44 back on the field for Syracuse in the near future

44 back on the field for Syracuse in the near future

Between two mannequins dressed in 44 jerseys and directly across from a free standing 44 statue, a Syracuse highlight video plays, starring a player whose face remains hidden.

The player arrives at the Carrier Dome in a hooded sweatshirt, enters the locker room and puts on the retired 44 jersey. The jersey appears 16 times in the next 190 seconds as adrenaline pumping music pulses. Should Syracuse un retire the No. 44? As he enters the Dome for a game, the mystery man is in the middle of the front row of SU players. He is surrounded by rising smoke. He is swaying, and the team falls into his rhythm. He is the No. 44, leading the Orange from the tunnel.

At one point in the video, Jim Brown taps a football twice and tosses it to the figure, as if welcoming the next member of SU’s most exclusive football fraternity.

You’re the next one, Brown’s expression seems to say.

Since 2005, when the number 44 was retired, the video could be viewed only as metaphoric.

Soon, Floyd Little says, the scene could play out in real life.

“I have talked about un retiring it,” Little said.cheap nfl jerseys

Little, a three time All American at Syracuse and one of the Holy Trinity of running backs to wear the jersey, said he’s had multiple talks with Syracuse athletic director Daryl

Gross about returning the jersey to the field. Since taking his position as special assistant to the athletics director two years ago, Little said he and Gross have talked to at least one recruit about the potential of wearing the number.

Little is adamant that the honor should go only to a veteran, a junior or senior who has proven himself with his play and shown coaches he’ll stay out of trouble. But he’s just as adamant that the number belongs on the field.

“I don’t agree that it belongs in the rafters,” Little said. “I want to be here when it’s back on the field. I like to be here when they recruit the kid. I like to say, ‘If you meet the expectations we have for you, you can be the guy that can bring back that tradition.’ ”

Still, Little is one of the few publicly advocating for a quick return of the number.

View full sizeFloyd Little in 2005, when the No.

“I think it’s retired,” Frazier said.

Little said he’s talking with Gross about formalizing the process, and that it could also include reaching out to the other players that have worn the jersey.

“Technically they are both right,” Giansante said via e mail. “The number has been retired. However, Daryl has appointed a committee to oversee that number and there is always a possibility it could be un retired for a very special circumstance should the committee deem it a worthy situation. . ‘Special circumstance’ is hard to define but given the special nature of the number, it would be for something or someone extraordinary given the honor it would be to wear 44.”

Syracuse officials did not make Gross available for comment.

Previously, though, Gross has been firm in his statements about retiring the number. The committee’s existence seems to indicate a softening in his stance.

“I mean, everyone was looking for the next ’44,’ the next Ernie Davis, the next Jim Brown, the next Michael Jordan, the next Babe Ruth and all those kind of people,” Gross said in 2005 when the jersey was retired. “Who would have thought that Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little could have gone back to back to back and done such a wonderful job? Everyone had their reasons and I am sure there are people who believe it should still be out on the table. With all due respect, I think this is the right time.”

In 2009, a group of fans began clamoring for the number to return to the field.

In an e mail statement, Gross said at the time that “Just like MLB has retired Jackie Robinson’s 42 for all of baseball, we have retired 44 out of respect for Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman trophy, as well as Jim Brown, the greatest football player ever, and Floyd Little, our only three time All American. Out of respect to these men and their accomplishments, 44 will remain retired. The 44 number will always be displayed prominently in the Dome so no one ever forgets the legacy.”

Since then, the Orange has incorporated 44 into the football program in a variety of ways, putting the number on their cleats, gloves and special jerseys.

It also adorns the mystery player shown on the video in the lobby of the Syracuse football building. When recruits visit, they usually pause to watch, and Brown seems to beckon toward them, urging them to become the next in SU’s long line.

Little said he knows the tradition will continue soon. He insists that his grandson, Blaze Kennedy Jones, will attend Syracuse and wear No. 44.

“I know that in nine years he’ll be wearing it,” Little said. “It’s going to be un retired at some point. For the two years I’ve been here, I’ve thought about it a lot. I want it out again. I want it out again before my grandson, I want someone to have some success with it, and then we put it back on the shelf.”

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Frank Parlato

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