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Jordan Matthews, the Patriots’ new No. 80

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Danny Amendola’s 80 has a new owner, and it’ll be quite an adjustment seeing somebody else wear it.

Buffalo Bills v Atlanta Falcons
There was no way Matthews was getting Rob Gronkowski’s No. 87, so Danny Amendola’s No. 80 will have to do.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Well, this certainly won’t be an easy adjustment.

For the first time in five Patriots seasons, the number 80 will be worn by someone who isn’t Danny Amendola. It sounds crazy, but it suddenly feels like Amendola was never even here. Maybe that’s just a sports fan thing. Or maybe it’s just a me thing, I’m not really sure.

The new guy wearing Amendola’s 80 will be Jordan Matthews, the receiver the Pats signed late in free agency, who will most likely be taking over Amendola’s role in the slot. Maybe it’s fitting that Matthews will be wearing Amendola’s number. It will just take some time to get used to seeing it, just like how it took some time to get used to seeing Michael Gambon as Professor Dumbledore in “Prisoner of Azkaban.” (Actually, that only took about five minutes.)

I’m honestly wondering how long it will take for my brain to permanently register that No. 80 is no longer Amendola. I’ll probably be calling Matthews “Danny” by accident for the first three or four games, then thinking Wow, Danny got a really good tan in the offseason before remembering that it’s not Danny. Like I said, it’ll take some time to get used to, but it’ll be a smooth transition.

The neat thing about Matthews is that he reached out to Amendola before he officially agreed to wear the number 80. Supposedly, the two of them have been friends for a few years, and Matthews wanted to make sure Amendola was OK with him wearing his number.

I guess that makes sense. After all, whenever he was healthy, Amendola was sensational during his five years in New England. Of all the receivers that passed through Foxboro in that span, he left the second biggest impact on the fans here, behind only Edelman. Nobody will ever forget the trick play against Baltimore in the 2014 playoffs – where Edelman took a backward pass from Tom Brady, then heaved downfield to Amendola for a game-tying touchdown (I wrote about this recently). That was the highlight of the Amendola years.

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
The number 80 played in three Super Bowls while with Amendola, winning two of them.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Danny was also fortunate enough to play on two championship teams, and he caught touchdown passes in both of the Super Bowls he won. Number 80 was already a big deal in New England, having previously been worn by longtime Patriot great Troy Brown, and Amendola represented it extremely well over the last five years.

Matthews is stepping into big shoes and he knows it.

“I know what (Amendola) did here,” Matthews said. “I don’t think you have to get a number retired and all that stuff to understand you need to have respect for what guys do in a place like this. I think they call him ‘Danny Playoff’ and I think he earned that nickname.”

Well said, Jordan. Hopefully the number 80 is in good hands.