The New England Patriots have a habit of paying tribute to the team's All Time Greats whenever they leave the team.
When linebacker Tedy Bruschi retired prior to the 2009 season, the Patriots didn't assign his number again until veteran guard Brian Waters wore #54 in 2011.
When offensive tackle Matt Light retried before the 2012 season, the Patriots withheld his number from circulation. Defensive tackle Joe Vellano wore #72 in 2013.
When offensive guard Logan Mankins was traded in 2014, the Patriots didn't give his uniform to another player that season. Defensive tackle Ishmaa'ily wore #70 in 2015.
When defensive tackle Vince Wilfork signed with the Texans for 2015, the Patriots didn't give his number to another player. Rookie 6th round guard Ted Karras has #75 for the summer.
Linebacker Jerod Mayo retired this offseason, a person I believe is more responsible for the transfer of The Patriot Way from the early Dynasty of Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel to the current Dynasty of Devin McCourty and Nate Solder than anyone else. Mayo was the bridge between the two eras and should not be forgotten.
New England issued #51 to rookie 6th round linebacker Elandon Roberts after the draft, but quickly changed direction and switched Roberts to #52. Mayo noticed.
"I retired from the game as my ultimate sign of respect to the best organization, owner, coach, teammates and staff the Mayo family could have ever dreamed of," Mayo shared on his Instagram, along with a screenshot of a story discussing Roberts switching to #52 out of respect . "I gave my all and wanted to leave knowing I was able to always live my end of the bargain. I wanted and needed nothing more in return; the organization did enough. There is a thing in life called a 'silent paycheck'; and ways to show gratitude.
"To the classiest organization in all of sports, and maybe even in all of business on behalf of Chantel, our children and I, we say thank you for one of the most humbling and unexpected silent paychecks we have ever received."
Mayo recognized the Patriots have categorized him as one of the most important players of the past decade and he appreciated the sentiment. New England can't afford to retire numbers of all of the impactful players over the years, so withdrawing the number from circulation for a season is a great sign of respect.
Congratulations to Mayo. You deserve it.