According to an article posted on ESPN Boston this afternoon, recent acquisition Leon Washington will be wearing the number 33 for the Patriots this year. Washington has been wearing 33 since 2010, when he signed with the Seattle Seahawks; his number during his tenure with the Jets, 29, was given to Seattle's first round pick Earl Thomas, which explains the change. Washington has seen equal success under both numbers, as he currently holds several New York and Seattle franchise records, including most kickoff return touchdowns (Seahawks, Jets), most kickoff return touchdowns in a single season (Jets), and most All-Purpose Yards in a season (Jets). Hopefully he'll be able to continue that string of success playing for the Patriots, who have been lacking a legit kick return threat for some time now.
I initially had mixed feelings about Washington's selection, seeing that Kevin Faulk is my All-Time favorite Patriot and Washington's original number was available as well. Seeing that both 29 and 33 were currently up for grabs, I thought that Washington would want to return to his roots, so to speak - especially considering the amount of weight the number 33 carries here in New England. However, 33 was what he wanted, and since he has spoken to Kevin Faulk and received his blessing to wear the number, it's kind of hard for me to take issue with it. In a way, it's fitting; Washington will be returning kicks, coming in as the third down/change of pace back, and throwing blocks for Tommy B on passing downs. And since it isn't likely that the team will be retiring Faulk's number anytime soon (despite my aggressive letter writing campaign), it's good to see it go to a running back who will be embracing a similar role. Let's hope that he does the number proud.
And if Washington decides to go all out and secure himself a pair of massive black elbow pads, I certainly won't begrudge him.