Marcus Mariota to make history with Commanders as 1st NFL QB to wear No. 0

Aug 3, 2023; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Marcus Mariota looks on during practice at Novacare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is no stranger to making history. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Marcus Mariota will have made history before he even touches the field in his first game with the Washington Commanders. He’ll be the first NFL quarterback to ever wear the No. 0.

Mariota signed a one-year deal with the Commanders in free agency. The team announced his number selection, along with their other new additions on Wednesday.

NFL rule changes enacted recently made Mariota’s new number possible. Team owners agreed to amend the rules in March 2023 to allow the No. 0 for the first time in decades. The decision came after a previous adjustment so that defensive and offensive players could choose a single-digit number.

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley was the first player to claim the newly available zero in 2023, a move the Jacksonville Jaguars announced almost immediately after the rule changes were made public. More than 20 players opted to wear the number after him, from running backs to corners and beyond.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons was quick to claim that he would don the number zero at the time, referencing NBA star Gilbert Arenas, who was known as “Agent Zero” during his prime. Parsons ultimately stuck with No. 11.

Mariota, 30, isn’t a stranger to making history. He won the Heisman in 2014, becoming the first Oregon player and the first Hawaii native to win the award. Mariota has played nine seasons in the NFL, which is almost three times the average career length in the league.

For Mariota, switching numbers isn’t new either. He wore No. 8 at Oregon. He continued to wear the number after he was selected with the Tennessee Titans’ No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and when he landed with the Las Vegas Raiders as a backup. He switched to the No. 1 when he joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2022.

His addition to the Commanders came after he spent last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he returned to the No. 8. It was an ode to the eight Hawaiian Islands, he told NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Mariota was forced to switch things up in D.C., as wideout Jahan Dotson already wears No. 1 and running back Brian Robinson holds No. 8.

The new number could be accompanied by a new opportunity for Mariota. The Commanders have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft, which they will likely use on a new signal caller. The veteran quarterback could potentially compete with the rookie for playing time in 2024.

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