles in the 19 games he played in Philadelphia from 2014-15. In that 2014 campaign, Parkey nailed all 54 PAT kicks and converted 32 of 36 field goals. His 150 points remain a single-season Eagles record and set an NFL rookie scoring record. A first alternate to the Pro Bowl, Parkey ended up kicking in the Pro Bowl that year. He suffered a groin injury the next September and was replaced by Caleb Sturgis. He kicks with the Cleveland Browns now.

Cameron Johnston

Cam Johnston served as the Eagles' punter from 2018-20 and has moved on to sign with Houston in free agency. Johnston holds the franchise marks for best career gross punting average (47.0) and career net average (41.8 yards).

Anyway, Hurts told me this last spring after he was given jersey No. 2 by the Eagles.

"It's great to be back in the deuce. Obviously, the history of doing great things at the University of Alabama and even in high school plays into it and I chose to wear it early in my NFL career because of my older brother," Hurts said. "To be back wearing that number in Philly and beginning this new jersey, it's going to be great.

"I can go out there and wear No. 99, or zero, or whatever numbers, but it comes down to me making plays, leading the team. I'm excited to be in the green, the midnight green, Eagle green. I'm excited to put my jersey on and represent the City of Philadelphia."

In Year 2, Hurts goes back to No. 1, which he wore in his final college season at Oklahoma and led the Sooners to the College Football Playoffs. In that season, Hurts passed for 3,851 yards, 32 touchdowns, and only 8 interceptions. He also ran for 1,298 yards and scored 20 touchdowns on the ground. He was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and won the Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year (regardless of sport) Award.

What's in a number? For Hurts, the history is pretty convincing. No. 1 fits him just fine.

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