J.J. Watt is headed to the desert, and he’s received quite the compliment from the family of a Cardinals legend before he’s even arrived.
Watt has worn No. 99 for the entirety of his career previously spent exclusively in Houston. Now that he’s going to Glendale, he’ll need to determine his numerical identity, and his typical number is retired by the Cardinals, who sent the jersey to the rafters in honor of running back Marshall Goldberg. Goldberg’s daughter, Ellen Goldberg Tullos, told TMZ Sports she gives the Cardinals her permission to unretire her father’s number in order for Watt to wear it in 2021 and beyond.
“He has my blessings,” Tullos said of Watt, per TMZ Sports, “and I’m sure my father would be more than delighted for him to carry it on.”
Goldberg was a Pro Bowler and NFL champion who played both ways in football’s ironman era. Goldberg wore No. 99 in the final three seasons of his career, which took place during football’s early days, back when skilled position players wore numbers that would look strange in today’s game. Browns legend Otto Graham began his career wearing No. 60 before pivoting to 14 following the NFL’s implementation of jersey number rules based on position, and he’s far from the only one who made such a switch as the game modernized. Goldberg also wore Nos. 42 and 89 during his time with the Cardinals, who called Chicago their home during his career before moving to St. Louis in 1960, and finally, the Phoenix area in 1988.
Watt has worn No. 99 for most of his football-playing days dating back to his time at Wisconsin, where he walked on following a one-year stint at Central Michigan. Watt played tight end with the Chippewas and wore No. 82 for a season before leaving the Mid-American Conference to chase greater dreams closer to home in the Big Ten. He made the numerical switch with the Badgers, rose to prominence as an effective defender, and the rest is history.
We’ll see if the Cardinals take the word of Tullos and decide to update their own history. After all, Watt’s arrival very well could be the beginning of a new, memorable chapter for Arizona.
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