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March 20, 2014

Should Cotchery wear No. 89 for Panthers?

Updated (3:45 p.m.): He won't.


Jerricho Cotchery has worn No. 89 for nine of his 10 NFL seasons.

That jersey number happens to be available now for the Panthers.

That doesn't mean Cotchery should take it, or the Panthers should make it available.

The Steve Smith wounds are still too raw for this city and fan base, a week-old cut that will take some time to scar over. When the Panthers released Smith last week, a crowd of a dozen or so angry protesters showed up at Bank of America Stadium to vent.

Thousands more took to Twitter, email and the letters to the editor section of this newspaper to let the Panthers know, "Heck no, Smith shouldn't go."

Smith will wear No. 89 in Baltimore. The guess here is that Cotchery will wear No. 82, his number at N.C. State and during his first season in Pittsburgh in 2011.

The Panthers have retired only one jersey -- the No. 51 worn by iconic linebacker Sam Mills Jr.

Whether Smith's jersey should be retired is a debate for another day.

But it shouldn't be worn now, as Panthers kicker Graham Gano would probably tell Cotchery.

When Gano signed with the Panthers during the 2012 season, he received permission from former Carolina kicker John Kasay to wear Kasay's old No. 4 jersey.

That lasted one practice, and then Gano switched to No. 9.

Talking about Gano's initial decision to wear No. 4, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said it would have been like him asking to wear Dick Butkus' No. 51 when Rivera was drafted by the Bears.

"I think it was smart," Rivera said of Gano's change of heart. "John was a terrific player for this team and this community. You don't want to create conversation and comparison."


--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 20, 2014 at 02:09 PM | Permalink


No. He should have to wear a different number. Panthers should hold #89 til Smith retires that way they can retire it.

Posted by: Brandon Worthy | Mar 20, 2014 2:14:07 PM

No it's smitty's and always will be.

Posted by: Dustin cook | Mar 20, 2014 2:21:50 PM

Only if he wants to be compared to the BEST Panther ever. Based on his career I'd say he pales in comparison.

Posted by: Fields | Mar 20, 2014 2:25:54 PM

It's Definitely too soon for someone to come in and claim #89. If someone does claim it they better back it up. By becoming the clear #1.

As for retiring the jersey, Peronally, I think #4 should be retired before #89. Kasay was not only a great player but always ta great rolemodel too. Smith had a good share of low points with all those high ones.

Posted by: Richard | Mar 20, 2014 2:26:54 PM

Release the Kraken!!!

Posted by: The Kraken | Mar 20, 2014 2:30:55 PM

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! Mr. Richardson should not allow it. It's one thing to be dumped the way Carolina did him but it's another to totally disrespect his legacy in Carolina. He needs to b brought back and sign a one day deal so he can retire a Panther. Oh, and I hope Cotchery has enough respect to not wear it either. You listening Jerricho? No disrespect, welcome to the squad by the way, but it would probably be in your best interest to not wear #89.

Posted by: Brian Morgan | Mar 20, 2014 2:32:17 PM

No way should anyone else ever use that number. His jersey and number should be retired. I'm hoping Cotchery can respect that and the Panthers organization will stop being foolish during the offseason and do something right for a change -by retiring that number. Oh, and re-signing Steve Smith eventually so he can retire a Panther. Still not over it. Never will be.

Posted by: Lauren | Mar 20, 2014 2:32:45 PM

That would just be silly!

Posted by: Scoobie | Mar 20, 2014 2:36:01 PM

He probably shouldn't, but only because he doesn't want to get off on the wrong foot with fans here.

Plus he probably doesn't want to be associated with a locker room cancer like Smith (the real reason Smith was released, IMO.)

Posted by: Danimal | Mar 20, 2014 2:44:08 PM

BTW, Jordan Gross' #69 should be retired before Smith's #89. Gross was a better player and also didn't end any of his teammates' careers by sucker-punching them in the face.

Posted by: Danimal | Mar 20, 2014 2:45:36 PM

I love the Panthers!

Posted by: Ric Flair | Mar 20, 2014 2:51:27 PM

#89 should be reserved for the bi-polar. I think that is the dirty little secret no one at the "observer" wants to talk about.

Posted by: deepenwide | Mar 20, 2014 2:57:33 PM

89 is Smitty's and should be retired. It is the least we can do since the Panthers have shown him no loyalty in releasing him after all of his years of service. Cotchery needs his own identity with Panthernation #keeppounding

Posted by: Tabitha | Mar 20, 2014 3:23:22 PM

Cotchery played in the ACC... back when it was not wrought with cheating and corruption! He should have learned something about respect from that. So the only way that Cotchery should wear #89 is if he wants a solid A** beating every time he walks down a public street in Charlotte.
Better use some common sense Jericho...

Posted by: boutlaw44 | Mar 20, 2014 3:27:29 PM

He should wear #89 if he wants. I go to all the games, I'm a PSL holder, I care if they win games. Steve Smith is washed up, he's not the Steve Smith from 2005, people, get over it If jerricho feels better wearing 89 let him do it.

Posted by: Frank | Mar 20, 2014 4:07:13 PM

moot point, he said he wasn't going to wear #89

Posted by: gut | Mar 20, 2014 4:09:48 PM

Crotch can wear whatever number he wants.

Posted by: tony clifton | Mar 20, 2014 4:12:43 PM

dumb question. 19. moving on.

now we have 1 reasonable wide receiver. any word on byron bell/charles godfrey resign/restructures?

Posted by: charlottean | Mar 20, 2014 4:37:44 PM

“I definitely wouldn’t even think about touching that number,” Cotchery said with a laugh.

Posted by: Greg | Mar 20, 2014 5:21:57 PM

I'll be upset if he tries to wear #12. That's Collins' number for life.

Posted by: Greg | Mar 20, 2014 5:22:58 PM

Heck yes JC should wear it....will add a little class to a perpetually tarnished number 89. The number 89 didn't like being toted around by a surly malcontent with anger management and maturity issues...

Posted by: NASTAR99 | Mar 20, 2014 6:06:53 PM

I guess Greg has been upset a few times, considering 4 people have worn #12 since Collins left and considering it was Tavarres King's number last year and still is!

Posted by: Shawn S. | Mar 20, 2014 8:06:28 PM

Our new wide receiver shows his class out of the gate. Thank you, Jerricho Cotchery, for making this poll a non-issue. Shame on Panthers management (again!) for not telling you and the media immediately that #89 is not available. Yep, that wound is most definitely still a little raw, but I'll be cheering for you come September.

Posted by: Renny | Mar 20, 2014 8:35:38 PM

Who cares?? This has nothing to do with football and everything to do with just stirring the emotions of fans and creating straw-man situations because its March and you don't have jack for real news to report on. Everyone beats you to the punch, Person. You never have anything of substance to report on. You are the laughing stock of beat reporters.

Posted by: tmack652 | Mar 21, 2014 10:18:28 AM

Jordan Gross's number always reminded me of high school.

Posted by: Lenny | Mar 22, 2014 8:47:45 AM

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